You’re walking on someone else’s property. The floor is freshly mopped and slippery. You take a fall, breaking bones and causing serious back injuries.
In order to sue the property owner, you have to prove they were negligent in some form. Perhaps they should have warned you that the floor was wet and slippery with a sign.
But there is also a principle under the law called “contributory negligence.” As the plaintiff in the case, did your own behaviour contribute to the accident you suffered? Are you partly or even fully responsible for the mishap?
For example, was there a warning sign that you ignored? Were you wearing footwear with slippery soles? Did you have permission to be on the property at all? Were you wearing the glasses you need to see properly as you walk? And so on.
So let’s say you were successful in your lawsuit and awarded $100,000 in damages. But the court also decided that you were 15 per cent to blame for the accident. Then, with your contributory negligence, the damages award would be reduced to $85,000.
And of course, the more responsible you are deemed to be, the more reduced damages will become. It’s even possible that you won’t get anything at all.
The best way to avoid contributory negligence is not to engage in unsafe behaviour. If you are walking outside in the winter, wear proper footwear. If a sign on a set of stairs warns that they are not cleared in winter and unsafe, then don’t go down them on a frozen day. If you require glasses to drive, then wear glasses when you drive. . . .
Protect yourself with common sense and by following the rules as best you can.
But if you do fall and hurt yourself, the first thing you should do, after getting proper medical attention, is get the advice of a lawyer. The ins and outs of liability and negligence can be complex, and you need to understand them before you proceed further or agree to any settlement from an insurance company.
At Pace Law Firm, we are experts in personal injury law. Come in for a free consultation, where we will explain your legal options, so you can decide how to proceed.