Connecticut is a modified comparative fault state, which means that a plaintiff can still pursue a claim if they were partially at fault for their accident. However, they must only be 50% or less at fault, and their damages will be reduced by their percentage of fault. In slip and fall claims, especially those involving snow and ice, your clothing and footwear may be investigated and questioned by the opposing party if they believe they were a factor in your accident.
Property owners have a responsibility to ensure others on their property are safe from suffering injuries from slippery or unsafe surfaces. Whether they put up warning signs, specify what shoes employees and guests should wear, or create a temporary solution, they should identify and warn visitors of any unsafe walkways, stairs, or areas on their property. However, you should also take precautions and wear safe clothing and footwear when you’re out and about. While you likely do not pick out shoes or clothing in the morning with consideration to whether they will contribute to an accident or your fault, what you wear does matter as it relates to personal injury cases.
Footwear & Comparative Negligence
Footwear can be an important factor in slip and fall cases if the shoes are:
- Defectively designed. A slip and fall claim would not be applicable in cases where the design is what caused the slip and fall; the case would actually be a product liability claim. Toning shoes, which were popular around 2010, were at the center of many lawsuits as they not only failed to help shape/tone people’s bodies as promised but also caused many people who wore the shoes to fall, trip, or experience ankle injuries.
- Have residue on the soles. If your shoes had wax or residue on the bottom that reduced your traction, your shoes contributed to the fall, especially if the substance is from another location. If the shoe soles are also just slippery, that can also mean you will be assigned fault.
- Are old or worn out. If your shoes are old, the sole may have worn away, which can affect traction. If trip, slip, and fall on a slippery surface, the lack of traction can increase your likelihood of having an accident and contribute to the severity of your injuries.
Shoes should be in a good condition and should afford you the ability to walk comfortably without fear of losing your balance. You also want your shoes to have traction, so you should ensure your treads are not worn out nor are your soles slippery.
Let’s say you were going to a cocktail party but needed to stop at the grocery store to grab a hostess gift. If you slip and fall in the grocer’s parking lot because of uneven pavement, the opposing party may argue that your footwear contributed to or is solely to blame for your fall.
Wearing heels or shoes with worn-out treads could mean you are partially at fault, and as we mentioned, if your footwear contributed to the fall or your injuries, your settlement award will be reduced. In the same scenario, you may be given a percentage of fault if you wore shoes that you knew had no traction if you fell on the grocery store polished floors, or slipped on ice while wearing heels.
Clothing & Comparative Negligence
If you were wearing baggy or loose-fitting clothing, the other side may seek to prove that your pants le or hen got caught in your shoes or caused your fall rather than the surface on which you were walking. Instances in which your clothing may be called into question include (but are not limited to):
- Wearing pants with cuffs the cover or slip under the heel of your shoes
- Wearing pants, skirts, or other clothing with holes or that are distressed in some way that can get caught on or tangled in surrounding objects
- Bell bottoms or flared hems that can get caught on surrounding objects
What to Do with Clothing & Footwear After a Slip & Fall Accident
If you are involved in a slip and fall accident, be sure to preserve your clothing and shoes. In instances where the other party wants to assign you a percentage of fault because of what you wore, these items can be used as evidence to disprove their argument. You should also take pictures of what you were wearing from multiple angles.
It can be helpful (for your case) to establish:
- The height of your shoes, boots, or heels (and how often you wear shoes of a similar height)
- Whether there was wax or residue on the soles of your shoes or the hem of your bottoms
- The quality of your shoes, especially the treads
- The appropriateness of your footwear for the environment
- Whether your shoes or clothing is defective in any way
Contact Our Premises Liability Attorneys
At Fitzpatrick Mariano Santos Sousa P.C., we have over a century of collective experience, and we are committed to helping our clients mitigate their liability and maximize their compensation. If you or a loved one have been involved in a slip and fall accident that was caused by someone else’s negligence, our firm is here and equipped to help you understand your legal options, make informed decisions concerning your case, and build a solid case.
Schedule a free consultation today by contacting our firm online or completing our online contact form. We offer services in English, Spanish, and Portuguese.