Slip-and-fall accidents happen all the time, but not all of them end up in lawsuits. There are a specific set of circumstances that have to be in place in order for someone who slips and falls and gets injured to have a case.
If you or your loved one was injured in a slip-and-fall accident, here's what it takes in order to make a claim:
Is the property owner somehow responsible?
This is the number one question that a slip-and-fall attorney will try to address before pursuing a case on your behalf. The answer isn't always clear, but here are the main factors that have to be considered:
- Did the property owner or one of his or her employees know about the issue that caused your fall?
- Should the property owner or one of his or her employees have known about the issue?
- Did the property owner fail to take action to remedy the issue that caused your fall in a timely manner?
For example, look at the classic example of a blackened banana peel on the floor of a grocery store. In most grocery stores, there are employees roaming the aisles (and cleaning) frequently enough that a peel shouldn't be laying there long enough to turn black. Even if the owner didn't actually know the banana peel was there, he or she should have known by the time it turned black and made sure the floor was cleaned up before someone slipped on that peel. It would be reasonable, then, to blame the owner for someone's fall.
How do you prove what's reasonable in a slip-and-fall case?
Every case is very fact-specific. Because property owners have a legal responsibility to keep their premises reasonably safe for guests and customers, a jury will usually look at a bunch of different factors when deciding if a property owner lived up to that responsibility. For example, they may want to know:
- How long had the danger been present? For example, was the stairwell you fell in clearly in disrepair? Was the handrail missing? Was the light bulb above burned out? The longer the danger was there, the more likely the owner was aware of the issue (or should have been).
- Was there any warning about the danger? Sometimes, dangerous conditions are unavoidable -- so property owners are expected to warn people. For example, if the floor was wet from washing away the banana peel, was a "Wet Floor" sign posted?
- Did the injured person contribute to the danger in any way? In other words, were you running through the store because you were in a hurry? Did that cause you to miss the warning sign about the wet floor?
Because slip-and-fall accident claims are usually complicated, don't try to figure out on your own if you have a case. An experienced slip-and-fall attorney can help.