Proving Negligence After a Slip and Fall
According to the National Safety Council, an estimated 9 million individuals in the United States go to the emergency room every year due to injuries they suffered from slip and fall accidents. Almost everyone has fallen down at some point, and most of us have slipped at some point. While some falls are simply due to clumsiness, others are caused by slippery floors, tripping over something, or by other dangerous conditions on someone else’s property. These causes are referred to as hazards, and they can inflict much more damage than most people think.
Following a fall, many victims suffer scraped knees, bruises, or other minor injuries that don’t require medical care. Often, embarrassment is the main result of a slip and fall. However, some slip and fall accidents result in serious injuries that can have a severe effect on a victim’s life. If you have suffered injury after a slip and fall and are starting to incur medical bills and other losses because of the property owner’s negligence, you deserve to be fairly compensated.
A premises liability claim arises when a property owner is negligent and injury to another person results. Property owners have the legal duty to keep their premises in a reasonably safe condition to avoid injuries to visitors. This duty exists for storeowners, other types of business owners, schools, government entities, and residential property owners. Some examples of common premises liability claims involve swimming pool accidents, falls down stairs, exposure to toxic chemicals, and more. The most common premises liability claim is a slip and fall accident.
Slip and falls often arise from negligent conditions including the following:
- Failure to clean up liquid spills
- Not having adequate lighting
- Having exposed wires on the floor
- Slippery flooring surfaces
- Cracks or holes in flooring
- Debris or objects in walkways
- Uneven floors
- Tears or pulls in carpet
In addition to having the responsibility to repair potentially hazardous conditions, a property owner also has a duty to warn visitors or customers of possibly dangerous hazards. For example, if a grocery store employee cleans up a spill with water, they must also post a sign warning store visitors of the possibly wet and slippery area until it dries. If they fail to post an appropriate warning sign and someone falls and suffers injury, the store should be held liable for all injury-related losses.
Thousands of people are injured each year from slip and fall accidents. Often times, these incidents lead to serious injuries that can cost thousands of dollars, require many months or years to heal, and cause untold pain. It can also be difficult to prove who is at fault for a slip and fall injury. That’s why it is extremely important to understand certain concepts that pertain to the negligence of slip and fall accidents.
When considering negligence in a slip and fall case, one must consider if the owner of a property acted as a reasonable, sensible person would have in a similar situation. Property owners have a legal duty of care to ensure that their property is reasonably safe and that hazards are prevented or remedied. This includes things like:
Length of Time – Did the owner have plenty of time to know about and resolve the hazard that caused the fall?
Reasonableness of Hazard – Did something reasonable create the hazard, like a rainstorm in a parking lot?
Acting Appropriately – Did the owner act to fix the hazard and do they have a routine they follow to prevent and assess incidents?
Reasonable Prevention – Could the owner have reasonably prevented the incident, for example by installing a light or by putting up a sign?