Slip and Fall Cases on Public Property
October 8, 2018 | Personal Injury
One of the most common types of personal injury cases seen in court rooms today, aside from medical malpractice and injury cases are those that involve slip and fall accidents. Slip and fall cases can happen anywhere to anyone and can have devastating affects on an individual’s health and well-being.
There are many dangerous conditions like torn carpeting, changes in flooring, poor lighting, narrow stairs, or a wet floor can cause someone to slip and be injured. Same goes if someone trips on a cracked or broken public sidewalk, or falls down a flight of stairs. In addition, a slip and fall case might happen when someone slips or falls outdoors because of rain, ice, snow or another hazard, such as a pothole in the ground. In any event, the plaintiff must have sustained some kind of injury, however minor, in order to collect damages.
The Burden of Proof
With a slip and fall case, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant, usually the owner of the location where the injury occurred, should be held at fault. This is done by proving they knew there was a slip and fall risk and should therefore be held responsible for the injury that resulted from that risk. In order to establish that a property owner or possessor knew of a dangerous condition, it must be shown that:
- The property owner somehow created the condition through their actions or inactions
- The property owner knew the condition existed and neglected to take care of it
- The condition existed long enough that someone should have done something about it
For a property owner to be held liable, it must have been foreseeable that negligence would create the danger at issue. There are other special criteria that must be met regarding the responsible parties in the slip and fall case.
Responsible Parties in a slip and fall case
In order to recover for a slip and fall injury on another’s property, there must be a responsible party whose negligence caused the injury. Many people do not realize that some injuries are simply accidents caused, if anything, by their own carelessness.
what if I slip and fall on Commercial Property?
To be held responsible in a slip and fall case and to be seen as being responsible for the injuries suffered on the property, the owner of a store, restaurant, or other business:
- Must have somehow directly caused the circumstances that lead to the injury;
- Must have known there was a slip and fall threat but did nothing to correct it; or,
- Should have known of danger as part of their dutiful maintenance of their property.
The third situation is the most common, but is also less clear-cut than the first two because of the phrase “should have known”. The key factor in many personal injury cases is common sense and the plaintiff has to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the defendant did not fulfill common sense care and responsibility and therefore is responsible for their injuries. In slip and fall cases on commercial property, there are often a number of people or entities that may be held responsible for injuries and at least one of them will be found to be responsible in many instances.
what if I slip and fall on residential Property?
Slip and fall accidents can be a common occurrence in residential settings as well. Homeowners can be held liable to visitors in their home. Landlords can also be held liable to tenants or third parties when slip and fall injuries occur. To hold residential property owners and landlords responsible for an injury, the following must be proven:
- The property owner had control of the property and could have prevented the situation.
- Repairing the condition was shown to not have been overly difficult, expensive, or outside reasonable expectations.
- A serious injury easily could have been expected and there was no logical reason to leave the situation unaddressed.
- The landlord or homeowner’s failure to take reasonable steps to correct the issue and avoid a slip and fall accident.
what if I slip and fall on Government Property?
In a situation where someone slips and falls and gets injured on property that is owned by a government entity, some special rules will apply. Local codes and regulations will come into play during the trial and will affect the final ruling on who is to be held responsible for the injury on government property. Specifically, there are notice requirements and broad immunity provisions that shield government entities from liability for injuries that occur on their property. If you have experienced an injury due to a slip or fall while on government property, you need a skilled and experienced attorney who has experience with this specialized type of personal injury case.
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