Thousands of individuals suffer injury after falling or tripping on defective stairs, rough patches of ground or wet floors. Not always, a property owner can be held responsible for such a ‘slip and fall’ injury.
If you have suffered such an injury, try to understand that it is not always the property owner’s fault. It is unlikely for a person to get things repaired; the floor cleaned or picked up slippery substances immediately. Ordinary people are also supposed to see and avoid things that may pose a threat to them.
However, property owners cannot always go scot free as it’s their responsibility to maintain their property properly. There are some general rules to guide an injured to decide if someone else can be held responsible for his/her slip and fall as well as resulting injury.
How to Determine Liability
For someone to be held legally responsible for your injury after falling or slipping on his his/her property, any of the followings must be established as a fact:
- The property owner or any of employees must have been aware of the dangerous surface but is yet to do anything about it
- The owner of the property or any employee has left smoothing slippery, caused the spill or performed activities that must have made the floor or other areas dangerous to walk on
- The property owner must have been aware of the dangerous surface because a person of rational thoughts and reasonable actions should have discovered it and done something for restoration
The third case is the most common but less clear than the other two. Therefore, liability in such situations is usually determined by common sense. Judges decide if the property owner or occupier took a reasonable amount of action to make the property safe for others.
What is meant by ‘reasonable’?
Any negligence claim is often decided by if the defendant’s action was reasonable enough. When determining ‘reasonableness’ in action by the owner of a premise, the law focuses on if the owner made attempts to clean the property and keep it safe. Followings are some crucial questions to ask any of the slip and fall lawyers to decide if the business owner can be held responsible for your injury.
- If you fall over a bulging or torn area of carpet, ground or floor or slipped on a wet surface, was the precarious spot there for a long time that the property owner should have been aware of?
- If you slip or tip on an object left on the ground or floor, was there any reason for the object to be left there?
- Does the property owner perform regular inspection, cleaning or repairing at his/her premise? If ‘yes’, what evidence he/she can produce in support of regular maintenance?
- Did broken or poor lighting cause the accident?
- Was it possible for the owner to create a barrier or put up a banner of caution to prevent tripping or slipping?
In any ‘slip and fall’ injury case, you should consider if your carelessness played any part in causing the accident. ‘Comparative Negligence’ will help you decide what actually contributed to the accident – your carelessness, the property owner’s reasonableness or both. Consult with a good lawyer to decide who is actually at fault for the mishap if you are unable to determine it on your own.