Slip and fall accidents are more common and serious than you might think. About one million people visit emergency rooms every year due to slip and fall injuries, and many of these injuries have costly effects on their lives. The complicated laws surrounding compensation for slips and falls require a lawyer who asks the right questions in your case.
When you enter someone else’s property, the property owner, landlord, or business proprietor is responsible for maintaining its property in a reasonably safe condition. When wet floors, poor lighting, missing railings, debris, or other safety hazards cause you to slip, trip, or fall on another’s property, you may hold these people or entities accountable for causing your harm and losses. A premises liability lawyer can help determine who is at fault for your injury and whether you should pursue claims against any particular parties.
When filing a premises liability lawsuit, you must prove that dangerous or hazardous conditions caused your injury. To prove such allegations, you want a slip and fall lawyer to collect as much information as possible soon after the fall. They can use this information and evidence to pursue a claim against the person or entity that controlled the property (any applicable insurance company) in order to obtaine full compensation for your slip and fall losses.
Where Do Slip And Falls Happen?
Slip and fall accidents can happen in many locations, including while shopping, at work, or enjoying an outing with your family.
Some locations where slips and falls commonly happen include:
- Grocery stores
- Big box stores, such as Walmart, Costco, or Sam’s Club
- Theme parks and water parks
- Hotels and resorts
- Office buildings
- Common areas of apartment and condo complexes
- Shopping malls and centers
- Other retail stores
No matter where a slip and fall happened, if on private property, your legal rights will be the same if a property owner or occupier was negligent. Below are some questions your slip and fall attorney might ask witnesses, property owners, and you to determine your rights after a slip and fall accident.
What Conditions Caused or Contributed to the Cause of Your Fall?
Most falls happen because a business or property owner created or allowed a hazard to persist on its property. Always examine the area to determine why and where you slipped or tripped. Take photos of any hazards to preserve the evidence before the owner changes the area.
How Long Was the Dangerous Condition There?
You and your attorney can ask employees, the property or business owner, a manager, or others whether they knew or should have known about the hazard. Witnesses might have noticed or reported the hazard, or video surveillance footage might show the hazard was there for too long.
If a hazard arose too soon before your slip or trip and fall for anyone to know or address the issues, it might be difficult to prove liability. However, if those responsible for premises maintenance knew or should have known the hazard existed and failed to address it, or if they created the hazard themselves, they can be held accountable for your fall-related injuries and losses.
Who Owns, Manages, or Oversees the Property?
Knowing who the responsible party should be in a premises liability claim can be difficult. For example, if you were shopping in a retail store, the property owner might lease that space to the business owner. In this case, the business owner and management should be responsible for overseeing the safety of the premises.
If you were visiting a friend at a condo complex and slipped or tripped and fell in the lobby, the condo association or potentially the maintenance company might be liable.
Your slip and fall attorney can ask questions to determine who had control over the premises before you fell to determine which parties share liability.
Was The Property Owner or Manager Aware of the Hazardous Condition, or Should They Have Been?
As mentioned above, an owner or manager of a property is only liable for slip and fall hazards if they actuallly knew or should have known about the hazard, or if they created it. If a customer drops a jar in a grocery store and the person behind them immediately slips on the spilled contents, the store management had no time to address the hazard before the fall happened.
On the other hand, if someone reported a spill in aisle 13 and store employees waited 10 minutes to start cleaning it up, the store should be liable if someone slips and falls on the unaddressed spill.
Did They Identify Any Hazards or Risks?
Those responsible for a property should regularly and thoroughly inspect the premises for possible hazards or risks. The regularity will depend on the type of property, the number of visitors, the chances of developing hazards, and more.
Owners or managers can be liable if they:
- Created the hazard (such as if a store employee spilled liquid detergent on the floor and did not mark it or adequately clean it up);
- Failed to reasonably inspect the premises and so did not identify hazards or risks;
- Identified hazards or risks but failed to address the problem.
Did Sufficient Warnings Bring Attention to the Hazard?
A landlord might not have someone to fix a broken stair immediately after it breaks. If store employees clean up a spill, it leaves a wet and slippery floor, which presents another hazard until it completely dries. While the hazardous condition persists, the business or property owner should clearly warn any visitors that there is a hazardous condition so they can use caution.
When someone cannot address a hazard right away and fails to warn of the danger properly, they should be responsible for any slip or trip and falls that result.
Where Were You Looking When You Fell?
Try to remember as soon as possible what you did just before you fell. The property owner or business will certainly allege you were distracted and did not properly avoid your slip and fall. A good attorney can challenge these claims that you contributed to your fall. Make notes as soon as you can so you can recall that you were looking straight ahead and paying attention to where you were walking.
Let a Slip And Fall Lawyer Assess Your Rights
To win and receive compensation on your premises liability claim, you must demonstrate that those responsible for the property’s upkeep failed to use reasonable care to keep the property in a reasonably safe condition. This requires experienced slip and fall attorneys with the legal savvy to build a solid case against the defendant.
You want a law firm that offers comprehensive and personalized representation in premises liability cases. If you or a loved one suffered injuries in a slip or trip and fall accident, start protecting your legal rights today.