A slip and fall accident can cause serious injury, requiring hospitalization and often long-term medical care. Slip and fall victims also lose time from work during their recovery, which makes it difficult to support themselves and their families. When a slip and fall accident happens because of another party’s negligence in D.C., the victim shouldn’t have to be responsible for these and other losses. But how do you hold the negligent individual or business liable?
Let the dedicated personal injury attorneys of Koonz McKenney Johnson & DePaolis LLP go to work for you. Our firm represents slip and fall accident victims in the Washington, D.C. area. We can help you get the monetary compensation you deserve.
Causes Of Slip And Fall Accidents
Holding D.C. companies or individuals responsible after a slip and fall accident starts with understanding why it happened. If you’ve been injured, it will be up to you and your attorney to establish the facts surrounding the slip and fall. These are a few of the most common reasons these accidents happen:
- Wet, oily, or slick surface
- Icy surface
- Poor lighting
- No safety rails
- Uneven walkways
- Loose carpeting
- Unsafe conditions near construction sites
- Clutter and obstructions
- Open or uncovered holes
Slips and falls can happen on sidewalks, stairs, parking lots, floors, and other places. Property owners, including businesses and individuals, have a duty to keep their premises reasonably safe and free of known hazards. When they don’t, someone can get hurt.
Holding Businesses And Individuals Liable For Slips And Falls
A property owner, whether it’s a business or an individual (e.g. a homeowner), can be held liable for slip and fall accidents in certain cases. Lawsuits involving such accidents are known as premises liability claims. To hold the property owner responsible, it’s up to the victim and his or her attorney to establish the following facts:
Duty. The injured plaintiff must show that the property owner owed him or her a legal duty to maintain a safe premises. This duty can vary depending on what sort of relationship existed between the victim and the property owner. For example, a customer will be owed a different duty of care compared to a trespasser. Generally, if you are lawfully on the premises (e.g. as a customer or house guest), the owner owes you this duty.
Breach. This means showing that the owner failed to abide by the duty to provide a safe premises. Allowing any of the above conditions on the property could be an example of a breach. If the property owner knew that the parking lot was icy, for example, but failed to do anything about it, a slip and fall victim could have a claim. The same is true if the property owner should reasonably have known about the hazard but took no action to fix it. In other words, a business or individual cannot just turn a blind eye to something dangerous on their property.
Causation. Causation simply means the property owner’s negligence (e.g., failing to clean up a spill on the floor) caused injury to the victim. That means drawing a causal connection between what the business or individual did (or failed to do) and your injuries.
Damages. This element involves proving the nature and extent of expenses the victim suffered because of the accident. Common damages in slip and fall cases include:
- Medical bills, including hospitalization, physical therapy, and adaptive medical equipment like crutches
- Lost wages, due to time spent away from work to recover from the accident
- Lost earning capacity if the victim is not able to work at the same productivity level as before the accident
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
Could I Be Held Liable For My Own D.C. Slip And Fall Accident?
Although property owners are required to maintain reasonably safe premises, there are actually cases in which the victim could be held responsible and recover nothing from the accident. Washington, D.C. follows what is called the contributory negligence rule. This means that if the victim is even one percent to blame for the accident, he or she won’t recover damages.
As you might guess, this opens the door to a potential defense for the property owner. For instance, if you were running on an icy sidewalk while other pedestrians were carefully walking, and you slipped and fell, the owner might have a defense. If you bring a premises liability claim against a business or homeowner, there’s a good chance the defendant’s lawyer will try to find some way to blame you.
There are limitations to the use of contributory negligence as a defense. For example, it has to be proven that the victim’s negligent behavior actually contributed to the injuries. Having an experienced slip and fall accident attorney is essential to advocating for your rights and refuting any defenses that the responsible party might have.
Contact Our Washington, D.C. Slip And Fall Accident Attorney
After a slip and fall accident, you’re likely anxious about who will be responsible for your medical bills and lost wages. If your accident was the fault of someone else, you shouldn’t have to worry about how you’re going to pay your bills and take care of your family. Turn to Koonz McKenney Johnson & DePaolis LLP. Give us a call today to discuss your case.