Slips and falls are a normal part of everyday life...things fall on or drip on the ground, smooth surfaces become uneven and areas become slick. Some things like drainage grates or entryway mats are intentionally put on the ground as they serve a purpose. With that in mind, a property owner or resident cannot always be held responsible for immediately picking up or cleaning every slippery substance on a floor. We all have an obligation to watch where we're going.
However, there are accidents taking place every day in which a property owner / operator should have taken steps to prevent. Unlike most auto collision cases in which liability is not disputed, liability is almost always disputed in fall cases.
To be legally responsible for the injuries you suffered from slipping or tripping and falling on someone else's property, one of the following must be true:
According to Attorney Jeff Morgan of LeBell, Dobroski, Morgan & Meylink, LLC in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the third situation is the most common, but is also less clear-cut than the first two because of those pesky words "should have known." "Liability in these cases is often decided by common sense," said Morgan. " Judges and juries determine whether the owner or occupier of property was careful by deciding if those individuals took reasonable steps to keep the property safe. To make that determination, the law concentrates on whether the owner makes regular and thorough efforts to keep the property safe and clean".
When it comes to slip and fall accidents, here are some initial questions you can ask to determine whether a property or business owner may be liable for your slip or trip and fall injuries:
If the answers to one or more of these questions come out in your favor, you may have a good claim for compensation. However, you must still think about whether your own carelessness contributed in any significant way to your accident. In almost every slip or trip and fall case, you must decide whether your carelessness contributed to the accident. By asking yourself the following, you can also determine your part in the accident (and expect the insurance adjuster to ask them too!)
If fall injuries are obviously the result of the fall, for example, a broken arm or body bruises where the person hit the ground, a legal case is easier to pursue. If the injuries are soft tissue damage and not visible, arguing in favor of the plaintiff can be more difficult. If you do fall and think that the owner/operator may be liable for the accident in some way, here are some steps you should take immediately.
Who is responsible for an injury resulting from a slip and fall accident? Many thousands of people are injured each year -- some very seriously -- when they slip or trip and fall on a dangerous floor, a flight of stairs, or a rough patch of ground. Sometimes the property owner is responsible for the accident, and sometimes he or she is not. If you're injured and don't believe it is your fault, contact an attorney and provide them with as much detail as possible. A good attorney will be able to evaluate your situation and advise you as to next steps.