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Slip and Fall

A slip and fall injury, also known as a trip and fall, is a premises liability claim, a type of personal injury claim or case based on a person slipping (or tripping) on the premises of another and, as a result, suffering injury. A person who is injured by falling may be entitled to monetary compensation for the injury from the owner or person in possession of the premises where the injury occurred.

Many thousands of people are injured each year -- some very seriously -- when they slip or trip and fall on a wet floor, defective stairs, or a rough patch of ground. Sometimes the property owner is responsible for the accident, and sometimes he or she is not. property owners do need to be careful in keeping up their property. While there is no precise way to determine when someone else is legally responsible for something on which you slip or trip, cases turn on whether the property owner acted carefully so that slipping or tripping was not likely to happen. Liability in these cases is often decided by common sense. Judges and juries determine whether the owner or occupier of property was careful by deciding if the steps the owner or occupier took to keep the property safe were reasonable. Liability for slip or trip and fall injuries may arise based upon a defendant's ownership of the premises where the injury occurred, their control of the premises, or both.

In most cases, a person injured in a slip and fall on someone else's property must prove that the cause of the accident was a "dangerous condition," and that the owner or possessor of the property knew of the dangerous condition. A dangerous condition must present an unreasonable risk to a person on the property, and it must have been a condition that the injured party should not have anticipated under the circumstances. This latter requirement implies that people must be aware of, and avoid, obvious dangers.

In order to establish that a property owner or possessor knew of a dangerous condition, it must be shown that:

  • The owner/possessor created the condition;

  • The owner/possessor knew the condition existed and negligently failed to correct it; or

  • The condition existed for such a length of time that the owner/possessor should have discovered and corrected it prior to the slip and fall incident in question.

For a property owner or possessor to be held liable, it must have been foreseeable that his negligence would create the danger at issue.

Some important questions to ask:

  • Does the property owner have a regular procedure for examining and cleaning or repairing the premises? If so, what proof does the owner have of this regular maintenance?

  • If you tripped over or slipped on an object someone had placed or left on or in the floor or ground, was there a legitimate reason for the object to be there?

  • If there once had been a good reason for the object to be there but that reason no longer exists, could the object have been removed or covered or otherwise made safe?

  • Was there a safer place the object could have been located, or could it have been placed in a safer manner, without much greater inconvenience or expense to the property owner or operator?

  • Could a simple barrier have been created or a warning been given to prevent people from slipping or tripping?

  • Did poor or broken lighting contribute to the accident?

If the answers to one or more of these questions come out in your favor, you may have a good claim for compensation.

Examples of dangerous conditions:

  • torn carpeting

  • changes in flooring

  • poor lighting

  • narrow stairs

  • wet floor

  • broken or cracked public sidewalks

  • defective stairs

  • rain, ice, snow

  • a hidden hazard, such as a pothole in the ground.