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What is Comparative Negligence in Slip and Fall Cases?

July 09, 2019

What is Comparative Negligence in Slip and Fall Cases?

Each year, slip and falls lead to more than a million emergency room visits around the nation. When a slip and fall injury occurs, the victim may be able to recover damages to pay for medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, and other costs. However, the victim must first prove that the property owner, or potential defendant, was negligent.

Understanding Negligence

In the legal sense, negligence assumes that one party has not understood or documented safety standards either deliberately or due to neglect. This does not mean that all slip and fall incidents that occur on a property are the owners’ fault. For example, a landlord could own several townhomes, each with wooden decks on the back. One evening, a renter throws a party. During the party, guests spill drinks and food on the deck. The renter ultimately slips on the debris, throwing out his back. Though he has been hurt, his landlord is not liable because the landlord could not have known about the danger.

On the other hand, if the same landlord had not annually maintained the deck as was laid out in the renter’s agreement, and the renter slipped and fell because of a loose deck board or railing, the landlord could be held liable.

Comparative Negligence

Sometimes, both parties contribute to the underlying reason for the slip and fall. As such, insurance carriers, juries, and judges consult the rule of comparative negligence, which means both parties could have been at fault. Going back to the first scenario, what if the deck had not been properly washed and was covered in slippery green algae that the landlord was supposed to remove? Both parties could share the blame. The landlord should have known that when wet, the algae could be a hazard. Similarly, the renter should have realized the deck was becoming unsafe because it was saturated with debris and liquid.

The goal would be to then compare the negligence and come up with a percentage to determine who was more at-fault for the accident. In Pennsylvania and New Jersey, if a plaintiff is found to be more than 51 percent at-fault, they will not recover damages. However, if they are found to be less than 50 percent at-fault, the final financial award will usually represent the percentage of fault. For example, if the plaintiff was found to be 30 percent liable for the accident, and the award is $100,000, the plaintiff may only receive $70,000.

Cherry Hill Slip and Fall Lawyers at DiTomaso Law Assist Victims Injured in Slip and Fall Accidents

Slip and fall cases may be common, but each one involves unique aspects and careful analysis. If you are considering filing a slip and fall lawsuit, consult with a Cherry Hill slip and fall lawyer at DiTomaso Law today. Call us at 856-414-0010 or complete an online form to set up a free consultation. With offices in Cherry Hill, New Jersey and Philadelphia, we represent clients throughout southeastern Pennsylvania and South Jersey, including Camden County, Mt. Holly, and Cherry Hill.

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