Q Can I sue the owner of a shopping mall if I trip and fall in the parking lot because of a hole in the pavement?
Well, you can “sue”, but the real question is whether you can sue and get paid for your injury. The law in Virginia makes it very hard for an injured person to collect damages in what are sometimes called “trip and fall,” “slip and fall” or “fall down” cases.
You must prove these facts:
- Who was responsible for the condition in which you fell? The owner of the mall or the company it hired to maintain the parking or the company it hired to clear the snow, etc.?
- Did that responsible have notice of the bad condition of the parking lot? This can be shown by examining the hole to see if it was fresh or had debris in it that would suggest it had been there some amount of time.
- Did the responsible party have enough notice to fix the hole?
- If not, did the responsible party warn walkers of the hole?
Even if you can show these facts, you still have an uphill battle. Why? Contributory negligence.
In Virginia, if the injured person is negligent (even if the person who injured her was negligent) and that negligence contributes in any way to her injury, she loses. This Virginia law is really difficult in trip and fall cases because we are all supposed to look where we’re going and to see what is there to be seen. It’s a lesson our parents taught us when we were very young, and the law really requires that you be responsible for yourself when you are walking along – even if the person’s carelessness injured you.
Contact an experienced Virginia personal injury lawyer to help you figure out if you have a case. Going through a lawsuit is a challenge, and you need an honest response from a lawyer about your chances of being able to recover for your injury before deciding what to do.