A slip and fall accident can cause serious, even catastrophic, injuries. Although slip and fall claims are a somewhat common form of premises liability, they are not always simple. Commercial and residential property owners may be liable for injuries suffered in a fall on their premises, but only under certain circumstances.
The main elementin a slip and fall claim is carelessness. More specifically, who was careless, and whose carelessness caused the slip and fall. The key to whether you have a case is in determining where the negligence, and therefore the fault, lies.
Did the Property Owner Act Reasonably?
If you’re injured in a slip and fall, how can you judge whether you have a strong claim against the property owner?
You probably have a good case if the property owner, or the owner’s agent, knew or should have known about the hazardous condition that caused your injuries. If the owner knew of a hazard and failed to remedy the condition, you are likely to have a strong claim for damages.
The key is foreseeability. If a property owner knows of a dangerous condition on the property, any reasonable person could foresee that someone may become injured by the hazard. By not repairing the condition, the property owner is negligent in preventing injury.
Was the Injured Person Exceedingly Careless?
While a known hazard is something a property owner has a legal duty to correct, the existence of such a hazard is no guarantee that the injured person has a valid legal claim for damages. If the injured person’s own carelessness caused his or her injuries, the property owner may not be liable.
For example: if a supermarket floor is wet from a leaking refrigerator and a shopper slips, breaking a bone, the shopper may have a strong claim. This is particularly true if the appliance had been leaking for some time.
However, if the injured shopper had been running and purposefully sliding on the wet floor for fun, then any injury can be attributed to the shopper’s careless actions, rather than the shopkeeper’s negligence.