A slip-and-fall accident is a type of personal injury case that happens when a person trips or slips and falls while they are visiting someone else’s property. Slip-and-fall cases are premises liability claims, and the property’s owner or operator may be liable to pay damages to the injured victims in certain situations. People who have been injured in slip-and-fall accidents while they were visiting the property of someone else may benefit from speaking to a personal injury attorney at DiCindio Law.
How plaintiffs prove liability in slip-and-fall cases
Before people can recover damages in slip-and-fall accident lawsuits, they must prove the legal elements of their claims by a preponderance of the evidence. Each case is fact-specific and will depend on whether the property owner acted with reasonable care to prevent people from slipping or tripping. Cases also depend on whether the victim was careless and could have reasonably avoided the hazardous condition that caused the fall.
Most people who are injured in slip-and-fall accidents will have to prove that their accidents were caused by dangerous conditions that the property owners either knew about or reasonably should have known about. The dangerous condition must be something that presented an unreasonable risk of harm to a visitor. It should also have been the type of hazard that the injured person should not have reasonably foreseen. This means that people who notice and are aware of obvious hazards must take steps to avoid them.
To prove that the owner knew or reasonably should have known about the hazardous condition, a plaintiff will need to prove the following:
- The owner or possessor created the condition;
- The owner or possessor had actual knowledge of the condition but failed to correct it; or
- The dangerous condition existed for a sufficient duration that the owner or possessor should have reasonably discovered and fixed it before the accident.
A property owner will not be liable if it was not reasonably foreseeable that his or her negligence would create a dangerous condition. Before you can recover damages for a slip and fall injury that you suffered on someone else’s property, there must be someone whose negligence caused your injury. You cannot recover for a simple accident or because of a fall caused by your negligence.
In negligence claims, the cases frequently turn on whether the defendants’ actions were reasonable. In the context of a slip-and-fall accident, the reasonableness of a defendant’s actions will depend on whether the property owner or possessor engaged in regular efforts to maintain the property in a safe condition. If you slipped or tripped over a loose piece of carpet or floor or slipped on something wet, you will want to determine how long the issue had been present to determine whether the owner should have known about it. Getting copies of the property owner’s maintenance and inspection schedule can provide you with evidence about the frequency of the efforts that were made to maintain the property. If you tripped over debris that was left on the floor, you will want to figure out how long it had been left there and why it was placed in that location. Other factors that you will want to consider include whether inadequate lighting contributed to the accident or whether your accident could have been prevented by a warning or barrier. Your attorney can help you to consider these and other relevant factors. Keep in mind that if your carelessness significantly contributed to the accident, you may not be able to recover damages.
The carelessness of the victim
In most slip-and-fall cases, the victim’s carelessness will be a factor. Under 42 Pennsylvania General Assembly Statutes §7102, Pennsylvania follows a modified comparative negligence rule. Under this law, a plaintiff’s recovery will not be barred by his or her negligence as long as it contributed to 50% or less of the accident’s cause. If your carelessness accounted for more than 50% of the cause of your accident, you will not be able to recover damages.
Many defendants will try to place as much blame on the victims as possible for their accidents to try to reduce or avoid liability. Your attorney will examine the facts and evidence to build a strong case of the owner’s liability while demonstrating that you were not careless. Some of the types of considerations that you will need to think about when determining whether your carelessness contributed to your accident include whether a careful person would have noticed the dangerous condition or walked carefully to avoid tripping or slipping. You will also need to think about whether you were distracted by something else or were engaged in an activity that increased your likelihood of falling and whether there were warning signs notifying people of the hazardous condition.
Slip-and-fall accidents on commercial property
The liability of a commercial property owner or possessor for a slip and fall on commercial property will depend on the plaintiff’s ability to prove the following elements:
- The property owner or possessor caused the dangerous condition;
- The property owner or possessor knew about the dangerous condition but failed to correct it; or
- The property owner or possessor should reasonably have known about the dangerous condition and repaired it because of the length of time that it existed.
Slip-and-fall accidents on commercial property frequently involve several responsible people or entities that may be liable to pay damages.
Slip-and-fall accidents on residential property
Landlords may be liable to third parties or tenants for slip-and-fall accidents on rental properties. Injured parties must be able to show that the landlord had control over the area and condition that resulted in the accident and that fixing the condition would not have been unreasonably difficult or expensive. The serious injury that was suffered must also have been a foreseeable consequence, and the landlord must have failed to take reasonable measures to prevent an accident.
Slip-and-fall accidents on government property
Slip-and-fall accidents on government property must follow special rules. Governmental claims have strict notice claims and immunity provisions that could potentially shield the governmental entities from liability in some instances. It is important to seek legal help immediately if an accident happened on government property.
Contact DiCindio Law
If you have been seriously injured in a slip-and-fall accident on the property of someone else, you may have legal rights. The legal team at DiCindio Law can review the facts and circumstances of what occurred and advise you about the legal merits of your claim. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation by calling us at 610.430.3535 or by filling out our contact form.