Slip and Fall FAQ
Q: If someone falls on a broken piece of a city sidewalk and is injured, can they sue the city?
A: An injured person may have a case against the city in such a situation, because municipalities have a duty to keep streets and sidewalks in repair. An injured party might have a successful case against the city if he or she can show that it failed to maintain the sidewalk properly. There are very important deadlines and requirements for giving municipalities notice of such claims, however, about which a lawyer should advise you.
Q: What if someone gets injured while at the home of a neighbor who invited the injured person there for a party?
A: Social guests are sometimes able to recover from their hosts, depending on how their injuries happened. Homeowners must tell their guests about, or correct, any dangerous conditions that guests are unlikely to recognize. For example, if an injury was caused when a guest tripped on a throw rug, he or she may be able to recover if he/she could prove that the host knew other people had tripped over it and the guest was unlikely to realize its danger. The host probably should have warned guests about it, removed it during the party, or secured it to the floor with tape or tacks.
Q: Can someone receive compensation from a store where he or she was injured in a slip and fall accident?
A: The specific facts of each case will determine whether an injured party can recover damages from a store for a slip and fall accident. Stores have a duty to keep their floors reasonably safe for customers, and employees should routinely inspect areas the public might access, to discover any potentially dangerous conditions. If a slippery substance on the floor causes a fall, and a plaintiff can show that the substance had been there for a relatively long period of time, or that the store otherwise had notice of it, he or she may be able to recover damages.
Q: What duties do property owners have regarding ice and snow removal?
A: Generally, the law doesn't require a property owner to remove ice or snow that accumulates outside his or her building as the result of the weather. However, if conditions on the property cause an unnatural accumulation of ice or snow, the property owner may be liable for slip and fall accidents. In addition, if a property owner elects to provide snow or ice removal, he or she must not do so negligently.
Q: When will the law say a property owner "should have known" about a dangerous condition on his or her property?
A: In most cases, the law will say a property owner "should have known" about a dangerous condition when it existed for such an amount of time that a reasonably careful person, under similar circumstances, would have discovered it.
Q: Is the fact that someone warned an employee of a store about a spill important in proving a slip and fall case resulting from an accident caused by the spill?
A: Yes, the fact that an employee of the property owner (or possessor) was given notice of a dangerous condition is very helpful in establishing that the owner knew of the condition and was negligent in failing to remedy it.
Q: Can a building owner's violation of a building code ever be used to help a plaintiff win a slip and fall case?
A: Yes, occasionally a plaintiff can prove negligence by showing that a property owner violated a relevant statute or code. A building owner must ensure that his or her building's structure is in compliance with applicable building codes. For example, building codes often dictate when and where handrails and other similar features must be installed. If you fall on a stairway that lacked appropriate handrails, and the lack of the handrail caused your injuries, you may have a valid claim against the building owner based on his or her building code violation.
Q: Who can be held liable in a slip and fall case?
A: In slip and fall cases, there are often a number of people or entities that may be held responsible for someone's injuries. For instance, if a business rents space from a property owner, both the property owner and the tenant (the business) may be named as defendants by someone injured on the property. In that case, the tenant is known as a possessor of the property, and has a duty to use reasonable care to prevent injury to those on the premises under its control. A possessor might also be a party who manages or maintains the property, such as a management company.