Whether it happens at the grocery store or a friend's house, slip and fall accidents occur fairly often. In some instances, the property owner is responsible for the injured party's injuries, and in others, the property owner will not be held liable. FindLaw's Slip and Fall Injuries section provides both the basics and some in-depth information about slip and fall liability. In this section, you can find articles about conditions that typically lead to slip and fall accidents, and how to prove fault in a slip and fall accident.
Conditions That Make an Accident More Likely
Slip and fall accidents can occur for a variety of reasons. Although sometimes people just trip and fall, there are various conditions both indoors and outdoors that can make a slip and fall accident more likely. Some common reasons for a slip and fall accident indoors are because the floor is wet, improperly waxed, or if carpet is torn or bulging. Outdoors, the weather, such as ice or snow, and inadequate lighting can play a role in a slip and fall accident. Another common reason for a slip and fall injury is poor maintenance of parking lots or sidewalks.
Of course, not every type of condition will lead to the property owner being held liable for the injuries. Generally, liability of the owner will depend on whether he or she did not take the appropriate action to correct the problem or at least warn people of the problem. For example, while it's completely acceptable for property owners to mop, wax, or polish their floors, it's important that they provide adequate warnings or put up barriers around the area that is wet or recently waxed or polished.
Liability of the Property Owner
Generally speaking, a property owner has a duty to maintain reasonably safe conditions on his or her property. If a person who is injured on another's property can show that the property owner knew or should have known about the dangerous condition, and didn't fix it, it's likely that the injured person will be able to win his or her case. Of course, there are various factors that come into play, such as how long the dangerous condition had been present and the injured person's own conduct.
Many states follow the rule of comparative negligence in slip and fall accidents. The theory of comparative negligence holds that if a person contributes to the accident, his or her award for injuries and other damages will be lessened by the amount that he or she was at fault. For example, if a person was texting on his or her cell phone and not paying attention to a warning sign, he or she will probably be found to have been comparatively negligent. The amount or percentage that a person is comparatively negligent is determined by a jury or judge.
Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer
If you or someone close to you has been injured in a slip and fall accident on someone else's property, you may want to consult with a local personal injury attorney to see if the property owner could be legally responsible for your injuries. It's in your best interest to contact an attorney soon after your injury, as there are time limits in which an injured person can file a personal injury lawsuit.