When you are hurt through someone’s negligence, you always have the legal right to seek compensation for your medical bills, suffering, and loss of wages. Many people injured in a fall will be unable to work for an extended period, which makes seeking a settlement or court judgment absolutely critical to paying regular bills.
There’s a catch here, though. Even when a case is completely valid, an insurance company may try to deny paying out a claim, or the property owner might still fight the case in court to avoid taking responsibility. There are complications in slip and fall cases you should know about that can make it difficult to recover damages without the help of a skilled attorney.
The simple truth is that insurance companies, box stores, or private property owners never want to pay someone who has been injured. No matter the strength of your case, the at-fault party or their insurance representatives are likely going to try to shift the blame.
In many cases, they may claim the fall was your fault rather than caused through negligence on the part of the property owner. These blame-shifting defenses typically involving claiming that you were:
- Distracted by phone usage
- Wearing improper footwear for the conditions
- Causing your own hazard by having untied shoes
- Failing to pay attention to an obvious hazard
- Already made aware of the hazard due to cones or signage
Additionally, if you were hurt at a business, the property owner may claim you were trespassing by walking in a location where customers don’t typically go during the course of a normal day.
If there’s no avenue for the at-fault party to shift blame, they may instead attempt a procedural defense. Under Pennsylvania law, a property owner must be aware of the problem and given an opportunity to fix it before you can pursue compensation for a slip and fall. Due to this rule, the owner may argue they weren’t given enough time to resolve the issue that led to your injury.
A property owner may further claim that the hazard was caused by someone not under their direct supervision, such as maintenance crew members, construction workers, or other parties. In these cases, you may need to seek compensation from a different source. This tactic can be used to try to run out the two-year statute of limitations in bringing a slip and fall case against the correct party who bears responsibility for your injury.
How to Handle Common Slip and Fall Defenses
The good news is that these defenses are not insurmountable, and an experienced premises liability attorney will already have dealt with them in the past. All of these potential pitfalls can be overcome by taking the appropriate action in the aftermath of your injury. In particular, you need to gather evidence to show how long the hazard was actually present before your injury. It’s important to always:
- Document the condition resulting in your slip and fall
- Collect contact info of any eyewitnesses to the accident and property conditions
- Visit a doctor as soon as possible after the fall to establish a paper trail on your injury
- Notify the property owner or store manager of the incident
That final point is especially important if you were hurt at work, as many employers require notification of the accident be brought within 24 hours. If you don’t bring notification quickly, your employer may refuse to provide payment for missed work days.
No matter where you were hurt in a fall, the single most important action to take is to work with a lawyer. With a legal professional at your side, it's easier to prove negligence caused your injury by showing the property owner was aware of the problem and failed to make changes to address it in a timely manner.
An attorney can handle the hard work of negotiating for a settlement, as well as compiling evidence to prove your claim and filing paperwork properly within the statute of limitations if a court case is needed.
Did You Experience a Fall Caused by Negligence?
If you were hurt in a fall, you deserve compensation for your injuries. Set up a consultation with the Heslin Law Firm to get started. We are ready to work with you to overcome these common defenses and help you get on the road to recovery.