Slip and Fall refers to an injury-causing accident in which a person trips or slips, usually on someone else’s property. In legal terms, these types of cases fall under what is known as the “premises liability” category. At Lehmbecker Law, we see a surprising number personal injury cases involving slip and fall accidents.
When you slip and fall on someone else’s property, the property owner may be responsible for any injuries you sustain; for example, if you trip over an uneven parking lot surface and sustain a serious head injury, you may be able to sue the owner of the parking lot for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
On the other hand, if you trip over the carpet in your friend’s living room because you were looking at your phone instead of paying attention to your surroundings, you are probably more to blame for the accident than the property owner is.
However complicated the circumstances, if you were injured in a slip and fall accident and believe that a property owner may be at fault, seek help from an experienced attorney today to review your case and begin the process of seeking compensation for your injury.
Determining fault in a slip and fall accident depends on a variety of factors, such as:
- Whether or not the property owner knew about hazardous conditions on his or her property;
- Whether or not he or she could have prevented the accident, and;
- Whether or not a reasonable person would have tripped and fallen under the circumstances.
In most cases, a property owner is held at fault for a slip and fall accident if he or she knew or should have known about the unsafe conditions, but did nothing to fix the problem. Unsafe conditions could mean wet floors, bulging or torn carpets, low lighting or burnt out lightbulbs, uneven pavement, potholes, icy sidewalks, or obstructed walkways.
If these conditions have been present for a long time, and the property owner took no steps to fix them, then the victim of the accident has a stronger case. However, if the property owner put up warning signs or barriers around a wet floor, or took other similar steps to alert visitors to be careful, then he or she is probably not to blame for any accidents that occur.
In most slip and fall cases, the injured person must first prove that the accident was caused by a dangerous condition, and next, that the property owner knew the dangerous condition existed. A “dangerous condition” is defined as a condition that presents an unreasonable risk, and which visitors to the property should not reasonably have anticipated.
Specifically, to prove the property owner’s fault in a slip and fall accident, the injured party must prove one of two things:
- The property owner created the condition and/or knew of the condition’s existence but failed to fix it, or that the condition existed for long enough that the owner should have known about it and fixed it before the accident occurred.
- The injured party may also be able to prove the property owner’s fault if they can prove that another reasonable person in the property owner’s position would have known about and fixed the dangerous condition.
In order to prove that the property owner acted unreasonably, the injured party will have to address questions like the length of time a dangerous condition existed, how thoroughly and how often the property owner inspects the property on which the accident occurred, whether or not the dangerous condition existed for a legitimate reason, and whether or not that reason was still legitimate at the time of the accident.
For instance, a wet floor in a grocery store is not necessarily unreasonable, as it may simply occur as a result of regular cleaning. However, if staff fails to dry the floor and it remains wet for an unreasonable amount of time, then the staff would be to blame for any slip and fall accident that occurs on the wet floor.
Building Your Case
Several states use the rule of comparative negligence in determining fault for slip and fall accidents. This means that if the injured party contributes in any way to the accident, he or she will receive less compensation by the amount of blame he or she bears for the accident (determined by the judge or jury).
To determine whether or not the injured party is at fault and by how much, the judge may consider questions like whether or not the injured person had a legitimate reason for visiting the property on which the accident occurred, and whether or not the owner should have anticipated their visit.
For example, if the accident occurred in a grocery store, the property owner will bear more blame than if the accident occurred on private property while the injured person was trespassing.
Another question to consider is whether or not another reasonable person would have avoided the dangerous situation or acted more carefully, and whether or not the injured person was doing something that led to the accident—like running around a swimming pool or texting on the go.
Contacting An Attorney
When floors are allowed to remain wet, dirty or slippery for extended periods of time, or when other tripping hazards are present, business owners are likely to be held liable when someone is injured. If the business actually created the hazard, liability is even more likely.
However, businesses often will dispute or even outright deny their responsibility in these cases. Thus getting immediate legal representation from competent legal counsel is often the key to securing fair treatment and compensation in these cases. We recommend speaking to a qualified attorney at Lehmbecker Law to learn more about this type of accident, whether you have a claim, and the best way we can help to build your case.