If you are hurt in a fall or other accident on business property, you might think that you can threaten the business with a lawsuit and net a windfall of thousands of dollars. However, it is not that simple. You have to prove that your accident was the business’s fault and that you suffered serious injuries and financial losses as a result of the accident.
Suppose you trip and fall down in a store, and nobody sees you fall. You get up, walk to the customer service counter, and report that you just fell and you think you broke your wrist. Unless there was a store camera trained on that spot or there was a witness to the accident, you have no proof that your accident was the business’s fault. You could have just tripped over your own feet.
Now suppose you walk the manager back to the spot where you fell. You point out a puddle of liquid on the floor and the corresponding stains on your pants. Now you have some evidence as to how the accident happened: you slipped on the puddle. But this is still not proof that the store is at fault.
You must show that the store was negligent or careless in some way. Specifically, you must show that the store was aware of the unsafe condition (the puddle) and did not correct it within a reasonable time. If a customer spilled their coffee on the floor just moments before you walked down that aisle, the store was not negligent or careless. On the other hand, if water had been dripping from the ceiling of the store for hours and the store had done nothing about it, that would be evidence of negligence on the part of the store.
Even if you have some evidence of negligence on the part of the store, the store may try to reduce their liability by claiming that you share responsibility for the accident. For example, perhaps the store had placed orange warning signs near the puddle but you were not paying attention. The store manager might also point out that you had not taken off your sunglasses when you came inside, that you were wearing high-heeled shoes with very slippery soles, that your shoelaces were untied, or that you were wearing clothing that dragged on the floor and could have contributed to your tripping.
As you can see, proving that the store was negligent is not necessarily easy.
Suppose you have proven that your accident was the result of an unsafe condition, that the store should have reasonably known about this issue, and that the store failed to remedy the problem in a timely manner. The next step is to prove the extent of your injuries.
If your fall only wounded your pride and maybe cost you some extra laundry, you do not have a valid claim for damages. The store is only liable if you suffered real financial loss. Generally, this means you need injuries severe enough to warrant immediate medical attention, such as broken bones, a concussion, or severe cuts.
The store will want to see proof of your actual medical expenses, lost wages, and any other damages you are claiming. For example, if you broke your wrist so badly that you have a permanent loss of function or chronic pain, you can expect extra compensation for that. However, if you have health insurance, you may be expected to reimburse your insurance provider out of any settlement you receive from the store. Thus, your net settlement will only cover your out-of-pocket expenses.
If you have been seriously injured in an accident at a business and can show that your accident was a direct result of negligence or carelessness on the part of the business, you may have a valid claim for damages. For a free consultation, talk to our DuPage County personal injury attorneys. Call Mevorah Law Offices LLC at 630-932-9100 for a free initial consultation.
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