When you must file a claim for compensation following a slip and fall accident, you will need to prove the property owner’s or business owner’s negligence in causing your injuries. However, this is not all that you will need to do in order to obtain the full settlement that you deserve. Unless the negligent party just agrees to pay you what you are owed—which is unlikely—this party will raise defenses to your claim. Understanding the possible defenses that might be raised and obtaining evidence to refute them can strengthen your claim and lead to a quicker settlement of your case.
What Are Common Defenses That the Negligent Party Could Raise to Try to Deny or Reduce Your Claim?
If you suffered injuries due to a business or property owner’s negligence, you must prove that the business or property owner caused a hazardous condition that led to your injury, or that this party knew or should have reasonably known about the danger but failed to correct it or warn you of it. Here are a few of the defenses that the negligent party may raise:
- No notice. The owner could claim that he did not have notice of the dangerous condition that caused your fall. The notice can be actual where the owner, manager, or employee observed the dangerous condition. It can also be a constructive notice, which is when the owner would have known about it through regular inspections or because the problem was a reoccurring one. For example, it is common for parking lots to get icy in cold weather. If this had occurred for years in the past in the parking lot where you fell, the owner would have constructive notice of the problem and should have taken steps to eliminate this danger.
- Open and obvious. A negligent party may try to claim that a hazardous condition was open and obvious. Basically, the party is claiming that a reasonable person would have seen the hazard and taken steps to avoid the danger. This defense is often raised in cases where an injury was caused by debris in an aisle, icy parking lots, broken sidewalks, and areas under construction.
- Contributory negligence. Virginia is one of the few states that follow the contributory negligence doctrine. Under this rule, if you were at all at fault in causing your slip and fall accident, you would not be entitled to any compensation. This is obviously a very common defense raised by negligent businesses and property owners to try to avoid responsibility for their actions.
An experienced premises liability attorney will anticipate what defenses may be raised in your case based on the circumstances of your accident and will have successful strategies to defeat these defenses. To discuss your legal rights to compensation for your injuries, call our office today to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation.