When is an accident not your fault?
One of the questions we get most frequently as personal injury lawyers is “Does this injury qualify for legal action?” Especially when an accident occurs on someone else’s property — something we call a “premises injury”– the question of who is at fault will always be front and center.
Under Virginia law, property owners have a duty to keep their properties safe for visitors. They must maintain their premises according to local and state safety codes. If a dangerous condition arises, they have to fix it in a timely fashion, and they must keep visitors informed of any potential danger while it is being corrected.
The most time-honored example of this is an aisle spill at the grocery store. If someone drops a jar of spaghetti sauce and creates a dangerous condition for other shoppers, the store is expected to notice the spill in a reasonable amount of time, take steps to clean it up, and either divert traffic or put up warning signs while the cleaned floor is drying.
If a customer walks past a “wet floor” sign and slips, they won’t have much of a case against the store. But, if the hazard is not addressed in a timely manner and proper notice isn’t given, the store will probably be at fault for any injury that occurs.
We’ve had clients who have incurred lifelong back injuries and huge medical bills from simple aisle slips. One minute they are going through a normal day, and the next minute they are unable to do many of the activities they’ve always enjoyed. We’ve also had clients who have been paralyzed or lost family members because of injuries on properties that were not properly maintained.
In these large cases, the insurance companies will always maneuver to pay as little as possible. In our role as advocates for the injured, we use our legal expertise to get proper compensation for our clients, so they can pay their medical bills and have some monetary compensation for the loss to their quality of life. “Slip and fall” injuries are often caricatured by those outside of personal injury law, but we know from experience that these are always crucially important cases for the families who experience them.
If you have an injury that was caused by improper care on someone else’s property in Northern Virginia, the Shenandoah Valley, the Richmond area, or the Tri-Cities region, give us a call for a free consultation and we’ll let you know if you have a case.