People frequently slip and fall — and while not all slip and fall accidents cause serious injury, some may result in concussion or traumatic brain injury; hip fractures; back and spinal cord injuries; or other types of sprains or bone fractures. If your slip and fall accident happened on a property owned by someone else, and was a direct result of negligence, you are entitled to full compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and other damages.
Slips and falls may be a result of wet or slick floors from spilled liquid that was not promptly cleaned up; dangerously constructed walkways or stairs; improper maintenance of stairways or railings; sidewalk cracks, potholes and other surface irregularities, just to name a few causes.
Slips and falls are particularly dangerous four older adults, who suffer injuries in such accidents more often than younger people.
What are the Laws on Premises Liability Cases?
The legal rules applicable to a slip and fall accidents are “duty of care” and “proof of notice” – in other words, that the defendant was responsible for maintaining a safe property, and that they breached that duty by not fixing a situation that they knew to be dangerous.
Duty of Care
The owner of a property (or occupier such as a tenant) who has control over the premises owes a legal duty to keep the property reasonably safe for all visitors who enter the property. The injured person typically must be either an invitee or licensee. An invitee is on the property with the owner’s consent, such as an invited guest. In terms of businesses, all customers are considered invitees. A licensee may be a repair person or vendor, or someone who is performing a legal duty for the owner, such as a mail carrier or gas meter reader. In some cases, even those on the property without consent may be protected.
Also, a property owner is generally not liable if a person is injured on their property when acting in a dangerous or careless way.
A landowner may also owe a duty for hazards outside their property, if the hazard was caused by something within their property, such as a leaky pipe that creates a slip hazard on the sidewalk, or a tree whose overhanging branches create a hazard.
Proof of Notice
Suppose you’re in a supermarket selecting fruit in the produce section. You step on something slippery that causes you to fall and you sustain a broken wrist. Food stores are responsible for periodically checking their aisles to ensure there is nothing on the floor that poses a danger to its customers. Most stores keep a “sweep log” to document when the store was last checked for dangerous conditions and by whom. If the store’s log shows that the produce floor was last checked only a few moments before your injury, the store may not be held liable. However, if it had been a matter of hours before the previous check, or if other evidence, such as video, exists to show that the person who says they performed the sweep was negligent, then you may have a good case for damages against the store.
Uneven surfaces, such as cracked pavement or sidewalks are a frequent cause of tripping accidents. Other dangerous conditions include abrupt changes in elevation, or potholes. Whether the sidewalk or pavement is under the jurisdiction of a city, a company such as a store or a bank, the entity responsible for maintaining the property must remedy it within a reasonable time, either by repairing it or blocking off the area with clear signage alerting people to the danger.
Regardless of cause, to prove liability in slip-and-fall or trip-and-fall cases the following conditions must be present:
The property owner had a duty of care to keep the property safe, whether contractual or implied;
There was negligence on the part of the owner or property manager that resulted in a dangerous condition;
The dangerous condition existed long enough that the owner should have been aware of it and able to take remedial measures to resolve the problem;
You suffered injuries when you slipped or tripped on the dangerous condition.
What to do if You Sustained a Slip and Fall Injury
If you have been injured while at a store, amusement park, office building or any other type of business residential property or public property, it is important to properly document the fall or the accident, take notes, take photos if possible, and file an incident report with the property manager or incident department. Most importantly, you want to get the proper medical care for your injuries, and speak with a doctor regarding any continuing pain you may have.
Seeking sound and effective legal advice can be invaluable when determining your claim against the landowner. It is important to speak with an experienced slip and fall attorney and premises liability lawyer that can properly evaluate your claim and give you an honest and fair evaluation of your claim.
TorkLaw is experienced in handling serious cases involving slip-and-fall and trip-and-fall cases and will help you receive maximum recovery for your injuries, medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages.