Proving Negligence in a North Carolina Slip and Fall Lawsuit

Accidents can happen at any time and in any place, but when a slip and fall occurs due to someone else’s negligence, it can lead to serious injuries and financial burdens. In North Carolina, slip and fall cases fall under premises liability law, where property owners are held responsible for maintaining a safe environment for visitors. However, proving negligence in a slip-and-fall lawsuit is not always straightforward. This article will guide you through the requirements and crucial steps to establish negligence in North Carolina slip and fall cases.

Duty of Care:Proving Negligence in a North Carolina Slip and Fall Lawsuit

To prove negligence in a slip and fall lawsuit, the plaintiff must demonstrate that the property owner owed a duty of care to visitors on their premises. Property owners have a legal obligation to maintain a safe environment and promptly address potential hazards. The duty of care is not the same for every visitor; it varies depending on their classification:

  •  Invitees: These are individuals who enter the property with the owner’s express or implied invitation, such as customers in a store. Property owners owe invitees the highest duty of care, requiring them to address known hazards and conduct regular inspections.
  • Licensees: Licensees have the property owner’s permission to be on the premises, such as social guests. The property owner must warn licensees of any known dangers that are not easily observable.
  • Trespassers: While property owners generally owe trespassers a minimal duty of care, they must refrain from intentional harm.

Breach of Duty:

Once it is established that the property owner owed a duty of care, the next step is to prove a breach of that duty. This means demonstrating that the owner failed to meet the required standard of care, leading to hazardous conditions that caused the slip and fall accident. Examples of breach of duty may include:

  • Failure to fix or warn of known hazards: If the property owner was aware of a dangerous condition (e.g., a wet floor, uneven pavement, or debris) and did not take appropriate measures to address it or warn visitors, they may be held liable for negligence.
  • Inadequate maintenance: Property owners are responsible for ensuring that their premises are adequately maintained. Negligence may be established if it is evident that the owner failed to perform regular inspections or repairs.
  • Lack of safety protocols: If the property owner did not have proper safety protocols in place to prevent accidents, such as placing warning signs or barriers around hazards, it can strengthen the claim of negligence.


To succeed in a slip and fall lawsuit, it is essential to establish a direct link between the property owner’s breach of duty and the plaintiff’s injuries. Proving causation requires demonstrating that the hazardous condition directly caused the slip and fall incident and subsequent harm. It is crucial to collect evidence, such as photographs of the scene, surveillance footage, and witness testimonies, to support the claim.

Comparative Negligence:

North Carolina follows the doctrine of contributory negligence, which can affect the outcome of a slip-and-fall lawsuit. Under this doctrine, if the plaintiff is found even slightly at fault for the accident, they may be barred from recovering any compensation. For instance, if the court determines that the plaintiff was not paying attention or disregarded warning signs, their claim may be weakened or dismissed altogether.

Statute of Limitations:

It is vital to be aware of North Carolina’s statute of limitations for slip and fall cases. The statute of limitations is a time limit within which a plaintiff must file a lawsuit. In North Carolina, the statute of limitations for personal injury cases, including slip and fall accidents, is generally three years from the date of the incident. Failing to file within this timeframe may result in the loss of your right to seek compensation.

Gathering Evidence:

Building a strong case for negligence in a slip-and-fall lawsuit requires thorough documentation of evidence. As soon as possible after the accident, take the following steps to preserve crucial evidence:

  • Photograph the scene: Take pictures of the hazardous condition that caused the slip and fall. Capture the location, lighting conditions, any visible warning signs, and any contributing factors.
  • Gather witness statements: Obtain contact information from individuals who witnessed the accident. Their testimonies can provide crucial support for your claim.
  • Report the incident: Notify the property owner or manager about the accident and request that they make an incident report. Ensure you receive a copy of the report for your records.
  • Preserve your clothing and footwear: Do not wash or discard the clothing and footwear you were wearing during the accident, as they may serve as evidence.
  • Seek medical attention: Even if your injuries appear minor, it is essential to seek medical attention promptly. Your medical records will provide evidence of the injuries and their relation to the slip and fall incident.

Consult with an Experienced Attorney:

Navigating a slip-and-fall lawsuit in North Carolina can be complex, especially when dealing with legal procedures and negotiations with insurance companies. Therefore, seeking assistance from an experienced personal injury attorney is crucial to protect your rights and interests.

A skilled attorney will:

  • Evaluate your case: An attorney experienced in slip-and-fall cases will assess the details of your incident, determine the strength of your claim, and advise you on the potential outcomes.
  • Handle negotiations: Your attorney will represent you during negotiations with the property owner’s insurance company, working to secure fair compensation for your injuries and damages.
  • Prepare for trial: If a fair settlement cannot be reached, your attorney will be prepared to take your case to trial and present the evidence in court.
  • Protect your rights: An attorney will ensure that you meet all legal deadlines, comply with court requirements, and safeguard your interests throughout the legal process.

If you or a loved one has suffered injuries in a slip and fall accident and believe it was due to someone else’s negligence, do not hesitate to seek legal assistance. Proving negligence in a North Carolina slip and fall lawsuit can be complex, but with the help of experienced attorneys like Phillips & McCrea, PLLC, you can obtain the guidance and representation you need to protect your rights and pursue fair compensation.

Contact Phillips & McCrea, PLLC today for a free consultation and let our dedicated team of attorneys evaluate your case and explain your legal options. We are committed to fighting for the rights of injury victims and providing compassionate support throughout the legal process. Remember, you don’t have to face this challenging situation alone; we are here to help you seek justice and the compensation you deserve.