Lawsuits stemming from slip and fall accidents on any walkway or surface are very common, and they are also typically strongly defended in North Carolina by respondent parties who argue that they have a strong legal defense against liability. Obviously, most property owners or business managers do not want to admit liability for accidents or injuries sustained by people using their property. Invariably, should liability be proven, remedial steps will need to be taken by the property owner to prevent the reoccurrence of any slip and fall injury, which could prove costly. All property owners have a reasonable duty of care assigned to the owner or manager, which is a very wide-ranging responsibility. It requires as a minimum for public access areas to be maintained in a condition where access by the public does to involve risk of injury, or for dangerous areas to be restricted and/or clearly marked as such. The key word often comes down to what is actually “reasonable” and material to the case.
Assumption of Personal Risk
The essence of liability in a duty-of-care situation seems simple enough on the surface. What would a reasonably prudent individual do under the described circumstances? One primary defense in this regard is that the plaintiff should have realized an obvious danger before putting themselves in a situation where an injury might be sustained. Individuals who are thrill-seeking or acting irrationally could be exhibiting bad judgment by entering the questioned section of the property. This is the first defense a slip-and-fall attorney will expect from the respondent.
Personal Negligence by the Claimant
This is probably the common defense to a slip and fall injury claim in North Carolina due to the state’s contributory negligence law. North Carolina uses the most restrictive comparative negligence law in the nation, termed “pure” contributory negligence, and it holds that even 1% of personal fault can result in the court dismissing the claim. The defendant must be completely at fault in order for the plaintiff to win the case in court.
Unlawful Occupation of Property
Another issue that applies in premises liability injury cases is legally occupying the property on the part of the plaintiff. A claimant must often prove they were authorized to actually be in a particular situation on that particular property at that time. When the location is privately owned and not intended for general public access, a strong case for dismissal can be put forward by the defense attorney, unless the injured party was deemed exempted public service personnel such as a postal worker. Any other unauthorized presence could be a defense. When the injury occurred at a business or a public property, it typically must be open for business at the time of injury occurrence. Trespassing charges could even be filed in some cases against a plaintiff as a form of deterring legal action.
Responsible Party is Not Aware of a Structural Problem
While slip and fall injuries commonly happen due to lax maintenance of a property or failure to properly mark a hazard for walkers in the area, some accidents are actually mishaps caused by conditions that the responsible party had not noticed. Some slip and fall accidents can occur from associated problems such as a faulty handrail or banister on a stairway that causes the victim to fall. An experienced slip-and-fall attorney can point out that this situation does not exempt the respondent party of their reasonable duty of care when property maintenance is their general responsibility.
Contact Our Law Firm
Anyone in North Carolina who files a slip and fall injury claim can expect a defense of some type from the respondent even when the injury occurs in a serious and obvious 911 accident. All insurance companies in North Carolina understand that the contributory negligence law is heavily in their favor, and it always takes aggressive experienced legal representation to win a substantial claim settlement or present the case in a trial. You may only have one opportunity for financial justice, and since every case is unique in some aspect, it’s always advisable to contact an experienced personal injury attorney to help with your case. Call our office today and let us put our experience and legal knowledge to work for you in your injury claim. We understand insurance company defense tactics, and we are prepared to fight to keep them honest. Call 1-800-ACCIDENT today.