Imagine you are walking through the grocery store when you get a text. The next thing you know, you're lying flat on your back. You don't remember what happened. All you know is that you have a splitting headache! What happened?
Apparently, you slipped on some yogurt in the dairy isle. Now you're dealing with a traumatic brain injury and what doctors are saying could be a permanent disability. That slippery yogurt never should have been there.
What all contributed to your fall?
Slip-and-fall accident defendants commonly use the defense of "comparative negligence" against personal injury plaintiffs. In the situation above, the defendant would likely argue that the text you received just before the accident means you weren't paying attention.
Comparative negligence applies when the plaintiff's negligence, recklessness, unlawful behavior or downright clumsiness contributed to his or her injuries. The basic premise is that the plaintiff is also to blame for the accident. If a defendant can successfully apply the defense of comparative negligence, it can lessen the amount of damages that the plaintiff can pursue.
Here are a few questions you can ask to determine if you are comparatively negligent:
- Did you have a viable reason to be on the property where you got hurt? Is it reasonable to assume that the owner of the property should have anticipated you or a similarly situated person being on the property?
- Would a reasonable visitor to the property - in a similar situation to you - have been able to avoid the dangerous condition that resulted in your injury? Or, could a reasonable person have navigated the situation in a way to avoid the accident and injury?
- Did the property owner put up a barrier, railing or warning sign to notify visitors of the dangerous condition?
- Did you do anything that helped cause the accident? For example, were you running in a place you knew was slippery? Where you intoxicated? Were you failing to pay attention? Were you engaging in "horseplay?"
Are you worried your personal injury claim will be discounted due to comparative negligence?
It's always possible that a defendant will try to lessen the amount they owe by asserting you were partially at fault. Learn more about slip and fall injury laws so that you can better evaluate your case.