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Recovering Damages in a Slip and Fall Case When You’re Partly at Fault

We’ve all seen it, and probably many of us have done it: paying attention to our cell phone while we’re walking on a sidewalk, at the mall or in a store. If you’re unlucky, you might suffer a slip and fall injury because the surface you’re walking on is unsafe or the property owner failed to clear out a hard-to-see hazard. When this occurs, you might be too embarrassed to file a claim or intimidated by a liable party who tries to push all of the blame onto you. It’s important to understand that New York law allows plaintiffs to recover damages from a defendant if they bear some responsibility for their injury.

Though some states completely bar victims from collecting payment if they are even one percent responsible for the incident, New York uses a pure comparative negligence standard. This means that if you fell while checking your messages, taking a drink or walking around with untied shoelaces, you are entitled to damages if a property owner violated their duty of care to you and that violation contributed at all to your injury.

Compensation awards under New York’s pure comparative fault standard

In slip and fall trials where the defendant alleges that the victim’s own negligence led to their injury, it is usually up to the jury to decide how the fault should be allocated. When that determination is made, the plaintiff’s damage award is reduced by the percentage of blame assigned to them.

For example, someone shopping for groceries slips on a spill that was not cleared in a reasonable amount of time. The supermarket’s defense is that the plaintiff fell because they were checking their text messages, not as a result of the slippery floor. A jury finds that the victim has suffered $100,000 in damages and that the supermarket’s failure to address the spill is 80 percent of the reason why the fall occurred and 20 percent of the blame is assigned to the victim’s inattention. Given this decision, the plaintiff would receive an $80,000 damage award.

Whether the defendant in your case claims you are partly to blame for your slip and fall injury or not, the skillful New York litigators at Jakubowski, Robertson, Maffei, Goldsmith & Tartaglia, LLP will assert your right to a fair recovery. We have extensive experience securing substantial verdicts and settlements for clients throughout Nassau and Suffolk counties.