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What do You Have to Prove in a Slip and Fall Case?

If you suffered an injury in a slip and fall accident on someone else’s property, you might be wondering if the property owner can be held liable for the damages you have suffered.

The only way to answer your question is to review Louisiana laws about proving liability in a slip and fall case.

Constructive Notice

Louisiana slip and fall claims are governed by the principle of constructive notice, which is explained in two sections of the Louisiana Civil Code, Article 2317.1 and Article 2322.

Under constructive notice, property owners are liable for damages caused by the property’s “ruin, vice or defect” only if the victim can show that the owner knew or should have known about the ruin, vice or defect through the exercise of reasonable care.

This means that property owners cannot be held liable simply by showing that someone suffered an injury because of a dangerous or unsafe condition on the property. You have to prove there was a reasonable expectation that the owner knew or should have known about the unsafe condition and failed to take steps to fix it.

Situations Where Property Owners Could be Liable

There are a variety of situations where it should not be too difficult to prove that a property owner failed to exercise reasonable care:

  • The owner or an employee created the dangerous situation or hazard – If the owner of a retail store spilled coffee on the floor, it is more than reasonable that he or she would know about it.
  • The dangerous situation occurred more than once – Some slip and fall injuries are caused by falling debris, like ceiling tiles. If no other ceiling tiles had fallen, it might be hard to prove that the owner should have been aware of the danger. However, if one or more ceiling tiles had fallen before the accident, it is reasonable to expect the property to be aware of it.
  • The hazard was in a high-traffic part of the property – There is a reasonable expectation that a property owner would know about a dangerous condition near the entrance or exit to the property, particularly because the owner may use the same entrance and exit.
  • Other people were injured by the hazard – It is more than reasonable for a property owner to know about visitors to his or her property who suffered injuries because of an obstacle or dangerous situation. It would be difficult for the owner to prove that he or she didn’t know or that there was not a reasonable expectation that he or she should know.
  • The property owner could have discovered the hazard in a routine walkthrough – If you can prove that owner did a walkthrough before the injury happened, he could be held liable if the danger is blatantly obvious and easy to see.

Comparative Fault in Slip and Fall Accidents

While you are busy attempting to prove that the property owner is liable for your injuries, the property owner and his or her attorneys will probably be looking for ways to prove that you bear some responsibility for what happened.

There are many ways a victim could be partially at fault for a slip and fall accident:

  • The victim was participating in an activity that would have caused him or her to see the hazardous condition. These activities could include using a cell phone or engaging in conversation.
  • The victim was on the grounds unlawfully.
  • The victim had no reason to be in a dangerous area.
  • The victim ignored posted warnings about the condition of the property or did not utilize safety measures to prevent an accident.

Louisiana Civil Code Article 2323, also known as the comparative fault law, mandates that your compensation award be reduced by your percentage of fault for the accident. This means that an award of $50,000 would be reduced to $37,500 if you were 25 percent at fault.

Louisiana’s comparative fault law is much friendlier to plaintiffs than other state’s comparative fault laws. In some states, you cannot recover any compensation if your percentage if fault is higher than the percentage of fault of the defendant. However, Louisiana allows you to recover compensation regardless of your percentage of fault.

The slip and fall attorneys at Simien & Simien have detailed knowledge of comparative fault and the other laws governing these kinds of lawsuit. If we take your case, we are committed to defending your rights and ensuring you receive the highest amount of compensation possible.

A Baton Rouge personal injury lawyer can review your claim in a free, no obligation legal consultation to determine if you have a valid claim.