When you are out shopping in a grocery store, eating in a restaurant or in some other public place, you have the right to expect a reasonably safe environment free from excessive risk of injury. That’s why it can be so unexpected when a puddle of liquid, an ineffective railing or some other unsafe condition causes you to sustain injuries by slipping and falling. If you choose to bring a lawsuit against the premises to recover for your injuries, what will your attorney have to show in court in order to prove that the property owner was negligent?
The elements of negligence
There are four separate elements that any attorney must prove in court in order to be successful in a negligence lawsuit. When you sue the property owner of the locale where you were injured, your attorney will have to prove:
- Duty – that the property owner owed a legal duty to their customers and other members of the general public to maintain a reasonably safe environment
- Breach – that the property owner breached this duty, which means that they failed to live up to their legal responsibility
- Damages – that you suffered actual, demonstrable injuries
- Causation – that the property owner’s breach of duty was the cause of your injuries
Your attorney will prove each of these elements in turn by presenting evidence in court.
How your attorney can prove these elements
Spilled liquid, unsafe stairways, inadequate lighting and icy walkways are just some examples of dangerous conditions that property owners have a duty to fix. If your attorney can prove that the premises owners knew or should have known about the dangerous conditions, and failed to exercise a reasonable effort to fix them – by mopping up the spill or salting the ice, for example – then the duty and breach elements will be satisfied.
Next, your attorney will likely direct you to receive a medical examination. This medical report will serve as proof of the existence of your injuries and their cause, thus satisfying the injury and causation elements. They may also request that a medical professional testify in court as to your injuries if it is necessary.
Suffering a personal injury due to the negligence of another can be devastating and can have lasting consequences for your life. If you are successful in a negligence lawsuit, you might be able to receive the compensation that you need to be able to get your life back on track.