Slip and fall accidents are a common cause of serious injuries and related personal injury cases in Arizona. If you or a loved one was recently injured in a slip and fall accident, it is important to have at least a basic understanding of how this type of case works. This can allow you to determine if and when you should take legal action.
What Is the Legal Theory Behind Slip and Fall Cases?
Negligence is the grounds for the majority of personal injury cases. Negligence refers to someone’s failure to exercise ordinary or reasonable care. If a person is negligent and this results in injury or harm to someone else, the negligent party can be held legally responsible or liable for damages suffered.
Property owners in Arizona have a legal obligation to keep their premises free and clear of any hazards, including slip and fall accident risks. The negligent failure to do so could lead to a premises liability claim against the landowner. This is a type of civil lawsuit that can be brought against the owner or controller of a piece of property after a preventable visitor injury.
What Are the Elements of a Slip and Fall Case?
The burden of proof rests with the filing party (plaintiff) in personal injury law. This burden is a preponderance of the evidence, meaning the plaintiff must provide enough evidence to prove that the defendant is more likely than not responsible for his or her injury. Receiving financial compensation for a slip and fall accident in Arizona requires compelling proof of the following elements:
- The defendant owed you a duty of care as the owner or controller of the property.
- The defendant was negligent in the control, use or maintenance of the property.
- The defendant’s negligence caused or significantly contributed to your slip and fall accident.
- You suffered compensable damages as a result.
The defendant in a slip and fall accident case is typically the property owner. However, you may also be able to hold a land controller, leaser or landlord responsible for your injuries, depending on the circumstances. You may need to consult with a slip and fall accident attorney to determine the defendant(s) in your particular case.
Lawful vs. Unlawful Visitors
To establish that a duty of care was owed to you by a property owner in Arizona, you or your attorney must prove that you were classified as a lawful visitor at the time of the slip and fall accident. You cannot have been a trespasser who was illegally on the defendant’s property to qualify for financial compensation. You must show that you were an invitee or licensee – two classifications of visitors with the owner’s permission or legal authority to enter the premises.
What Is the Statute of Limitations on a Slip and Fall Claim?
An important law to know if you wish to file a slip and fall accident claim in Arizona is the statute of limitations. This is a strict time limit on your right to take legal action. The statute of limitations on most premises liability cases under Arizona Revised Statutes, Section 12-542, is two years from the date of the accident.
However, there are some exceptions to this rule. If you experienced a delayed discovery of your injury, you may have two years from the date of reasonable discovery to file a claim. If you are bringing a claim against a government agency for a slip and fall accident that occurred on public property, you must file within just 180 days of being injured.
To learn more about a slip and fall accident case in Arizona, contact Stone Rose Law to request a free case consultation with one of our knowledgeable attorneys.