Slip and fall claims are usually based on the legal theories of negligence and premises liability. That is, the owner of the property has a duty to maintain the premises so that it is safe for visitors. Failure to uphold this duty can result in legal liability for injuries that occur as a result of the unsafe property conditions.
There are different factors to consider when examining indoor versus outdoor slip and fall legal claims. For indoor slip and fall claims, the following factors can be considered in a court of law:
- Floors: Floors should be kept free of debris, oils, liquids, and other substances that could cause a slip and fall accident. This is especially true in business establishments such as restaurants where food and drinks are served.
- Stairs: Stairs should be especially well maintained, with handrails and warning signs posted. Also, business establishments need to be handicap-accessible at all levels, including restrooms.
- Elevators and escalators: These devices are a common cause of slip and fall injuries. These mechanical installations should always be kept in working order and clear of any debris or objects sticking out from underneath the machinery.
For outdoor slip and fall claims, the following factors are often considered:
- Weather Conditions: Outside forces like snow, rain, sleet, or hail can make outside surfaces slippery. In particular, ice can cause very serious slip and fall injuries.
- Lighting Conditions: Poor lighting in some areas can contribute to slip and fall injuries.
- Parking Garages and Parking Lots: These can collect substances like oil and grease from cars, which can cause slip and falls. Uneven pavements can also be a factor.
- Sidewalks: Poorly maintained sidewalks, driveways, or other similar areas can cause the owner to be liable. However, owners are usually not liable for maintaining property that they don’t own.
Thus, in any slip and fall case, the court must examine several different factors to determine whether the owner of the premises can be held liable for others’ injuries sustained by a slip and fall.
As mentioned, the owner of the premises is usually only liable for those areas of the property that they specifically control. For indoor claims, these usually include common areas such as doorways, hallways and passageways.
For outdoor claims, the owner is usually only liable for injuries that occur on the property that they actually own (that is, within the property boundaries). Areas and sidewalks and streets are usually maintained by the city or local municipal government. However, there may be grey or ambiguous areas here, for example, when part of the owner’s property is extending off into public areas (like a tree branch or overhang of a roof).
Thus, courts will analyze whether the owner of the premises actually controlled the area where the slip and fall incident occurred. They will also consider whether they should have done anything to prevent it. Generally speaking, it’s usually easier to find a property owner liable for indoor slip and fall injuries as opposed to outdoor slip and fall injuries.
Slip and fall injuries can be serious and may require legal action to resolve. These will usually result in lawsuits for monetary damages. Monetary damages for slip and fall cases can cover a wide range of losses and costs, including:
- Hospital costs and medical bills;
- Any losses connected with scarring or disfigurement;
- Loss of the ability to earn or generate income in the future;
- Lost wages (for instance from missing work while government);
Some other remedies for a slip and fall case may include injunctions. These are court orders that instruct the business or property owners to make certain changes, such as making repairs or installing various safety measures to help protect visitors.
In many instances, slip and fall damages may involve limits on the amount a person can recover, especially for damages like punitive damages. The victim might also be required to “mitigate” or lessen the damages according to their abilities.
Lastly, each state may have its own laws regarding personal injury damages and limitations. For instance, one state may allow higher awards than others.
The difference between indoor vs. outdoor slip and fall claims can be very great, and they can involve complex legal concept. In most cases, it’s necessary to hire a personal injury lawyer in your area for help with a slip and fall claim.
Whether you’re the victim, or the owner of the premises, you’ll be needing the legal expertise and input of a lawyer. Your attorney can represent you in court and can help ensure that you understand all the legal options available to you.