Success in a personal injury case that involves a slip and fall requires you to prove a number of things. You typically have to demonstrate that you incurred losses as a result of the injury from the slip and fall. You also have to prove some level of liability on the part of a property owner, agent, or manager and a lack of liability on your part.
Proving these things can be easier when you have witnesses to your slip and fall. However, the lack of witnesses doesn’t automatically make your slip-and-fall injury case impossible. Working with a personal injury lawyer can help you understand what you need to prove and what options you have if you slipped and fell when you were alone, such as in a public restroom.
Slips and Falls Are Common and Not All Result in a Case
According to the National Floor Safety Institute, slips and falls send around a million people to the emergency room annually. Common causes of these types of injuries include:
- Damaged or improperly installed floor materials
- Rugs or carpets that are in disrepair or not lying flat
- Moisture or ice on the walking surface
- Tripping hazards, such as cables or objects, in the walking area
- The carelessness of the person moving through the area
A slip-and-fall case requires that you can prove that someone else, typically the property owner or their employee, was somehow at fault for the accident. You also need to be able to prove that the accident did, in fact, happen as a result of their negligence and that you sustained injuries and damages serious enough to seek compensation for.
How Do You Prove Your Injuries?
Proving your injuries typically involves providing medical records and expert testimony about your condition. You need to show that prior to the fall, you did not have certain injuries or conditions and that after the fall, you did.
The challenge here is overall the same whether you fell in a restroom alone or in a crowded lobby full of witnesses. Your medical records and other arguments wouldn’t change substantially due to those different scenarios.
How Do You Prove Liability?
Another requirement for this type of case is demonstrating that someone else was liable for or negligent in causing the slip and fall.
For example, if a restaurant has a restroom with broken tile on the floor that can be a tripping hazard, the restaurant owner should take some type of action. The tile should be fixed, and until it can be fixed, safety cones or other obvious signage keeping people away from the broken tile should be placed. If you can demonstrate that you fell due to broken tile, that the restaurant owner should have known about it, and that they did nothing to prevent an accident, you might have a case.
You don’t necessarily need someone to witness the exact moment of the fall to prove liability. In the hypothetical case of the broken tile, for instance, you could find people who had visited the restaurant restroom before you or even on other days. If they can testify that the broken tile had been there a while, it creates evidence that the condition existed and had not been repaired. First responders or anyone who came into the restroom to help you after you fell might be able to testify that there weren’t safety cones or signs up to warn you away from the dangerous area.
A personal injury lawyer can help you understand all the methods for providing potential liability, even if you were alone at the time you fell. This can include seeking photo or video evidence of the area, talking to witnesses who can describe the area, or even subpoenaing information about work or maintenance orders.
How Do You Prove You Weren’t at Fault?
This may be the hardest part of a slip-and-fall case when you fell alone in a restroom. A common argument from the other side is that the person who fell caused the accident themselves. They might accuse you of knowingly falling and injuring yourself to seek compensation, or they might say that you were simply careless to an extreme degree.
For example, if there are safety cones and signage in a restroom and you ignore them, you might be partly at fault in your accident.
Florida has pure comparative negligence laws. That means you can collect damages even if you are partly at fault in a case as long as someone is also found partially at fault. For instance, say you do miss that there’s a safety sign and step on broken flooring and fall. However, the safety sign wasn’t big enough and the property owner could have done more to make the area safer. In this case, you might be found 30% at fault for the incident while the property owner is found 70% at fault—you would be able to collect 70% of the damages.
Proving that you’re not at fault for a slip and fall that no one else saw is challenging but not impossible. An experienced personal injury lawyer can work with you on your testimony and gather the facts of the case to make a strong argument that you didn’t cause your own injuries. Don’t face down insurance companies and others alone when you’re seeking compensation after a slip and fall. Contact Jiles Law, P.A. to learn how we can help you make your case.