Everyone has accidently tripped or slipped before, and may have been mildly or seriously injured because of it. The question is, when is a slip and fall an accident due to clumsiness, and when does it warrant monetary compensation? Simply slipping and falling on another person’s property does not necessarily mean you can bring a lawsuit against them. In other cases, a person’s slip and fall is caused by some type of hazard on someone else’s property, which would make the property owner legally responsible. Read on to determine whether you have grounds for a slip and fall claim.
Falling or stumbling on someone’s property is not enough to warrant a slip and fall claim. Rather, there must be some sort of unsafe condition or hazard which caused your fall. An unsafe condition might be:
- wet and slippery floors
- accumulation of snow and ice
- a poorly maintained or damaged sidewalk
In addition, the property must have been aware of the hazard, and allowed it to persist. Though property owners are required to make their property reasonably, safe, they are not obligated to make their property perfectly and completely safe. For instance, a property owner would be required to try to clear their sidewalk of snow and ice, but they would not be required to make it completely dry and snow free. So after a snowstorm, you would likely not have grounds for a slip and fall claim.
A property owner has the right to a reasonable amount of time in which to become aware of an unsafe condition. A property owner would not be held responsible for a dangerous condition that they were not aware of. For instance, if a person spills a beverage in a grocery store and another person immediately slips and falls in the spill, the grocery store owner would not be held responsible, because they did not have reasonable time to become aware of the spill.
Notice is a difficult element to prove in a slip and fall case. A business typically creates an incident report after an incident occurs on their property, which usually identifies the cause of the incident and might help show how much notice was available. There may also be surveillance video of the fall, which would show how much time elapsed after the unsafe condition arose. In addition, when a hazard present and the property owner cannot take care of it right away, they are required to warn people of the danger b posting some sort of notice.
It is important to note that you have a certain amount of responsibility for your own safety. Property owners are not usually responsible for your injuries if the hazard was open and obvious. For example, if there is a large hole in the sidewalk, you would be reasonably expected to see it. Or, if there was just a large ice storm, you would be expected to recognize that a sidewalk would be icy afterward.
If you are not sure if you were injured from a fall on someone else’s property, consult with a lawyer who specializes in slip and fall cases.