When you instigate a slip and fall injury lawsuit, the respondent may defend himself or herself by arguing that you "caused" the accident yourself (either fully or partially). If the defense is successful, then he or she may escape liability, or you may have to accept reduced damages. It's the court's duty to determine whether and how much your actions contributed to the accident. One of the ways the court will do this is to get answers to these three questions:
Were There Warning Signs Concerning The Dangerous Condition?
The court recognizes that a property owner may not get rid of all the dangerous conditions on his or her property; some things are just inevitable. For example, floors must be cleaned, which makes them slippery and dangerous. However, the owner has a duty to mitigate the danger via reasonable means such as putting up barriers and warning signs, so the unavoidable dangerous conditions do not cause injuries to other people. Therefore, you may not have a strong claim if the owner did his or her best to mitigate the danger, but you still got injured.
Did You Engage In Distracting Activities Just Before the Accident?
Different activities can distract you and prevent you from noticing dangerous conditions. If this was the case with your injury then the court will examine who caused the distraction and whether you would have been safe without them. For example, if there was a warning about the dangerous condition that harmed you, and your distraction prevented you from seeing it, you may be held liable for your injury.
Consider an example where you are walking in a store with a wet and slippery floor. Suppose you are texting and fail to notice the "Slippery Floor" sign. If you slip and fall, then the store owner may claim you caused your injury by getting distracted by your phone, and the court may agree.
Were You There Legitimately?
Your reason for visiting the site of your injury matters since it helps to determine whether you were there legitimately or not. This is because the owner of the property is only obligated to keep legitimate visitors safe while on his or her premises. Therefore, you may not have much of a claim if you were an illegal visitor to the site.
Consider an example where you are furious after being summarily dismissed from your job. You then decide to break into your boss's office to litter it with confetti as a way of getting back at him or her. Your claim may be denied if you fall and break your arm in the process since you were trespassing at the time of your injury.
There are a few exceptions where you may still have a legitimate claim even if you injure yourself while trespassing on a property. Talk to a personal injury attorney before deciding whether or not to sue.