Arlington Slip and Fall Attorney

Given that slip and fall cases are highly fact-specific and often complex, it is important to retain a qualified personal injury attorney in Arlington to represent you throughout the legal process if you have suffered injuries as a result of a slip and fall accident. If you live in Northern Virginia, an Arlington, VA slip and fall lawyer with our firm can work to help you reach the most favorable outcome possible under the circumstances.

Slip and fall accidents are extremely common – so common, in fact, that falls are the number one cause of non-fatal medically treated injuries in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in every three adults age 65 and older falls each year. Many of these injuries could have been properly prevented with more attentive action on the part of the person responsible for maintaining the premises.

Duty of Care and Dangerous Conditions

When a defendant (including a property owner, lessee and/or property manager) or its agent (i.e., employee) negligently created the dangerous condition that causes the person to fall, the defendant may be held liable for the injuries sustained. Common examples include when a grocery store employee spills a slippery substance on the floor or negligently cleans or waxes the floor without posting warning signs.

To recover damages, however, requires proof. Not surprisingly, it can be a challenge to obtain physical proof and the witnesses necessary to prove a slip and fall claim — especially as more and more time passes. Fortunately, our Arlington, VA slip and fall attorneys have years of experience and can act swiftly to obtain the necessary facts and evidence to establish your claim.

At the basis of such claims is whether the property owner or manager has provided adequate duty of care, as defined by Virginia Code section 29.1-509.

Failure to Warn or Fix Hazardous Conditions

In cases where the dangerous condition was not created by the business owner or its employees, but rather by some unknown person (usually a customer), the plaintiff must show that the business owner had actual or constructive knowledge that a dangerous condition existed in order to recover damages. Ordinarily, this is shown by circumstantial evidence demonstrating that the dangerous condition existed for a long enough period of time that the business owner, using reasonable care, should have discovered and remedied it. The mere existence of a defective condition in a store or public place of business does not render the business owner liable for an injury caused by the defective condition unless the owner knew, or in the exercise of reasonable care ought to have known (“constructive knowledge”) of the defect. To illustrate this important principle: the mere fact that a person slips and falls on a banana peel strewn on the floor is not sufficient to establish liability. See Winn-Dixie Stores, Inc. v. Parker, 240 Va. 180, 396 S.E. 2d 649 (1990), in which no evidence of breach of duty was found after the plaintiff fell on a bean on the floor, since the defendant’s employee had mopped the area two minutes before.

On the other hand, if for instance, the banana peel is black and flattened out, a jury could reasonably conclude that the business owner was negligent, based on circumstantial evidence that the banana peel existed for a long enough period of time that the business owner or its employs should have discovered and remedied it (i.e., removed it).  Generally, Virginia law requires that the defendant is “on notice” that the defective or dangerous condition existed at the time of the plaintiff’s fall, and this notice requirement is often a difficult barrier to overcome.

Potential Barriers to Recovery in Slip and Fall Cases

Open and Obvious Condition

Yet another reason why it is so important to retain a qualified Arlington, VA slip and fall lawyer to represent you in your slip and fall case is this: property owners in Virginia have strong defenses, the most common being the open and obvious doctrine. Under this doctrine, if the dangerous condition was open and obvious to the invitee, the property owner is typically not liable. This is not to say, however, that you, as a business invitee, are required to be on the constant lookout for dangerous conditions. On the contrary, unless a dangerous condition is in fact open and obvious, then you have a right to assume the premises are in a safe condition.  The open and obvious doctrine is often understood as a subset of the contributory negligence doctrine that is also in play in all Virginia civil actions.  Contributory negligence means that even if the plaintiff is 1% at fault, they are statutorily barred from recovery.  An experienced slip and fall lawyer can help an injured person evaluate their case and inform them intelligently about whether these barriers to recovery are in play.

The Importance of a Slip and Fall Lawyer in Arlington, Virginia

Finally, the value of slip and fall cases is greatly dependent on the specific facts of each case. For this reason and the reasons discussed above, it is best to consult a qualified Arlington, Virginia slip and fall lawyer who can help you determine how to move forward.