Slips, trips, and falls cause many injuries each year. The most recent data published by the National Floor Safety Institute estimates that more than one million people nationwide require professional medical care for slip and fall accident injuries each year. Many slips and falls happen because of unreasonably dangerous conditions on a property, including at commercial businesses.
This raises an important question: Who is legally responsible for a slip and fall accident? In Alabama, a business or property owner can be held liable for a slip and fall—but you must prove that their negligence contributed to the accident. Here, our Birmingham premises liability attorney provides a guide to the key things you should know about slip and fall accident claims in Alabama.
What is Premises Liability?
As a starting point, it is important to understand that slip and fall accident claims fall under premises liability law in Alabama. Premises liability is an area of law that holds that a property owner or property occupier (business) can be held liable for injuries sustained on its land or at its establishment. Liability is not automatic: A premises liability claim—including a slip and fall accident claim—is a fault-based legal action. A claimant must prove that their injuries were sustained due to the defendant’s failure to take due care.
Who Can be Held Liable for a Slip and Fall in Alabama?
Under Alabama’s premises liability laws, you can bring a slip and fall accident claim against a negligent property occupier or property owner that contributed to your injuries. A wide range of different parties could potentially bear fault for a slip and fall accident, including:
- Retail stores;
- Office buildings;
- Other business establishments;
- Apartment complexes; and
- Government buildings.
What You Need to Prove to Establish Liability for a Slip and Fall Accident
In Alabama, a business or property owner could bear legal liability for a slip and fall accident. That being said, these claims are complicated. The commercial insurance companies that take the lead in defending most slip and fall accident cases are aggressive. To hold a business or property owner liable for a slip and fall accident that happened on its premises, you need to be prepared to present a strong legal case.
- Duty: You must prove that the business or property owner owed you a duty of care. In Alabama, businesses and property have a general duty to look out for the safety of customers and guests. However, trespassers are owed very limited duties.
- Breach: A breach of duty of care occurs when there is an unreasonably dangerous safety hazard on the property and the responsible party fails to take corrective action—despite having the capacity to do so. For example, a grocery store leaving a spill uncleaned even after being notified several times by customers could be liable for a slip and fall accident.
- Causation: Causation is required in a slip and fall accident injury claim. A plaintiff must be able to connect their fall accident to the actual breach of duty of care by the defendant. Without causation, there is no liability under Alabama law.
- Injuries: You cannot recover compensation for a slip and fall without proving your injuries. A slip and fall that does not result in harm is not legally actionable. Your compensation in an Alabama slip and fall accident claim should be proportional to the actual harm that was suffered.
Alabama is a Contributory Negligence State
Most states no longer have contributory negligence laws on the books. However, Alabama is an exception. The harsh contributory negligence standard remains in place in our state. It could have major implications for your slip and fall accident injury claim. The Legal Information Institute explains that contributory negligence is a legal doctrine that “bars plaintiffs from recovering for the negligence of others if they too were negligent in causing the harm.”
In other words, you could be denied compensation for a slip and fall accident in Alabama if you are deemed to have partially caused your injuries. Defendants and insurance companies often try to push partial fault onto injured victims to alleviate their liability. Your slip and fall accident should be thoroughly investigated by an experienced Birmingham, AL premises liability lawyer. Protect yourself from an unfair finding of fault.
Be Proactive: Limited Time to File a Slip and Fall Accident Claim
You have a limited amount of time to initiate a slip and fall accident injury claim in Alabama. A person who waits too long to take legal action is not only in a worse position to recover financial compensation, they may be denied an opportunity to have their case heard at all. There is a two-year statute of limitations for premises liability lawsuits in Alabama. Any Birmingham slip and fall injury claim should be initiated within two years of the date of the accident.
An Overview of Compensation You Can Recover in a Slip and Fall Accident Claim
If you or your loved one was seriously injured in a slip and fall in Alabama, you must be able to secure the full and proper financial support that you deserve under the law. Businesses, property owners, and insurance companies are not on your side. They want to pay out the minimum amount possible in a legal claim. Our Birmingham personal injury lawyers help slip and fall accident victims maximize their financial recovery. A settlement or verdict may include compensation for:
- Emergency medical treatment;
- Medical bills and other health care costs;
- Lost wages and diminished earning power;
- Pain and suffering; and
- Disfigurement or disability.
Contact Our Birmingham, AL Slip and Fall Accident Lawyer Today
At Lewis & Feldman, LLC, our Birmingham premises liability attorney has the skills, experience, and personal injury expertise to handle the full range of slip and fall accident claims. We hold negligent businesses and property owners accountable. Give us a phone call at 205-896-6410 or contact us online to set up a no-cost, no-obligation consultation. From our Birmingham office, we handle slip and fall accident claims in Jefferson County, Shelby County, and throughout north central Alabama.