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Proving negligence in a slip-and-fall lawsuit

New York residents file trip-and-fall lawsuits when they suffer injury, loss or damage because of a property owner’s negligence. In order to prevail, the victim must establish that the property owner either knew about, or should have been aware of, a dangerous situation and failed to do enough to prevent accidents. Proving that the property owner was, or should have been, aware of the danger and its likely consequences is called establishing foreseeability, and proving that his or her negligence directly led to injury, loss or damage is called establishing causation.

Slip-and-fall injuries

Slipping on a wet floor or patch of ice can cause debilitating injuries. According to data from the National Safety Council, about 800,000 Americans every year sustain slip-and-fall injuries serious enough to require hospitalization. However, proving that these accidents were caused by negligence can be difficult. Types of evidence that could convince a jury include security camera footage, reports of similar accidents in the past and warnings property owners received from other visitors about treacherous conditions.

Comparative negligence

New York has a comparative negligence law, which means accident victims who file premises liability lawsuits are awarded reduced damages if they, as well as the property owner, acted negligently. However, proving comparative negligence can be as difficult as proving negligence, and the evidence property owners rely on to make this argument could cut both ways. Video footage that reveals an accident victim was not watching where he or she was walking could also establish that the property owner knew about a dangerous condition and failed to do anything about it.

Inadequate maintenance is also negligence

Slippery surfaces are not responsible for all slip-and-fall accidents. Obstructed walkways, damaged or dilapidated floors, and burned-out light bulbs can also create dangerous situations, and property owners have a duty of care to address these issues as quickly as reasonably possible. If you sustain injuries in a fall that you think could have been prevented, an experienced personal injury attorney could study all the facts of the case to determine whether negligence played a role. If it appears that it did, a lawyer could seek damages to compensate you for your lost income, medical bills, and pain and suffering.