Your Premises Liability Injury: Was It A Slip And Fall Or Trip And Fall?
Legally speaking, slip-and-fall cases involve slips, trips, stumbles or other missteps, with or without an actual fall. An injury can occur as a result of falling and striking the ground or another object, or simply by twisting and turning to “catch” yourself to prevent a fall. Injuries can involve parts of one’s body that strike the ground or other object; or joints, muscles and ligaments twisted to try to stop the fall.
Frequently seen injuries in a slip-and-fall accident include feet or foot, ankles, knees, hips, back, neck, hands, wrists, elbows, shoulders and head; and can include anything from mild scrapes, cuts, contusions and bruises to fractures, torn ligaments, spinal disc injuries and even concussions and traumatic brain injuries. These accidents can occur indoors or outdoors; on private residential property, commercial, business or government-owned property; anywhere from the sidewalk, street or parking lot to store aisles, hallways, steps and stairways. A slip-and-fall accident can occur while at work, walking the dog, shopping, attending an event, or just visiting a friend.
Slip-and-fall accidents can affect all individuals. However, certain populations are more at risk of suffering this type of accident than others. In particular, slips, trips, and falls disproportionately affect senior citizens and older Americans. In fact, according to one CDC study, in just one year older Americans experienced 29 million falls that caused seven million injuries.
Proving Liability In Slip-And-Fall Cases
A slip-and-fall lawsuit, also known as a trip-and-fall case, has very specific facts that must be proven before the injured person may recover compensation.
Condition Of Property
First, there must be sufficient evidence to prove a dangerous or defective condition of or on the property or land. Such conditions may include inadequate, broken or burned out lights and lighting; broken, bumpy, warped or uneven surface; objects or items on the surface, such as trash, water, oil, grease, toys or other “things”; worn out, torn, or improper floor covering, carpets or mats; and even snow, ice or rain water that has not been timely and/or properly addressed by the property owner. For a slip-and-fall case to be successful, the condition of the property or what “caused” the fall must be able to be proven.
Notice To Property Owner
Simply proving the dangerous or defective condition of the property is not enough to prove the land or property owner was negligent in a slip-and-fall case. There must also be evidence to prove that the property owner knew or should have known of the dangerous or defective condition of the property and that there was sufficient time for them to have had it fixed, removed or place warnings. Actual notice is not always available, nor always required. “Constructive notice” can be established by proving how long the dangerous or defective condition was present and allowed to remain – so that in the normal course of events the property owner “should have” discovered the problem, and had an opportunity to fix, repair, remove or warn about the condition.
In order to be able to recover compensation for injuries resulting from a slip-and-fall accident, an injured party must also prove that he or she was not at fault for causing or contributing to the injuries. The law requires every person to act reasonably for their own protection – in other words, you must watch where you are going. If a dangerous or defective condition is so open and obvious that any reasonable person would have been able to see and avoid it, a person’s own negligence may limit or even prevent that person from recovering compensation. Contributory or comparative negligence is a defense the property owner may assert, claiming that the injured person’s own conduct is the reason they were hurt.
Other Responsible Parties
In general, the property owner is typically responsible for the condition of the property. There are many situations however where someone other than the property owner may be responsible for the condition, maintenance or repair of the land or property. The responsible party can be a person, company, group, agency or governmental unit. Some examples of a “possessor in control of property” include: a tenant instead of the landlord; a maintenance, landscape or snow removal company hired by a property owner; a construction company working on land owned by someone else; a public utility company whose pipes, wires or other objects cross or lie on land owned by another. There may also be situations where a third-party person or entity directly caused the dangerous or defective condition to occur or exist in the first place.
Duty Of Care
Different classes of property owners have a different level of care required to avoid harm to others who may use, cross or be present on their property. Similarly, the status of the injured person may also affect the level of care required. There are significant differences in the responsibility of care owed to a residential invitee, a business invitee, a member of the general public and or a trespasser. There are even some circumstances where a property owner may be “immune” from liability for injuries, such as certain governmental entities.
Working with an experienced lawyer can increase the likelihood that you are able to present evidence that meets the legal proofs required. Additionally, working with an attorney increases the likelihood that your complaint filed in the matter will include all relevant causes of action making it less likely that your matter will be dismissed or that you will face an adverse summary judgment.
What Types Of Injuries Are Common In Slip-And-Fall Cases?
Falls are a leading cause of injury and death for older Americans. In this population, slips and trips account for the vast majority of serious injuries like broken bones, bone fractures, and traumatic brain injuries. Because every fall is different and different people will try to brace themselves in different ways, injuries resulting from a fall can occur in both the arms, legs, and extremities and also in the body’s core.
However, falls can produce serious injuries in any person. Aside from the common serious injuries described above, more minor wounds like cuts, scrapes and bruises can also be inflicted. If you have fallen, it is wise to seek medical attention because a seemingly minor injury could actually be a sign of a more serious condition.
Call Us Today For Representation After A Fall
Slip-and-fall cases are some of the most complex cases in the field of personal injury law. The trial attorneys at Schmidt, Kirifides & Rassias, have the skill and experience necessary to obtain the maximum compensation available. For a free consultation, call us at 610-601-5399 or contact us online.