Though many of us get a good chuckle watching videos where someone is minding their own business and then slips and falls due to some condition at a property, the sober truth is that many individuals sustain serious and devastating injuries as a result of slip and fall injuries in Virginia. In fact, falls are the leading cause of traumatic brain injuries today, and a fall can have life-altering consequences. With that in mind, here are four things to know about slip and fall cases in Virginia.
First, a landowner or property owner in Virginia is generally required to maintain his or her premises in a reasonably safe condition for visitors. That typically means that a landowner must take reasonable measures to remove dangers that he knows about. Or, if the landowner does not take reasonable measures to remove the danger, he or she must provide a warning to others that the danger exists.
Second, a landowner’s duty to remove dangers or to provide a warning does not apply to dangers that are “open and obvious” to a visitor. That is because Virginia law requires visitors to use “ordinary care” to protect their own safety, meaning that visitors cannot blindly trust their surroundings without looking around to notice dangers that would be obvious to someone who is paying attention. But a visitor has a right to assume that premises are reasonably safe and the visitor is not required to be on the lookout for dangers. Whether a danger is open and obvious to the extent that it should prevent a plaintiff from recovering any money is typically a question that is reserved for a jury to make.
Third, most slip and fall cases that we handle occur on commercial properties like restaurants, grocery stores, hotels, resorts, or retail centers. The slips can be caused by a number of different dangers, such as spilled liquids, black ice, cracks in sidewalks, snow-covered holes, or a number of other conditions. Our Charlottesville slip and fall attorneys have handled a variety of these claims and each case must be evaluated on its own.
Fourth, many times a slip and fall claim will exist against more than just the property owner. In an injury case involving black ice, for instance, the property owner may have hired a snow or ice removal company and that company may have negligently performed its duties. Or, it may be the case that the property owner hired a property management company to be responsible for addressing all dangers that exist on the property. Because some of these issues can be determined only after suit is filed, it is important to contact an experienced slip and fall attorney soon after your injury occurs to allow time for a proper and thorough investigation by your attorney.
Slip and fall cases can be tough cases to win in Virginia. But they are important cases, because they help ensure that property owners and business owners take reasonable steps to make sure their visitors are kept safe and are protected from unnecessary dangers. Call an experienced slip and fall attorney today for more information.
Thanks to our friends and contributors at MartinWren, P.C., for their insight into slip and fall cases.