If you’ve been injured because of a slip and fall that could have been prevented on someone else’s property, you probably have questions about whether or not you can recover compensation for your medical bills, pain and suffering, time off work, and other damages. This is where North Carolina’s premises liability and negligence laws will come into play, and you’ll want to know how to navigate the process of proving liability and recovering compensation.
How Does Premises Liability Law Apply to a Slip and Fall Injury?
Personal injury claims come in many forms. Premises liability law covers the area of personal injury that involves accidents on someone’s property, wherein the property owner had a legal obligation to maintain the property for the safety of others who might visit. When a slip and fall injury occurs because the property owner failed to do this and failed to warn of potential hazards, then premises liability law is the area of personal injury law that applies.
What Premises Liability Laws Are Applicable in North Carolina?
Because every state is different, you don’t want to make any assumptions about your personal injury claim based on news stories or anecdotes from incidents that occurred in other states. The laws in North Carolina are similar to most other states when it comes to establishing liability, though it differs from many states in terms of what damages you can recover based on comparative negligence laws. To begin with, establishing liability or negligence will involve proving that a duty of care was owed to you by the property owner, that this duty of care was violated by the property owner, that your injury was caused by this violation, and that your injuries caused the damages that you are hoping to recover compensation for.
If you can prove all of this, then you can establish negligence, though doing so will involve addressing why you were on the property or, more specifically, whether not you were allowed or invited onto the property. You may fit into one of three classifications as an invitee, a licensee, or a trespasser. If you are an invitee, then you had permission to be there and may have been invited onto the property. If you are a licensee, then you are on the property for your own reasons, such as to sell something. If you are a trespasser, then you were not permitted to be on the property. This determines whether or not the property owner owed you a duty of care and what standard of care was owed. Call Remington & Dixon PLLC to learn more about your status on the property and what this means for your case.
The next thing you’re going to have to worry about in a North Carolina premises liability claim is whether or not you contributed to the incident that caused your injury. If so, then you will be subject to the contributory negligence laws, which will bar you from recovering any compensation for your damages. This is not the same thing as comparative negligence that you find in many states, because you will not be able to recover any percentage of your damages if you are found to be partially at fault for your slip and fall injury in North Carolina.
What if Your Slip and Fall Injury Happened in a Store?
If your slip and fall injury happened in a store, then you are an invitee of the business, and a duty of care is owed to you. However, this does not mean that the case is going to be simple. You will still have to prove multiple factors to establish negligence. For instance, you don’t just have to prove that there was a hazard, but that the property owner (or employees) should have known about it (or did know about it), that they did nothing to address or warn you of the hazard, and that this hazard is what caused your slip and fall injuries.
To improve the strength of your case, you would be wise to take pictures of the hazard and the area around the hazard, gather the contact information of any witnesses before they have a chance to leave, and then seek out the manager to complete an incident report. Get the manager’s contact information, also, and give all of the information you can to your North Carolina personal injury attorney. You should seek medical treatment for your injuries, right away, and then request a free consultation from Remington & Dixon PLLC.
Keep in mind that if there was a hazard warning, such as a sign or someone standing near the area to prevent customers from accessing it (such as a grocery store aisle where there has been a spill, but which has not yet been cleaned), then you may not be able to prove negligence. Further, if you cannot prove that the store had adequate time to be aware of and address the incident, you may not be able to prove negligence. The store owners will likely fight you every step of the way, and they may produce their own evidence to address these issues. They may have videos or photos that indicate that there was a sign, or even a blocked off area, and that you were fairly warned of the hazard. They may also provide photos or videos that show that someone had just spilled something, a moment before you came along, and that they had not had the opportunity to learn of the hazard or correct it.
Further, if they can establish that you may have contributed to the incident, perhaps by being the one to spill something, being intoxicated, or having untied shoes, for example, then the contributory negligence laws of North Carolina may prevent you from recovering compensation.
Did You Experience Damages Because of Your Slip and Fall Injury?
Sometimes, when people slip and fall, they are not injured any further than the embarrassment associated with the incident. If this is the case, and you did not sustain any damages, then you cannot prove liability for damages. If you did sustain damages, then you can recover compensation for medical treatment, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more, depending on the details of your case. Contact a skilled personal injury lawyer in Charlotte at Remington & Dixon PLLC today to learn more.
Brandon double-majored in Political Science and Criminal Justice at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He earned his Juris Doctor from Barry University School of Law in Orlando, Florida. Throughout his career, Brandon has received numerous awards and recognition from his peers and agencies that rate attorneys. A few of these awards are from The National Trial Lawyers: Top 100 Trial Lawyer in 2014, The National Trial Lawyers: Top 40 Under 40 in 2014, Nation’s Top One Percent: National Association of Distinguished Counsel in 2015, Super Lawyers: Rising Stars in 2018 and 2019, and North Carolina Business Magazine: Legal Elite in 2019, among others.