Slip and Fall Injuries
Slip and fall claims in North Carolina are a type of tort claim based on injuries sustained by someone from slipping or tripping and then falling. A property owner may be liable to someone injured in a slip and fall only if they are negligent.
Negligence of a property owner can be established in one of two ways. First, if it can be demonstrated that the property owner themselves created a dangerous condition which caused the slip and fall. This is known as “active negligence”. For example, an owner or employee of restaurant mops the floor but fails to place wet floor signs out, they have created a dangerous condition which if someone slips and injured, could expose them to liability for the fall.
A second way in which a property owner could be liable for slip and fall injury is when the dangerous condition was created by someone else, but that the owner knew or should have known of the dangerous condition and failed to correct it. This is known “passive negligence”. Using the same wet floor example, if a customer spills a liquid on a floor and the property owner or his agents are notified of the dangerous condition, but failed to take reasonable steps to clean it up they could be liable. The key factor in these types of cases involves the length of time between the notification of the owner and the fall.
Slip and fall claims are some of the most challenging cases we handle. North Carolina is one of only a few states in the country that still follows the archaic doctrine of contributory negligence. In this context, contributory negligence would prevent an injured party from recovering anything if it could be demonstrated that they were any degree at fault in causing the fall. Because there is a general perception when someone falls that they must be at least partially at fault, this can be difficult to overcome.
Gathering evidence such as witness statements, incident reports, photographs and videotape is essential. Given the prevalence of security cameras, many of these types of injuries are caught on tape. Preserving that evidence requires notice to the property owner of the incident and request to maintain the footage. Our early involvement will help ensure a successful outcome in these cases. Contact us for a free consultation.