Slip-and-fall cases involve the question of whether a business has legal responsibility, also referred to as premises liability, for injuries received by a patron. Premises liability cases are always difficult to win in Virginia, because of all the elements required to prove a case. One requirement is causation. But what does that mean? Virginia Beach personal injury lawyer Jeff Brooke, who recently secured a $750,000 settlement for a client in a slip-and-fall case, explains.
Proving a Slip-and-Fall Case in Virginia
Slip-and-fall cases, like all premises liability cases, are a type of negligence action. These cases are one of many different situations when people can be responsible if their negligence causing injuries. Other examples are auto accidents, product liability, and dog bites. Generally, to establish an action for negligence, there are four elements that must be proven:
- There is a legal duty owed to the victim by a person or business.
- The person or business did not fulfill that duty, referred to as breach of duty.
- The breach of duty caused the victim’s injuries.
- The victim’s injuries are measurable (quantifiable).
In a slip-and-fall case, a business owner owes a duty to patrons to keep them reasonably safe — satisfying the first requirement. For a breach of duty to occur, the business must fail to keep the premises in reasonably safe condition. In Virginia, that usually means the business had notice of the unsafe condition.
The third element of a slip-and-fall action — the one we are discussing here — is causation. To establish that element, the victim must demonstrate that the unsafe condition actually caused the injuries. That includes showing how the accident occurred. It may also include showing that the accident was not the victim’s own fault, or that the victim did not contribute in some way to the accident.
Demonstrating Causation in a Slip-and-Fall Case
There are several different ways to show causation. They include:
- Statements of witnesses
- Evidence about the condition that caused the injuries, which can include having an expert inspect and evaluate the condition
- Records of the business about the condition, including video surveillance and logs
Analyzing the circumstances surrounding a slip-and-fall accident is complicated. That is why it is very important after a slip-and-fall injury to gather as much information as possible, including the names of witnesses to the accident. Only an experienced attorney can determine whether the element of causation can be established. Your attorney will analyze the evidence from witnesses and other sources to reach that conclusion.
When To Talk With an Experienced Virginia Beach Personal Injury Lawyer
If you have a slip-and-fall accident, the most important first step is getting the medical attention you need. If you can — or if someone with you can — get the names and contact information of witnesses who saw your accident. It’s also important to keep all the clothing you wore and anything you were carrying when the accident happened. Making notes of the day, time, weather conditions, and other conditions can be critical too. However, do not share those notes with anyone, including the business or their insurance company, until you’ve had the opportunity to talk with an attorney.
If your injuries are minimal, it may not even be necessary to talk with a lawyer. But if you suffered serious injuries, been hospitalized, require ongoing medical treatment, lost work, or have a permanent disability because of the injury, you need to talk with a lawyer. Doing that before you talk with anyone else, including witnesses, is extremely important. Above all, do not discuss the situation with the business or their insurance company.
Trusted Virginia Beach personal injury attorney Jeff Brooke and The Jeff Brooke team know how to recover the compensation slip-and-fall victims deserve. We have successfully represented slip-and-fall victims and helped them and their families get financial reimbursement from the businesses where the injuries occurred. Contact us by phone at (757) 552-6055 or by using our online contact form. Do not hesitate to contact us if you’re hospitalized or confined at home — we will come meet with you at home or in the hospital.
Jeff Brooke is a personal injury attorney devoted to helping individuals who have suffered serious and catastrophic injuries or lost a loved one as a result of someone else’s negligent and careless actions. The Jeff Brooke Team serves all of southeastern Virginia. The firm helps clients in the Greater Tidewater and Greater Hampton Roads areas, including in Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Chesapeake, and Chesterfield. The Jeff Brooke Team also handles cases in northeastern North Carolina, including the Outer Banks.