Did you ever fall while walking on a walkway or sidewalk? Perhaps a step was uneven, ice was on the ground or a root had penetrated the concrete. It doesn’t matter what the reason, you can seriously injure your self just by walking down the sidewalk. Who should be held responsible for these injuries?
These injuries are often referred to by the term “slip-and-fall” accidents. Slip and fall accidents cause injuries to thousands every year, many of them quite serious. After an accident like this, it’s important to remember that accidents can happen and that people sometimes slip, fall, or stumble. The same goes for walkways and sidewalks that can become uneven or icy or slippy substances. It is possible to be blamed for a variety of reasons, including a negligent or malicious property owner. We all have an obligation of care to watch out for our surroundings (yes, even if we’re texting and walking, it could be us).
Property owners need to take precautions to protect their property and visitors from injury. Property owners are responsible for protecting their property from any known dangers or other things that they should reasonably be aware of. Shop owners should be aware of spillages on the floor that could cause slippage and have them cleaned up immediately. Neglecting to clean up spills can lead to civil liability.
How do you determine if someone is liable if you are injured in a slip-and-fall accident? Legally responsible parties must either be the owners of the premises, employees, or have knowledge of the danger surface.
In most cases of liability, the reason for the claim will be that the employee or the owner of the property negligently failed to fix or observe a tripping hazard. These cases are often the most difficult to prove, as the risk was not one that the owner or employees should have known. This leaves the jury or judge to decide the case on a “common-sense” basis.
The law determines if a property owner is reasonable for a slip-and-fall case. It also considers whether they make regular repairs and maintenance efforts, and how clean and sanitary the property is. How long has it been there since you fell on it? Did employees walk past the spillage without cleaning it up? Did the property owner take any steps to ensure that the ice was free from hazards if you fell on it outside? Did the object you fell on be there for a valid reason?
You may be able to make a claim for your slip-and-fall injury if the answers to these questions are negative. You must also consider whether your negligence contributed to the accident. Nearly every slip and trip case is a case where the victim contributed to their injury by failing to pay attention, becoming distracted, or both. The rules of “comparative neglect” determine the amount of fault you are responsible for versus the property owners. The property owner may not be liable for your injuries if you are primarily responsible. If the owner is partially responsible for your injuries, his liability may be reduced.
Tripping on a sidewalk is another consideration. If the property is owned by the government, who is responsible? This is a difficult question. It will often vary depending on the local ordinances and statutes. Some areas have public sidewalk maintenance as the sole responsibility of the landowners. In other cases, however, it is the responsibility of the entire city. There are many standards for government liability, which adds an additional layer of confusion. Some locations may impose a duty on the government to maintain and repair public sidewalks or roadways. However, the extent of that responsibility can vary from minimal to the same level as any other landowner.
To evaluate your case if you are injured in a slip-and-fall accident, contact a local lawyer. Find a local lawyer by clicking the “Law Firms” tab above. You also have additional information on slip and falls and other types personal injury cases elsewhere in our site.