What will happen if it is discovered that the plaintiff in a slip and fall case shares in the responsibility of the accident and injury? If you have a slip and fall injury occur on someone else’s property, can the property owner avoid liability by claiming that you are responsible for the accident? In some states, and under some circumstances, the answer is yes because there are comparative negligence rules in place. It is important to look at the laws surrounding slip and fall events and liability. Once this has been covered, comparative and contributory negligence must be examined.
The Basics On Slip And Fall Accidents
In order to win a slip and fall case, the plaintiff must be able to prove that the owner of the property acted in a negligent manner. This means that you must prove that the actions or inactions of the property owner, such as not making proper repairs, was the cause of the accident. This can be difficult to prove, and in many cases the defendant will try to establish that the person suing them was actually the one responsible for causing the slip and fall event. For more information on premises liability and inadequate security in Virginia, review our informational blog articles:
It is important to remember that just because you fell on someone’s property and were injured does not mean that the property owner had acted in a negligent manner. Additionally, just because something was not in working order or repaired on a property that caused the accident does not mean the owner was negligent. It must be shown that the necessary these damages were known to the owner and that they failed to make the repairs.
Laws Regarding Comparative Negligence And The Burden Of Proof
Comparative negligence is defined as determining if the injured party (plaintiff) shares in any of the responsibility for the event that caused the accident. It is called comparative because the jury must “compare” the amount of negligence on the plaintiff’s part compared to the amount of negligence on the defendant’s part.
This is a defense for the defendant. Because this is a defense, it is the responsibility of the defendant to prove that the plaintiff was comparatively negligent for the event. It is not the responsibility of the plaintiff to prove in court that they were not responsible for the accident. This means that the defendant must prove that the actions or inactions of the plaintiff were the reason that the accident occurred and the subsequent injury.
How Is Comparative Negligence Determined?
Comparative negligence is only determined once the judge, jury, or if in pre-trial the insurance company, establishes that the defendant was negligent and responsible for the slip and fall accident. If it is determined that the defendant has not acted in a negligent manner, comparative negligence is not established because the case has ended.
Once it has been established that the defendant was negligent, the facts of the case will be reviewed to determine the extent of that fault. If the jury determines that the plaintiff was partially at fault for the accident, they must determine the percentage of fault. For example, the jury can come back and state that based on the facts of the case, they believe that the defendant is 80 percent at fault and the plaintiff is at 20 percent fault. The jury may select any percentage that they feel is fair based on the facts of the case.
If the plaintiff is found to be at fault, the compensation that they are entitled to will be affected. How it is affected is based on state laws and the percentage that the jury determines they are at fault.
Different Methods Of Determining Compensation For Comparative Negligence
Every state has a different set of laws that regulate compensation methods for a comparative negligence case. Some states use the “pure comparative” method. This means that the compensation that a plaintiff is entitled to is reduced by the same percentage as the amount of their responsibility. For example, if the compensation that was granted was $100,000 and the plaintiff was found to be 20 percent at fault, then the compensation would be reduced by $20,000 (20 percent) to $80,000.
Most states use the “modified comparative” method. This means that the plaintiffs fault percentage cannot exceed that of the defendant to receive compensation. This means if the jury finds that the plaintiff was 51 percent or higher responsible for the accident and injury, they cannot receive any compensation. However, if the plaintiff and is found to be 50 percent or less responsible, the judge will grant the compensation in a modified manner, much like the pure comparative method.
Some states require that the plaintiff is not more than 49 percent responsible to qualify for compensation. These states will still adjust the amount of compensation that is received by the plaintiff be the percentage that they were found responsible for the accident. It is important that you are familiar with the laws of your state to determine which method is used for comparative negligence settlements.
There are a few states left that still abide by contributory negligence rules. These harsh laws state that if the plaintiff is responsible for the accident in any manner and any percentage, they cannot receive compensation for their injuries. The responsibility of the accident must be deemed 100 percent the fault of the defendant to qualify for compensation.
Professional Legal Assistance is Available
If you have been involved in a slip and fall accident in Virginia, it is essential that you work with a legal professional. The premises liability attorneys at The Brown Firm PLLC have decades of combined litigation experience. Our firm is proud to represent our clients best interests by using a well crafted legal strategy.
Free Consultations Are Available
We believe in educating our clients so that they are well informed before making any important decisions. Our firm offers free initial consultations by phone or at our office location. To set up your free consultation, call or send us a message online.