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Published on June 21, 2023

Understanding Comparative Negligence and How It Impacts Slip and Fall Cases

Slipping and falling can be one of the most egregious and embarrassing accidents to experience, but it is also one of the most common. Over a million people visit emergency rooms in the US annually due to slip-and-fall injuries. 

These accidents can occur in different locations, including public places, private properties, workplaces, and residential areas. Brooklyn, as one of the boroughs of New York City, has a significant population and a range of different premises where slip and fall accidents can occur. Factors contributing to slip and fall accidents can include uneven or damaged surfaces, wet or slippery floors, inadequate lighting, obstructions, or failure to maintain safe conditions. These accidents can result in fractures, sprains, head injuries, or other harm.

If you have been injured due to slipping on a commercial or residential property, you may be entitled to compensation for your damages. Consult slip and fall lawyers in Brooklyn to guide you through the legal process. However, determining who is at fault for an accident can be complex. This is where comparative negligence comes in.

What is Comparative Negligence?

Comparative negligence is the legal principle recognizing when multiple parties contribute to an accident or injury. Each party’s level of fault must determine proportional responsibilities. In many slip-and-fall cases, the property owner/occupier and the injured party hold some degree of responsibility for what happened.

The concept behind comparative negligence varies depending on state law with three different approaches:

  • Pure comparative fault: Under this system, each party involved bears responsibility according to their percentage of fault involved in an accident.
  • Modified comparative fault (50 percent bar rule): Also known as “the 50 percent rule,” this law limits recovery if the plaintiff’s involvement contributed equally or exceeded that of the defendant, thus, preventing plaintiffs from receiving compensation.
  • Modified comparative fault (51 percent bar rule): Under this system, defendants only require paying damages if they were more than 50% responsible for causing harm.

In some states, following contributory negligence means that if someone contributes towards their injury even by 1%, they cannot recover any damage as they’re barred from minority compensation regardless of their level of participation.

How Does Comparative Negligence Apply To Slip-And-Fall Accidents?

Comparative negligence principles come into play when determining who is at fault in a slip-and-fall case involving multiple parties, such as an occupier of the property and the injured party. The court will review different factors that contributed to the accident, such as whether a hazard existed on the property, whether the hazard was open and obvious, and if taking reasonable care of oneself could have prevented the fall.

Sometimes, an obvious hazard does not relieve a plaintiff from exercising reasonable care for their safety. If you need clarification about who is at fault in your case or how much compensation you may be eligible for in slip-and-fall accidents, contacting an experienced personal injury attorney is advisable.

Prevention Measures And Evidence To Back Up Your Claim

It’s important to note that not all slip-and-fall accidents are because of someone else’s fault. However, when seeking damages related to slip-and-fall injuries proving liability through well-preserved evidence goes a long way in backing up claims. This includes photographs or video evidence showing unsafe environments like wet floors without proper signage or broken stairs with missing railings.

As part of precautions against slips and falls, occupiers should keep an eye out for hazardous conditions on their property and take steps to prevent injuries by:

  • Quickly cleaning or repairing any hazards that may cause slipping or tripping
  • Covering exposed cords with appropriate material
  • Properly securing floor coverings
  • Maintaining outdoor walkways clear from snow and ice formation
  • Posting signs alerting visitors about potential risks

In Conclusion

Understanding comparative negligence is crucial for plaintiffs and defendants involved in slip-and-fall cases. This legal concept plays a significant role in determining the extent of each party’s responsibility for the accident, ultimately affecting the compensation awarded.

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