Slip, trip and fall accidents are very common and often, thankfully, not serious. Children frequently trip or topple, receiving only scrapes or bruises — nothing that a kiss won’t fix. On the other hand, even outside the sports courts and fields, where such events are part of the game, adults, especially the elderly, are much more likely to suffer serious injury as the result of a slip, trip and fall accident.
Since serious falls often entail high medical expenses, loss of income, rehabilitation, and even permanent disability, many people wonder if they can sue for personal injury after such an occurrence. Though there are many instances in which someone else’s negligence, thoughtlessness, or even malice, may be the cause of your accident, there are also many times when your own physical ailment, foolish action, impairment, or inattention may be considered a contributory cause of your accident. Laws regarding shared blame in Virginia are particularly harsh when considered from the point of view of the plaintiff.
Pure Contributory Negligence
According to Virginia negligence laws, if you, the injured party, are found to have been even partially at fault for your trip and fall, you do not have a viable case of premises liability and are not entitled to any compensation. While most other states take a more enlightened view of shared responsibility (comparative liability) in such situations, Virginia takes the position that if were even partially to blame for your own injury you don’t have a case. What this means is that only if the other party is 100 percent at fault for your injury can you successfully sue for monetary damages.
Reasons for Slip, Trip and Fall Accidents
There are a great many reasons for slip, trip and fall accidents. Some of the more common ones which may constitute “premises liability,” the fault of the owner or manager of the property on which the accident occurred, include:
- Wet, icy, or slippery surfaces
- Broken stairs/poorly secured bannisters
- Torn or uneven carpeting
- Poorly affixed wall hangings (e.g. paintings, lamps)
- Debris/obstructed walkways
- Poorly lit walkways or hallways
- Uneven or warped flooring
- Poorly secured rugs
In any of these situations, if the responsibility for the accident falls squarely on the property owner’s shoulder — that is, if he or she failed to warn visitors about the hazardous condition, or failed to take prompt action to remedy or remove a hazard — the victim can, with the help of a sharp premises liability attorney, win substantial damages from the defendant.
Reasons Virginia Law May Keep You From Receiving Compensation
Even if you have received a serious injury, such as a fractured hip or a traumatic brain injury, and even if the injury has resulted in high medical expenses, prolonged time without income, or even permanent disability, the defense can argue that the slip, trip and fall accident was at least partially the injured party’s fault if:
- You were trespassing on a part of the property where visitors aren’t permitted
- You were wearing inappropriate or unsafe footwear for the circumstances
- You were distracted (e.g. talking on the phone, texting)
- You ignored warning signs or demarcations, like cones or construction tape
- You were inebriated or impaired by drugs
- Your were behaving recklessly
Because it is so unusually difficult to prove a premises liability case in Virginia, it is essential to find an experienced premises liability attorney with a track record of success to fight for your rights. Having a personal injury attorney with keen knowledge of Virginia negligence law will be invaluable to you. Working with astute legal representation gives you have the strongest chance of winning the damages you deserve.