We've discussed the various scenarios under which a property owner may be liable for damages in a typical slip and fall case. Basic rule of thumb is that a plaintiff must show that a property owner knew or should have known that their property was unsafe and that they neglected to take reasonable measures to make the property safe. But things are not always so cut and dry in the world of personal injury law.
Often times, a defendant may demonstrate that the plaintiff in their case bore some responsibility for their own injuries. After all, pedestrians have a responsibility to take reasonable care in a situation that is obviously and plainly dangerous. If that does not happen, “Comparative Negligence” may actually come into play.
Comparative negligence is a concept that presumes the defendant actually bore a level of responsibility for the safety hazard and thus, at least some damages for resulting injuries the plaintiff suffered. But comparative negligence also acknowledges that the plaintiff's own negligence mitigates the defendant's negligence to some degree. What must then be determined is to what degree both parties are responsible for damages.
Once the plaintiff's comparative negligence is determined, the plaintiff's verdict will likely be reduced by that amount.
There are two types of comparative negligence rules states observe. There is “Pure Comparative Negligence,” where the plaintiff's verdict is reduced by his or her exact comparative responsibility in the case. If the plaintiff is found 30% at fault, their verdict is reduced by 30%.
There is also “Modified Comparative Negligence,” as it is here in Illinois, where the plaintiff's level of responsibility must not exceed the defendant's comparative fault in order for the plaintiff to win any damages. So, should it be determined that the plaintiff bore greater than 50% of the responsibility for the injuries suffered, they will be awarded no damages at all. Should the plaintiff bear 50% (or less) of the responsibility for the accident, the final award for damages will be reduced by their own proportion of negligence.
Slip and fall accidents often involve an element of comparative negligence as the defense has the potential of mitigating (or eliminating) damages for the defendant.
Always remember that if you are a plaintiff in a slip and fall case and a defendant's insurer or attorney claims that your actions were contributory to your own injuries, it's vitally important that you consult a skilled personal injury attorney with experience in slip and fall cases. The attorneys of Panio Law Offices have a wealth of experience in slip and fall personal injury cases and we understand Illinois Comparative Negligence law.
We work hard to ensure our clients receive the largest awards for which they are eligible. And we work to avoid reduction of that award by mitigating any assignment of plaintiff responsibility.
If you have any questions about a slip and fall case or have been accused by a defendant or defendant's insurer of negligence or fault in your own injuries, call (708) 928-8680. We can help.