Every year, several thousands of people are injured in slip and fall accidents — some of them with serious injuries. Slipping or tripping on a flight of stairs, bad flooring, rough ground patches, and wet or icy are as are all part of this legal category.
Who is liable for slip and fall injuries? It all depends on the situation. Sometimes the property owner may be responsible, which can lead to a lawsuit.
Things to consider in slip-and-fall accidents
It’s important to keep in mind that leaks, fallen objects, uneven surfaces, and weather conditions are a normal part of everyday life. Some tripping hazards are also in place for a reason, such as drainage grates.
The property owner is not always at fault in accidents like these. In addition to obstacles or problem areas that are normal and expected, everyone has a reasonable obligation to watch where they’re going. Property owners can’t be held responsible for people who don’t pay attention.
On the other hand, property owners are responsible for keeping up their property. If a slip and fall injury resulted from negligence on the part of the property owner, you may be eligible for compensation.
How to determine liability in slip and fall cases
There is no precise definition of liability for slipping and falling, but in general, a property owner may be legally responsible if:
- The property owner, or an employee, caused the worn spot, spill, obstruction, or other dangerous or slippery item or surface to be present.
- The property owner, or an employee, knew about the dangerous surface on the premises and did not take action to correct it.
- If no one knew about the dangerous surface, the property owner or an employee should have known because it would have been “reasonable” to discover and correct the problem in the course of caring for the property.
In most slip and fall lawsuits, the third situation applies. However the wording “should have known” makes it hard to determine true liability, and these cases often boil down to common sense.
Determining what is “reasonable”
The most important factor in deciding what constitutes reasonable property care is whether regular, thorough efforts are made to keep the property clean and safe. Reasonable cause in slip and fall accidents may be assigned when:
- A dangerous area such as wet, loose flooring or a torn or bulging carpet has been in place long enough that the owner should have noticed.
- The property owner does not have a regular maintenance procedure for the premises, or proof of regular maintenance.
- An object that was slipped on or tripped over had no legitimate reason to be there, or the legitimate reason it was placed there is no longer in effect.
- A simple barrier or warning could have been created to warn of the slip or trip hazard, but was not.
- Poor or broken lighting on the premises was a factor in the accident.
If your slip and fall injury meets one or more of these conditions, and you are able to rule out your own carelessness as a factor, you may be able to file a lawsuit and receive compensation.
The Miami trial lawyers at Baron, Herskowitz, and Cohen have successfully represented many clients in slip and fall lawsuits. Contact us today to discuss the details of your premise injury case.