Spills and Slip and Fall Accidents: When Does an Innocent Spill Become a Legal Hazard?
If you slip and fall on someone’s property, they are not automatically negligent or liable for your injuries. This is true even if the fall resulted from a spill. However, there are situations in which this exact situation can lead to a valid premises liability case. Keep reading to find out what makes it a valid case and what makes one an accident. If you believe you have grounds for a case, contact Law Offices of Fernando D. Vargas at 909-982-0707 for a free legal consultation.
First, We Must Prove That There Was a Hazard That Caused Your Slip
The first step is to prove that there was a hazard that caused your slip. We must then prove that the slip caused the injuries you are basing your lawsuit on. For example, if there was a muddle of milk on the floor of the grocery store, or a spilled drink at a restaurant, a slip and fall accident could occur. It does not matter if the spill was made by a restaurant worker or a patron.
We Must Then Prove How Long the Spill Was There
Next, we need to prove how long the spill was left there. Why? Because business owners are not required by law to see all and to know the moment something is spilled. They are not able to control everything on their property. That said, they are required to notice and correct hazards within a reasonable amount of time. When they do not do so, that is when they become liable for injuries.
Methods for Proving How Long the Spill Was There
The best way to prove how long the spill was left unattended will depend on the specifics of the situation. Ideally there would be surveillance video that would show when the spill occurred and when the victim fell. Other evidence that can help includes eyewitness testimony about when the spill happened and when it was noticed by others.
The spill itself can help determine its age. For example, if there were footprints in the spill, if part of it had dried, or if it was something that had been frozen and then melted, these would be a reason to believe the spill had been left attended for a long period of time.
Finally, you can show that the owner or manager was generally negligent toward inspecting and maintaining their property. This could be done by finding maintenance logs that were incomplete or fabricated, or showing how the floors are very dirty. This can help convince a judge or jury that the spill could easily have been present for a long period of time without anyone taking action.
The Spill Needs to Have Been There for More Than 20 Minutes
Of course, the question then is: How long is “too long” for a spill to be left without being cleaned up? In most cases, 20 minutes is considered long enough that the property owner should have cleaned it up. However, that depends on how many people were working, how many people were near the spill, and other factors. To find out what your chances are for winning a case, contact Law Offices of Fernando D. Vargas at 909-982-0707 for a free legal consultation.