“Slip and fall” refers to personal injury case where an individual trips over and fall on somebody’s property, and as a result, sustained some injuries. This case is under the category called “premises liability” claims since slip and fall incidents happen on the premises which is owned and maintained by somebody else, and the owner of the premises may be held legally accountable.
Hazardous conditions like poor lighting, wet floor, torn carpeting, and narrow stairs are just some samples of condition that can cause an individual to slip and hurt him/herself in the property of somebody. Other conditions of slip and fall occurrences are when persons trip on cracked or broken public sidewalks, or trip and fall on escalators or stairs. Aside from these conditions, slip and fall incidents come up when a person trip over and fall because of the ice, snow, rain, or hidden hazard like pothole in the ground. In any incident, the plaintiff must have sustained certain injury, regardless how small it can be, to collect damages.
How to Prove Fault in Slip and Fall Cases?
Actually, there is no perfect way to know when someone else is accountable for your injuries if you trip over. Every case raises the issue on whether the owner of the property acted carefully to prevent someone from slip and fall accidents or if you were reckless in not seeing or preventing the accident that caused your fall.
There are many cases where an individual is injured as a result of the slip and fall on somebody else’s premises must show that the cause of the accident was a “dangerous condition,” and the of the property was a aware of the hazardous condition. A dangerous condition refers to the presence of unreasonable risks to an individual on the property, and it must have been a condition that the injured party should not have anticipated. This means that people must know and avoid obvious hazards.
The following are some general useful tips to help you in deciding if somebody else was at fault for your slip and fall injury:
- The owner of the property created the condition
- The owner of the property must be aware of the presence of the condition but negligently unable to repair it
- The condition was present for a long time that the owner should have found out and fixed it before the slip and fall accident happen
For the property owner to e held accountable, it must have been foreseeable that the negligence on the part of the owner could create the danger in question. As a sample, if the can of paint falls to the ground and spills into the aisle in hardware store, and then a day later, the store did not see or cleaned up the spill, and then a person slips in the paint and injured, then he/she can argue that it was foreseeable that the negligence of the store in failing to check in its premises and clean up the spill would lead in somebody slipping and injuring himself/herself on the spilled object.
The plaintiff can also show that there is negligence by proving that the owner of the premises violated a significant statute. As a sample, building codes usually dictate when and where the handrails and other same features must be built or installed. When you fall on a stair that lacked proper handrails, and the lack of handrail caused your injury, then you may have a reasonable and justified claim against the building owner according to his/her building code violations.
To recover damages from the slip and fall injury on the property of somebody else, there must be someone liable for negligence that caused the injury. This may be obvious but there are many people who do not realize that some injuries are accidents that resulted from their own recklessness. If an individual falls simply because he/she was not looking where he/she was walking, then he/she cannot claim damages when the owner of the premises was not at fault, regardless of the severity of the injury. If the injured person is just partially at fault for his/her own injury, then he/she may still be able to recover from the other but the amount of his recovery may be reduced.
To be held lawfully accountable for the injuries that somebody experienced from the slip and fall accident on somebody else’s premises, or the owner of the store or restaurant, or other business, the following conditions must be present:
- The injury must have caused by the spill, worn or torn area, or other slippery or hazardous surface or object, to be underfoot;
- The owner of the premises must have been aware of the dangerous surface but did not do anything to fix it;
- The owner should have known of the dangerous surface because a “reasonable person” taking care of the premises would have found out and removed or fixed it right away.
The third condition is the most common but it is also the lesser clear-cut compared to the first two conditions because of the phrase “should have known.” Liability in this case is decided by common sense and the law determines if the owner or the occupier of the property was careful enough by concluding if the steps the owner or the occupier of the property took, have kept the property in question safe.
In a slip and fall caused on commercial property, there are many people or entities that may be held accountable for somebody’s injuries. If a businessman rents a space from an owner of the property, both the property owner and the tenant (the business) may be called as defendants by the injured individual. In this case, the tenant is called as the possessor of the property and has the obligation to apply the most reasonable care to prevent injury to those on the property under its management. The possessor can also be the party who maintains and manages the property.
In the residential settings, the landlords may be held legally responsible to tenants or third party for the slip and fall injuries on the rented property. To hold the landlord accountable for the injury, the tenant must prove that:
- The landlord has control over the condition that caused the slip and fall incident;
- Fixing the condition would not have been unreasonably costly or hard;
- Severe injury was the foreseeable result of not repairing the condition; and
- That the failure of the landlord to take reasonable steps to prevent the accident caused the slip and fall injury of the tenant.
When the slip and fall injury happens on the property owned by the local, state, or federal government entity, special rules will have to apply. There are very strict notice requirements and wide immunity provisions that usually protect the government entities from accountability for the injuries occurred on their properties.
Obtaining Legal Assistance for Slip and Fall Injuries
If you or someone you love suffered a slip and fall on somebody else’s premises and you are thinking of filing for legal claims against those who are at fault, you must find and contact an attorney who is experienced in personal injury, particularly on slip and fall injuries, and discuss with him/her your issue and your potential claim for recovery.