Defenses to Slip and Fall Claims

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What Are Common Defenses for Slip and Fall Claims?

Slip and fall cases are difficult to win because there are a variety of good defenses. For example, if the slip and fall was due to a temporary hazardous condition such as a water spill, the property owner will probably argue that the spill occurred so soon before the incident that they could not have prevented it.  

Land owners will argue that the fall occurred because the person was inattentive, careless, or even intoxicated at the time. Proving that the person was at least partly responsible for falling and contributing to their own injuries will also result in reducing or even eliminating a claim.

Land owners also frequently claim that the dangerous condition that led to the injury was "open and obvious." If a condition is open and obvious, then the land owner has no duty to protect against it, since a reasonable person would simply avoid the condition.

If Someone Falls On My Property, What Should I Do?

If someone falls and is injured on your property, you should promptly notify your insurance carrier. Most insurance policies have a requirement that your notify the insurance company of any potential claim within a very short period of time after the incident occurs. 

If you feel that the person who fell was careless or inattentive, you may want to take the names of any witnesses who saw the incident occur. You'll also want to document the property conditions with your own photographs as soon after the incident as possible. You may also want to stay in contact with the injured guests, and keep track of their statements. Sometimes a person will change his or her story after they have spoken with friends or an attorney, and early statements may be more accurate than later ones. 

Finally, if the slip and fall occurred as a result of a permanent condition on your property, fix it. You are now on notice of a potentially dangerous condition. If others injure themselves as a result of the same condition, you'll be even more likely to be held liable for their injuries.

How Can I Prevent Slip and Fall Injuries On My Property?

All property owners can eliminate or at least descrease the chances of a slip and fall accident by monitoring their property regularly for any potentially dangerous or hazardous conditions. Water, ice, and snow are often the cause of injuries, so be careful if any of these conditions are found and minimize their danger promptly. If any other defects that could cause slip and fall accidents are found, repair them quickly. Regular maintenance is a strong defense that can probably block most claims brought against the property.

Some insurance carriers will provide a free consultation to reduce potential hazards on property. Having an architect or contractor examine the property will also provide some insight into possible problems. Don't ignore past minor slips or the advice of an expert because these things provide notice of a dangerous condition. Knowing and disregarding the risk of an accident is a way most property owners are found liable for injuries on property.

Do I Need a Personal Injury Attorney?

Slip and fall claims are difficult for plaintiffs to win but can be highly lucrative if they succeed. An experienced personal injury attorney will best be able to provide you with a compelling defense and help you through the complicated legal process.

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Last Modified: 09-12-2013 10:16 AM PDT

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