Property owners are responsible for visitors who step foot on their properties. This includes homeowners, business owners, and cities or entities that own public areas such as streets and parks. If you have been injured in a slipping and falling accident (often referred to as a “slip and fall” accident), a West Virginia slip & fall lawyer can help you file an injury claim and potentially receive financial compensation that can go towards recovery costs, loss of wage costs, and more.
In the legal world, slip and fall injury claims fall under an area of law called premises liability law. Premises liability law governs accidents which occur on another person’s property. Premises law essentially states that all property owners are responsible for the safety and health of visitors when they are allowed on their properties (if they’re not trespassing). This includes properly maintaining a property, installing safety features if necessary, and ensuring no debris or spills cause falling accidents.
Slip and fall accident claims can be quite complicated in West Virginia. There are many questions that come into play when considering the causes of an accident and determining the exact percentages of liability. To succeed with a slip & fall claim, you will need the expertise of a law firm that specializes in complex injury cases. At DiPiero Simmons McGinley & Bastress, PLLC, our Charleston slip and fall accident lawyers have the experience and dedication your case requires.
Why Do Most Slip and Fall Accidents in West Virginia Occur?
A slip and fall injury is any injury which results after someone trips, slips, or stumbles, then ends up falling to the ground or into an object. The initial action which caused the trip, slip, or stumble must be tied directly to a hazard that exists on someone else’s property for a slip and fall claim to hold water in a West Virginia courtroom.
Here are some common causes for slip and fall accidents:
- Uneven pavement – If a property owner fails to correctly level the ground before laying down pavement and does not mark where the uneven area is, this may potentially cause a hazard to visitors. Broken or cracked pavement can also cause accidents due to negligence.
- Structural damage – If a property owner does not maintain their premises and an injury occurs after a stairwell collapses due to poor maintenance, for example, that owner can potentially be held responsible for those injuries.
- Wet floors – If a spill is not cleaned up within a reasonable amount of time and no signs are posted regarding the spill, it may pose a slipping hazard. This also counts for wet floors that are caused by leaky roofs or slippery concrete caused by faulty rain gutters, etc.
- Falling objects or debris – A property owner is responsible for cleaning up any debris from storms, etc. as well as ensuring that buildings, trees, rocks, and other objects will not fall or cause injury.
- Icy sidewalks – Icy walkways and sidewalks need to be properly salted and/or otherwise cleared of ice within a reasonable period after a storm or freeze.
- Inadequate lighting – All walkways must be properly lit. If an accident occurs due to a visitor being unable to see a stairway or sudden drop, a property owner could be held responsible for falls which occur.
- Inadequate safety features – If a walkway or stairwell is missing essential safety features like handrails or non-slip walking surfaces, a property owner can be held liable for injuries that could have been avoided had those features been in place.
Determining Liability in a Slip and Fall Accident
If your falling injuries could have been prevented with proper attention to the premises by the property owner, you may be entitled to collect damages (compensation) associated with the case. All property owners are given a reasonable amount of time to fix hazards, but during this time, they must post signs regarding the dangers or place warning tape which limits visitor access. If no signs are posted and the hazard was not fixed within a reasonable period, that property owner may be able to be held fully liable.
Property owners are also expected to regularly inspect their properties and know if any hazards exist. An owner may argue that they did not know that the hazard existed and could not fix it, but if they did not do regular maintenance on the property or regularly inspect the area, they may be held liable regardless if they knew the hazard existed or not.
It also should be noted that if it’s discovered that you may have been partially liable for the injury—if, for example, you were using your cell phone at the time of the accident—the owner may only be held partially liable. This fact may have a serious impact on an overall case.
As you can begin to see, determining liability in a slip and fall accident can be difficult. Thorough evidence and testimony from accident recreation experts is generally needed to successfully prove a claim. It’s also up to the court to decide what exactly the term “reasonable” means in any given case. No two slip and fall claims are the same in West Virginia.
The Aggressive Slip and Fall Attorney Representation You Need
If you have suffered from a slip and fall injury on another person’s property because of unsafe conditions or negligence, do not hesitate to contact our firm at once. DiPiero Simmons McGinley & Bastress, PLLC has more than 150 years of combined experience between the dedicated personal injury lawyers on our team.
We can help you pursue damages, including:
- Medical expenses
- Future recovery costs
- Lost wages
- Pain & suffering costs
Your premises liability claim will need to show that the property owner failed to ensure that their property was safe for human occupation and was free of unreasonably hazardous conditions. It will also need to be proven that your injuries were a direct result of the property owner’s negligence.
Our West Virginia slip & fall attorneys have the experience and knowledge needed to improve your chances of obtaining a positive case outcome. We have the experience and resources to ensure that your case is set up for success. Call today for the legal guidance you deserve.