Can You Get Compensation for Slip-and-Fall Injuries at a North Carolina Business?

A food service worker tripping on a curled up floor mat.

If you receive slip-and-fall injuries at a North Carolina business, you may be able to recover compensation from the business (or its insurance company). Whether you are eligible for a financial recovery depends on application of the state’s premises liability laws.

North Carolina Premises Liability Law

Some states impose strict (unconditional) liability on business owners in slip-and-fall accidents. North Carolina does not. Instead, the state’s personal injury rules of negligence apply to slip-and-fall cases.

In general, to establish a negligence claim for a slip and fall, the injured person must demonstrate that:

  • The business owner owed you a duty and failed to fulfill the duty;
  • Failure to fulfill the duty caused your injuries; and
  • You suffered measurable damages because of the injury.

A business owner has a legal duty to use reasonable care to keep invited business visitors safe from dangerous conditions on the property, which satisfies the first requirement for a negligence claim. To prove breach of that duty, an injured victim must show that:

  • There was a dangerous condition on the premises;
  • The business owner knew or should have known of the existence of the hazard;
  • The owner failed to take reasonable steps to correct or warn of the dangerous condition; and
  • The hazard caused your injuries.

A wide range of conditions can cause slip-and-fall accidents. Some of the most common include:

  • Slippery floors
  • Worn or defective carpeting or floor covering
  • Insufficient lighting
  • Uneven walking surfaces
  • Ice, snow, or standing water outside the building
  • Defective stairs or railings, escalators, and elevators

Slip-and-fall cases often are difficult to prove. That is due partially to all the elements that must be demonstrated. It is also due to the fact that there are several defenses that the business owner can assert in a slip-and-fall case. Foremost among those defenses is application of the North Carolina rule on contributory negligence.

Contributory Negligence in a North Carolina Slip-and-Fall Accident

North Carolina has a pure (or strict) contributory negligence rule that applies in most personal injury cases, including slip-and-fall accidents. Under the rule, injured persons receive no compensation if their own conduct contributed to the accident that caused the injuries.

If you make a slip-and-fall claim, the business owner will try to prove your contributory negligence to avoid liability. Your own conduct can prevent recovery if the owner can show that:

  • You were not paying attention to where you were going, because you were texting or talking on a mobile device, engaged in a conversation with another person, or otherwise distracted.
  • You ignored signs that warned of the hazard.
  • You went into a part of the premises not open to the public.
  • Your attire was unsafe or inappropriate, such as shoes with worn or slippery sole.

Issues relating to contributory negligence constitute one of the primary reasons why consulting with an experienced attorney is extremely important if you suffer a slip-and-fall injury.

Statute of Limitations in a Slip-and-Fall Case

Under North Carolina statute, most personal injury claims must be filed within three years of the date of the injury. This limit — known as a statute of limitations — applies to slip-and-fall claims. If you do not file a court action within that time, you cannot recover compensation. In other words, waiting too long to pursue your claim can prevent you from receiving compensation.

Even putting aside the statutory time limit, an injured victim should always pursue a slip-and-time claim as soon as possible after the accident occurs. Evidence and witnesses could disappear or be difficult to locate. Recollections of witness can become unreliable, even if they are available.

What To Do After a Slip-and-Fall Accident

If you suffer injuries in a slip-and-fall accident, the most important priority is getting medical attention. If possible immediately after the accident, ask a friend or family member to take photos of the scene of the accident and write down names and contact information of all witnesses. You should save all the clothing that you were wearing when the accident happened.

If you receive serious injuries, and the business owner may be at fault, you should talk with an experienced personal injury attorney before you pursue a claim. Representation by legal counsel gives you the best chance of recovering the full amount of compensation that you deserve. If you try to negotiate with the business owner’s insurance company on your own, you could inadvertently make statements that hurt your case.

An experienced personal injury attorney knows how to negotiate with pushy, stingy insurance adjusters. Your attorney also will know how to establish that the business owner’s negligence caused your injuries, how to calculate the full compensation you deserve, and how to avoid the defense of contributory negligence from defeating your claim. All of those elements are essential for you to recover.

Talk With Our North Carolina Premises Liability Attorneys

If you suffered significant injuries in a slip-and-fall accident on business property in northeastern North Carolina and the accident might be the business owner’s fault, our experienced personal injury attorneys at The Twiford Law Firm are here to help.

With offices in Elizabeth City and Moyock, we serve clients throughout northeastern North Carolina. Call us at 252-338-4151 (Elizabeth City) or 252-435-2811 (Moyock) or complete our online form to schedule an initial consultation.

Categories: Personal Injury