As we’ve discussed, premises liability claims are a type of personal injury case where an individual was hurt on someone else’s property due to the owner’s/occupier’s negligence. These cases are often described as “slip and fall” cases, and they can occur at residential, commercial and public properties. While these might seem like clear-cut cases, slip and fall cases can be quite challenging.
What is a slip and fall case?
Let’s face it, we all trip and fall from time to time. These things happen, and most of the time we walk away from it with mild embarrassment but no actual injuries. The important distinction between a simple accident and a “legal” slip and fall case is that the individual who fell did sustain injuries, and the fall can be traced back to the negligence of someone who owns, occupies, or lives at the property. Businesses and property owners have a duty to use reasonable care to prevent harm to customers and guests. Some examples of hazards that can cause a slip and fall are torn carpeting, wet or defective floors or stairs, potholes, and ice.
Similar to other kinds of negligence cases, there must be proof that the owner/occupier either caused the hazard or knew or should have known about it. Proving these elements can be very difficult. In determining the “liability” of the owner/occupier of the property, there are a number of considerations, including:
- Does the owner have records of maintenance and repair work done on the property?
- Could the hazard have been moved or roped off to restrict people going near it?
- Were there warning/caution signs near the hazard?
- Was there proper lighting near the hazard?
- Did the injured party have a valid reason to be near the hazard?
- Was there a good reason for the hazard to be there (i.e. construction site, employee mopping the floor)
While owners/occupiers of property have a responsibility to use reasonable care, they are not required to guarantee safety. This means that visitors must also use common sense and exercise caution to avoid injury. In some cases it can be challenging to prove that the victim was not at least partially responsible for the fall.
In determining the extent to which the individual may be responsible, called “comparative negligence,” there are a number of critical factors and questions, such as:
- Was the injured party distracted?
- Was the injured party in an unauthorized location?
- Was the injured party aware of the hazard but nonetheless chose to encounter it?
- Was the injured party impaired?
These questions play a vital role in determining liability in slip and fall cases, as well as evidence like witnesses, security camera footage, and pictures of the hazard/accident scene. If you suffered a slip and fall accident, you may be hesitant to call an attorney to see if you have a case. Accident cases are always taken seriously, and pursuing premises liability cases helps to prevent future injuries to people like you. Call an experienced premises liability attorney; they will be able to review your claim and give you answers. For a free case evaluation, contact our team at Scartelli Olszewski PC today.