When an accident victim sustains a personal injury on someone else’s property due to dangerous conditions, they should considering filing a slip and fall injury claim. This type of claim is considered a kind of premises liability tort action. If you slipped, tripped or fell when in public or at a private residence, and if you sustained serious injuries as a result, you may want to know if you can file a slip and fall injury claim and, if so, against whom or what. The answer depends on your reason for being on the property on which you sustained an injury and who was responsible for the hazardous condition which caused the incident.
Determine Your Role as a Guest
The first element you must prove as a plaintiff of a slip and fall injury suit is that the property owner owed you a duty of care. Per premises liability law, the owner of a property owes a duty of care to certain individuals who use his, her or its land. Typically, Idaho property owners owe the highest duty of care to invitees, a somewhat heightened duty to licensees and little to no duty to trespassers. The law considers an invitee to be a person whom the home or property owner invites or induces to enter the premises for lawful purposes, such as to fix the plumbing or install an appliance. Licensees are those who have permission to be on a property whether expressly or implied. Trespassers are those who do not have a lawful right to be on a property or who have the right to be on a property but for recreational purposes.
It is important to understand your role as a guest of a property, as the title you assume can give you more or fewer rights. Below is a brief outline of the duty an Idaho property owner owes to invitees, licensees, and trespassers:
- Invitee: A landowner owes an invitee the duty to keep the premises in a reasonably safe condition and/or to warn the invitee of any concealed or hidden dangers.
- Licensee: A property owner owes a licensee the duty to share with him or her the knowledge of dangerous conditions or activities on the land.
- Trespassers: Idaho law considers anyone who uses a piece of land for “recreational” use without permission a “trespasser.” Per Idaho law, property owners do not owe any duty of care to trespassers.
If you were an invitee or a licensee of the property on which you sustained your injuries, the property or business owner may be responsible for your injuries. However, it is not enough to prove that you were either an invitee or a licensee to recover damages. You must also prove liability.
Determine Whom You Can Hold Responsible
To recover compensation in a slip and fall injury claim, there must be a liable party. Liability is not always cut and dry, as there are typically two parties that may be responsible for the hazardous condition:
- The owner of the property or business
- The injured party
To hold the owner or occupier of the premises accountable for your injuries, you must prove that certain elements exist. Those elements are as follows:
- The owner or an employee of the business caused the spill, torn or worn spot, slippery or otherwise dangerous surface or item to be underfoot;
- The owner or an employee of the business knew of the hazardous condition but did nothing to correct it; or
- The dangerous condition was one that any other reasonable property or business owner would have discovered and either removed or repaired so as to prevent injury.
The third situation is the most common, but because it utilizes the phrase, “should have known,” it can be difficult to prove. However, in these instances, the court uses common sense and assesses whether the property or business owner took reasonable measures to keep the premises safe.
The property or occupier of the premises may also be liable if it owed you the duty to inform you of any concealed or hidden dangers and it failed to do so. However, the failure must have contributed to the accident.
You may be liable for your own injuries if the property owner did not owe you a heightened duty of care or any duty at all. Furthermore, if you contributed to your accident in any way—for instance, if you were running where you should have been walking, texting when you should have been paying attention, or walking in an area clearly marked as off limits—you may be all or partially to blame for your own injuries.
Idaho is a comparative negligence state, meaning that it reduces plaintiffs’ recovery by a percentage equal to the percentage of blame they assume in their own accidents. Unlike in states that abide by pure contributory fault laws, Idaho plaintiffs that assume 49 percent or less fault for the incident may recover damages. Idaho laws are much more generous than pure contributory fault laws, as pure contributory fault laws bar plaintiffs from recovering compensation if they assume even one percent of liability. In pure comparative negligence states, the opposite is true—plaintiffs may recover compensation even if they assume the majority of liability.
If you do assume some responsibility for your injuries, your damages will be reduced in accordance with the percentage of fault assigned to you. For instance, if the courts determine you were 30 percent responsible for the incident, it will reduce your award by 30 percent.
How a Slip and Fall Injury Attorney Can Help You
Though liability for your slip and fall injury may seem simple to you—the property owner is liable because the hazardous condition existed on his or her premises—determining responsibility is far from easy. The courts consider several factors when determining liability in premises liability cases, including but not limited to the duty owed to the injured party, the level of the property owner’s or occupier’s negligence, and the level of the injured party’s negligence.
If you were injured on another person’s property, the best thing you can do is retain the help of an Idaho slip and fall injury lawyer. Don’t wait. Call The Idaho Advocates at 208-995-2444 or speak with a slip and fall injury attorney online today to discuss your case more in-depth.
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