Most slip-and-fall lawsuits in Virginia and around the country are filed against businesses or commercial property owners, but homeowners can also face this kind of litigation. When damages are awarded in one of these cases, it is usually an insurance company and not the defendant that writes a check. Just about every business with a brick-and-mortar location carries general liability insurance, and almost all homeowner policies include at least some liability coverage.
Not every slip-and-fall injury leads to a lawsuit. In order to prevail in one of these lawsuits, the plaintiff must establish by a preponderance of the evidence that they suffered harm as a direct consequence of a dangerous condition that the property owner either knew about or should have known about. In most states, slip-and-fall plaintiffs are awarded reduced damages if they were not paying attention or otherwise acted negligently, but Virginia law does not follow the comparative negligence principle. Instead,, under its strict contributory negligence standard, plaintiffs who bear even the slightest degree of fault are barred from recovery.
People take out homeowners insurance to make sure that they will be compensated if their homes are damaged or destroyed in floods, fires or other disasters, but these policies also protect property owners who are sued. Many homeowners insurance policies only provide $100,000 in liability coverage, which may not be enough to cover the damages in a slip-and-fall case if the plaintiff was permanently disabled or suffered life-changing injuries.
Increasing liability coverage
Slip-and-fall lawsuits are something that homeowners as well as businesses should be concerned about. To avoid this kind of litigation, homeowners should address dangerous conditions like slippery driveways, uneven floorboards or loose stair rails as soon as they become aware of them. They should also consider increasing their homeowners insurance liability coverage if they have significant assets to protect or their homes feature attractive nuisances like swimming pools or playgrounds.