The reasons that accidents are called “accidents” is because they are unpredictable and unexpected. If you injure yourself due to a slip and fall, there are times when it might be someone or something else’s negligence that caused your accident, and other instances when it might be just random. The only way to know for sure if you are responsible and liable for your injuries and damages – or if someone else is to blame – is to consult a personal injury attorney to go over the specifics of your case.
As the name implies, a slip and fall injury is when you slip and fall and hurt yourself due to another party’s negligence. In most states, slip and fall injuries are determined by the concept of premises liability. “Premises liability” means that if you are a property owner, you have the responsibility of ensuring that anyone who passes onto your property has the presumption that they are going to do so safely. If you don’t maintain your property as you should, and someone gets injured due to a slip and fall injury, then you might be liable to pay for any injuries that result.
Premises liability maintains that the property owner is responsible for keeping their property free from defective or unsafe conditions, or they can risk being negligent for another’s injuries. “Negligence” is a legal term that means either someone does something to cause another person’s injuries, or that the person failed to act, and the failure of action directly led to someone being injured. In both instances, the person who is negligent might be responsible for paying for a slip and fall injury.
How is liability determined?
If you want to hold someone else liable if you slip and fall while on their property, then you have to prove several things. You must show that:
- The owner was aware that a hazard existed
- Although the owner was aware of the hazard, they did nothing to make it better or to fix it
- The owner had should have reasonably foreseen that the hazard would lead to an injury due to the concept of reasonability
“Reasonability” means that another “reasonable” person would have recognized a hazard and known that it could pose a danger if they were in the same circumstances. It has nothing to do with the defendant in a lawsuit. It is a legal construct that maintains any reasonable person would have seen the same risks and would have corrected the situation to prevent another person’s injuries.
When is it clumsiness and when is it negligence?
In terms of personal injury law, there are times when a slip and fall amounts to nothing more than being clumsy, and others when it is someone else’s fault for seeing a hazard and not addressing it.
Examples of negligence
- If there was a broken tile in your place of business that you knew about and didn’t fix it If someone trips and falls on it, then the property owner would likely be liable
- If something was spilled on the floor and an employee didn’t clean it up, and someone slipped and fell
- If something was placed in such a way to pose a tripping hazard at your property
Examples of lack of negligence
- You posted a hazard sign, and someone decided to ignore it and passed onto the property and got hurt. Most likely the property owner would not be found liable
- Someone was rough-housing and fell and broke their leg. If your slip and fall had nothing to do with the conditions of the property and were only due to your actions, then the property owner would probably not be liable
If someone is on your property and slips and falls, or you yourself are a slip and fall victim, it is imperative to consult Zehl & Associates, PC to determine who is at fault. Before you write it off as pure clumsiness, make sure that you investigate to make sure that your slip and fall injury was more than a random accident.