If you live in the Washington, D.C. area, you know that slip and fall accidents due to negligence seem to happen more often than not, yet being compensated for the damages is not as simple as it seems.
How Do I Prove Negligence in a Slip and Fall Accident?
If you live in the Washington, D.C. area, you know that slip and fall accidents due to negligence seem to happen more often than not, yet being compensated for the damages is not as simple as it seems. To recover damages, it is essential to prove negligence on the part of the home or commercial property owner. Let’s delve into what it means to prove slip and fall negligence in The District.
What Is Negligence?
Negligence is not acting with the care a prudent person would exhibit under similar circumstances to prevent harm to another. The basic premises of negligence in slip and fall cases is:
- Duty: The defendant (property owner) owes a duty to the plaintiff (injured party) to prevent harm under applicable circumstances.
- Breach of duty: The defendant breaks (breaches) that duty by not acting in a prudent manner.
- Causation: By not taking care to avoid harm to another, the property owner causes the plaintiff to be injured.
- Damages: The plaintiff suffers injuries due to the property owner’s carelessness.
Statute of Limitations for Slip and Fall Accidents in Washington, D.C.
There is a time limit within which you must file a slip and fall claim in The District. This means that you have a deadline that must be met if your claim is to be heard. In Washington, D.C., that deadline is three years from the time the slip and fall accident happened. Claims against a government entity have different time limits, and your attorney will be able to deliver all documents in a timely manner.
If the lawsuit is not filed in time, the defendant will petition the court to dismiss the case. There are rare circumstances where the clock may stop, allowing you to take more time to file a lawsuit. Your personal injury lawyer will be able to provide you with more information.
Proving Injury Due to Negligence in a Slip and Fall
A crucial element in your slip and fall claim is proving you were injured due to negligence. At our law firm, we take the following steps:
- Examine the site for fault: Our investigators examine the area where the accident occurred for negligence. For example, if a client slipped on a wet surface near produce, we would document the circumstances that led to the fall. These include the lack of mats near produce bins, wet surfaces that are not cleaned by staff and the lack of inspections by store personnel. Commercial stores are required to schedule routine inspections of the premises to alert them to dangerous circumstances.
- Obtain video footage: Most commercial stores have video cameras located throughout the premises. We look for cameras near the accident site and obtain pertinent video footage. This serves two ends. One, it shows the circumstances surrounding our client’s fall and two, it establishes the time the spill remained on the floor without mediation.
- Review accident reports: Our investigators review the accident report for mistakes or misleading information.
- Witness interviews: We also interview witnesses who were present at the time of the accident. It is important that the injured party collects contact information from bystanders who saw the accident when it happened.
- Review store policy: Our investigators also review established store policies to prevent accidents. As we said earlier, owners must set up routine inspections of the premises, usually occurring every 30 to 60 minutes.
Washington, D.C. has a rigid rule that says if the plaintiff contributes even one percentage point to the accident, they can not collect damages at all from the defendant. This is called contributory negligence. In such cases, the owner will attempt to say:
- The injured party was not paying attention to their surroundings. This can be proven using videos of the accident either in the plaintiff’s or defendant’s favor.
- Signs or cones were used to mark the area as dangerous, and the plaintiff ignored them.
- The plaintiff had ventured into an area that was for employees only and was clearly marked.
- The plaintiff should have recognized the danger and reported it.
Your Slip and Fall Attorney Will Dispel the Owner’s Arguments
Although many store owners will make an effort to shift the blame to the plaintiff, your attorney will use evidence to dispel their arguments. Likewise, your slip and fall lawyer will represent you with insurers if they have questions. Having an attorney makes a difference both in terms of the settlement amount and proving negligence in a slip and fall injury.
Call Roeser Law
If you are injured in a slip and fall, call the Roeser Law Firm for help. Our experienced legal team can be reached at (202) 660-4070 or online. Don’t try to fight for your rights on your own. Let us help you obtain the compensation you deserve.