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Who is liable for a slip and fall accident in Wisconsin?

The owner is responsible for maintaining his property in a safe conditionIf a slip and fall accident results in your injury and someone else—typically a property owner—has been negligent, then you may want to look into a lawsuit to cover the expenses and pain.

But You Must Prove Liability in Order to Recover Damages

It is necessary to prove liability in Wisconsin slip and fall cases. After all, sometimes accidents happen and no one is at fault. While a property owner must take precautions to make sure his premises are clean and safe, he cannot be responsible for people who simply do not watch where they are going.

In order to recover damages, you must be able to prove that:

  • The property owner owed you a duty of care. If you were legally on the property then the owner likely owed you a duty of care.
  • The property owner breached that duty of care by failing to act like a reasonable property owner would in similar circumstances. For example, the property owner may have known about the hazard that caused you to fall and failed to take action, or the property owner should have known about the hazard and taken action but didn’t.
  • The breach of the duty of care caused you to fall. In other words, you would not have fallen but for the property owner’s breach of the duty of care.
  • You are legally entitled to damages. Wisconsin law allows you to recover damages.

Often, a slip and fall case hinges on whether a property owner breached the duty of care.

A Closer Look at What the Property Owner “Should Have” Known

A property owner should have known about the dangerous condition that led to your fall when a reasonable person who owned or cared for the property would have known about it. Accordingly, in order to recover damages pursuant to this theory of liability, you will need to prove what a hypothetical reasonable property owner or caretaker would have known about.

While every case is unique, you may consider the following factors when considering whether the property owner was reasonable:

  • Had anyone been hurt by the dangerous condition on the property before?
  • Had anyone reported the dangerous condition before?
  • Did the property owner have procedures for taking care of the property?
  • Where those procedures followed?
  • Were there any warnings (such as cones or signs) in the spot where you fell before your fall?

These factors and others can help you present a convincing argument that the property owner should be liable for the injuries that you sustained in the fall.

Who Decides Liability?

Regardless of your evidence or of how strongly you believe that the property owner should have known about the dangerous condition, you cannot be the one to decide what the property owner should have known. However, it is not up to the property owner to decide that either. Instead, you will either need to convince the insurance company that this standard can be proven in court and thus should be considered in settlement negotiations, or you will need to convince the judge or jury that this element is met. Ultimately, if there is no consensus on what the property owner should have known, it will be the jury in the case of a jury trial or the judge in the case of a bench trial who will make the determination.

Liability Is a Legal Concept and You Need Legal Help

As you can tell from the information provided above, it is not always easy to prove when someone else is liable for fall injuries. Accordingly, we encourage you to contact an experienced slip and fall lawyer today. Your attorney can examine all the evidence and can make the convincing legal arguments needed to get the recovery you deserve, either from the insurance company or through a slip and fall lawsuit.

 

 

Jason F. Abraham
Managing Partner, Hupy and Abraham