Do I Have a Slip and Fall Case?
People are injured all the time in what are called “slip and fall” or “trip and fall” accidents. That’s unfortunate, of course, but just because there is a fall doesn’t mean there is a lawsuit. Human beings are bi-pedal, upright animals. Sometimes, the normal course of nature is upset, and the that upright person makes contact with the ground or the floor, often with force significant enough to break bones or cause other injury. Does that make the owner of the floor, or the owner of the premises responsible for that slip or that fall. How does one know if an accident is actionable—the result of negligence? These cases are widely perceived as difficult to win. It is not a question of proving damages, but proving liability.
Often, accidents of this variety are caused by a surface that has become slick, uneven, and dangerous. If a dangerous condition is the result of a negligent property owner's activities, or lack thereof, you may have a case. You may be able to hold that negligent individual accountable by filing a lawsuit and receiving the compensation owed to you. If you think you have been the victim of negligence, the first step in the inquiry is likely: “Could the property owner have prevented the accident?”
The Duty to Maintain Safe Conditions
Property owners are required to make a reasonable effort to maintain safe conditions. On the other hand, each individual has a responsibility to be aware of their surroundings and avoid dangerous situations. There are no clear-cut rules dictating whether or not a property owner is held responsible for an accident. It is a fact dependent analysis. Hare some guidelines to consider.
In order to argue a successful case against a property owner, you’ll most likely need to prove one of the following:
- That a “reasonable” property owner would have been aware of the danger and taken steps to repair it, which the property owner in your case failed to do.
- The property owner knew about the dangerous condition, but failed to take action, or undertook action that was ineffective.
- The property owner caused the dangerous situation.
The first of these conditions is the most common argument in slip and fall accidents, but also the most difficult to prove. In this situation the plaintiff must prove that the property owner “should have known” that the danger existed, which, after presenting evidence to the court, will be decided by the judge or jury.
Some of the conditions of your accident that the court will most likely consider are:
- How long was the defect that caused the accident, such as a leak or misplaced object, present before the accident?
- In what kind of daily cleaning, maintenance, and upkeep does the property owner engage?
-This Article was updated by Eric Kirk on 5/22/20.
If you’ve explored all of these questions and have any reason to believe that you were the victim of a negligent property owner’s misconduct, your next step is to contact a qualified accident attorney as soon as possible. I have over 20 years of experience in obtaining compensation for victims of injury and negligence. If you’re wondering if you have a case, don’t hesitate to call.