Slip and fall injuries are depressingly common. While you might get out of a slip with nothing more than damaged dignity, it’s entirely possible that such an accident can change the course of your life. Unfortunately, these accidents don’t just happen on the property of strangers – they are very likely to happen in the home of someone you know. Determining what to do next can be difficult, especially if you are looking to get compensation. Understanding if you can sue that person to get compensation for your injuries requires thinking about several different factors.
The Short Answer
The short and somewhat facetious answer to this question is there’s nothing stopping you from bringing a lawsuit against the home owner in this situation. In fact, there is very little stopping you from making an attempt to bring a lawsuit in most situations. What you should be concerned with, though, is whether your suit can actually result in compensation. That’s where this gets tricky, as you’ll have to look at what courts require for a suit to be successful.
Generally speaking, the following criteria would have to be met for you to successfully sue your host. The incident would have to:
1) Take place on the host’s property
2) Occur due to the fault of the host
3) Result in an injury for which compensation is possible
Who Owns the Home?
This is one question that might have a huge impact on your potential suit. If you have been injured in a rental home, for example, you might need to look at what caused your injury. If the injury was caused by something that your host was supposed to take care of, you’re probably going to have to look towards that person (and their renter’s insurance) for compensation. If the injury was due to something for which the the building’s owner was responsible – or if it took place in a common area – you may need to bring your suit against the building’s owner. Bringing the suit against the wrong party may not just damage your relationship – it might also lead to your case being thrown out.
Who is at Fault?
The question of fault is actually quite interesting when it comes to a slip and fall on a host’s property. Generally speaking, one is looking at a question of a duty of care here – in short, whether the host kept his or her property in such a condition that visitors would be safe. If your host has let a refrigerator leak all over the kitchen floor and you fell, a duty of care has been violated. If you decided to roller blade through the home blindfolded, there’s likely not much of a violation there. What you’re looking for in simple terms is fault – was it the homeowner’s fault, or should he or she have been able to prevent the accident? Unless the answer is yes, your suit won’t be successful.
What was the Injury?
Finally, you’ll have to stop and look at the injury itself. What exactly occurred? Did you fall and get a bruise? If so, there’s probably not much chance of compensation – you were hurt, but there was no appreciable financial harm. If you fell and broke a bone, what happened next? Did you get medical treatment? Did you have to miss work? All of this is important, because those who can’t show a financial harm really don’t have anything for which they can sue. You can’t sue just because you were embarrassed or because you felt pain. The court simply wants to see concrete damages.
If you have fallen in the home to which you were invited, you may be able to bring a successful suit. The injury must have occurred on the host’s property, in a manner that shows the host’s fault or negligence, and must have resulted in some kind of harm that can be compensated. If any of those elements are missing, you don’t have a case. Remember, a good suit isn’t necessarily just one that you feel has merit – it’s a suit that the court will take seriously. Real damages are always necessary for an effective suit.