Slip and Fall Accidents

A slip and fall accident could happen to anyone, as a result of a number of circumstances; after all, accidents are unpredictable If the accident was a result of negligence, you may be able to file a claim against the liable party. Regardless of location or fault, any injury sustained on another’s property can be considered in court as a premises liabilities claim.

Who is at Fault
After an accident, it is important to determine who is responsible; basically who you are going make a claim against. If you were in a public setting, this is even more important. In a building, such as a store or restaurant, the fall may be the responsibility of either the business’s owner or the landlord. A structural issue, such as a leaking roof or defective staircase, is typically the fault of the landlord. However, if the cause of the accident is something that the owner of the business (or its employees) did or did not do, then the landlord is not at fault, but the owner of the business is still responsible. A common example of store operators’ fault includes floors that are slippery from being recently cleaned or waxed.

In a non-commercial location, the property owner is responsible. At a rental property, the landlord is again responsible for the structure of the building. The tenants are responsible for the items in the rental apartment, house or town home. However, if the tenant was aware of the dangerous circumstances and did not inform the landlord, the tenant may share some or all of the responsibility.

Personal Carelessness
As accidents do happen because of human error in some cases, it is possible that a slip occurred because of your own carelessness. A personal injury claim can only be successful if the condition was a result of something other than your carelessness. When deciding to file a claim for injuries as a result of tripping or slipping, it is important to consider whether a reasonable and careful person would have done the same actions. For example, if a store owner has an employee clean the floors and use a caution sign to inform customers, it is increasingly unlikely that the injury sustained would be the owner’s fault. Additionally, if you are engaging in activities that lead you to be distracted and less careful, it may be harder to prove liability on the responsibility party.

Proving Liability
In order for the party thought to be at fault for the accident to be proven responsible, one of the following situations needs to be true.

  • The party created the dangerous condition.
  • The party was aware of the condition but did not resolve the issue safely or at all
  • The party should have been aware of the condition as it existed for a reasonable amount of time and failed to notice or failed to correct the situation

In any of the above circumstances, it is difficult to determine if the party thought to be responsible acted in a manner that coincides with one of the mentioned situations. In an example where a customer slipped on a wet floor, several factors should be taken into consideration. These factors could include the amount of liquid on the floor, how long the liquid was on the floor, whether appropriate signage warned customers of a wet floor, and if it is reasonable to expect that area of the floor to be slippery. If a floor is slick because of a beverage that was just spilled thirty seconds ago, it is unlikely that the employees of the business had proper time to correct the situation. However, if a floor is unnecessarily slippery because an employee is mopping the floor and did not use proper warning cones, the owner may be able to be held responsible for an injury.

In any case, it is wise to meet with an attorney as soon as possible in order to determine fault and whether a premises liabilities claim can be made. For employees who have slipped or fallen and sustained an injury while on the job, look into worker’s compensation for more information.

For assistance with your legal matter, we invite you to call on our trial attorneys to ascertain how the law firm of W. Morris Taylor, P.C., can put over 80 combined years of legal experience to work for you, call us at (314) 725-7000, or contact us online. Discover how we earned our reputation for excellence and our track record of success.

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