Slip and Fall Accidents
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What Is a Slip and Fall Accident?
A slip and fall accident is exactly as it sounds: a slip on something on the ground, causing a fall and an injury. Legal action for a slip and fall case can sometimes be taken to recover for injuries suffered from a fall. Liability for injuries is determined by personal injury laws.
Where Do Slip and Fall Accidents Occur?
Slip and fall accidents can occur anywhere: at work, a private home, a restaurant, the supermarket, a home improvement store, etc.
The legal theory of premises liability says that property owners are responsible for keeping their premises free of conditions that could lead to a slip and fall accident. If a property owner fails to maintain their premises in a safe condition and you are injured, you may have a lawsuit for your slip and fall accident.
How Is Liability Determined in Slip and Fall Accidents?
Some states determine premises liability by focusing on the status of the visitor while others focus on the condition of the property.
Legal Status of Visitor: In states that focus only on the status of the visitor to the property, there are four labels that apply that aid in establishing the property owner’s liability for any resulting injuries on the premises.
- Invitee. An invitee is someone who is invited onto the property of another. An invitee typically applies to businesses such as retail stores. A property owner also owes a duty to inspect for any dangerous condition to the premises.
- Licensee. A licensee is someone who enters the property for his own purpose like a social gathering or party. The property owner has a duty to warn of any hidden dangerous conditions on the premises, as long as the owner knows of the condition.
- Trespasser. A trespasser is a person who enters the premises without any right of permission. Generally, property owners owe no duty to a trespasser.
- Anticipated Trespasser. An exception to the general rule of trespassers applies where the landowner knows that it is likely trespassers will enter the property. In this case the property owner may be required to give reasonable warning of hidden conditions to prevent injury.
Condition of Property: Where liability is dependent upon the condition of the property and the activities of the owner and visit, a general standard of care is applied to both invitees and licensees. The uniform standard requires that owners exercise "reasonable care" for the safety of the visitor. The trespasser is still owed no duty. Factors that the court considers are the following:
- The circumstances of how the visitor entered the property.
- The use to which the property is put.
- The foreseeability of the accident or injury that occurred.
- The reasonableness of the owner’s effort to repair a dangerous condition or whether a sufficient warning was provided to visitors.
Children on Property
A property owner has a duty to warn, as described in the situations above, however, there are new requirements of a property owner with respect to children. A property owner must give sufficient warning if the following factors are present:
- The owner knows or should know that children are likely to be on the premises.
- The owner knows that a dangerous condition exists on the premises.
- The owner knows that the dangerous condition is likely to cause bodily injury or death.
What Is Negligence?
Negligence is another way where liability may be determined in a slip and fall accident. In the simplest terms, negligence is the failure to take proper care in doing something. There are four essential elements of a negligence charge including:
- Duty. It must be established that the defendant owed a legal duty to the plaintiff under the circumstances. Generally, a duty of care is owed to foreseeable plaintiffs or if it can be determined that the harm to the plaintiff from the defendant’s conduct was foreseeable.
- Breach. The defendant breached the legal duty of care by acting or failing to act in a certain way.
- Causation. Defendant conduct must have actually and proximately caused the plaintiff’s injury. Actual causation is proven if the plaintiff’s injury is caused by defendant’s negligence. Proximate causation is proven where the defendant reasonable could have foreseen that his or her actions would cause injury.
- Damages. The plaintiff must have been harmed by the defendant’s actions. Compensatory damages are those that seek to make the plaintiff whole. These include monetary compensation for medical care, loss of work wages, property damage, and other expenses.
Limitations on Slip and Fall Accident Recovery
In most jurisdictions there are time restraints hat limit when one can bring a claim for their injury. Each state has different limitations and for that reason, it is important to know these limitations prior to the filing of your lawsuit and preferably, to know determine these dates immediately after your injury occurs.
Slip and Fall Accident Articles
Additional information concerning slip and fall accidents can be found in the following articles:
For Property Owners:
- Defenses against Liability for Slip and Fall Injuries
- What Should Property Owners do after a Slip and Fall Injury?
- Defective Sidewalk Conditions
- Premises Liability Lawyers
- Damages for Slip and Fall Claims Lawyers
- Trip-and-Fall Lawsuits: Who Can Sue
- What to do Immediately after a Slip and Fall Injury
Do I Need an Attorney?
If you have been injured due to a slip and fall accident it is in your best interest to hire an experienced personal injury lawyer if you need help filing a lawsuit. Additionally, a personal injury lawyer can help protect your rights and assure the more fair settlement for your loss and injuries.
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Last Modified: 04-07-2015 03:03 PM PDT
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