Legal Information About Slip and Fall Accidents
Personal injury lawsuits based on slip and fall accidents are a type of premises liability lawsuit. The phrase “premises liability” is the legal name for the responsibility a property owner has to keep the property in good repair so that visitors do not suffer unnecessary accidents.
The extent of this legal duty varies, depending on whether the property owner is a private individual, a commercial landowner or a government entity. The extent of the property owner’s responsibility also varies based on whether the visitor is on the property for commercial or social purposes.
General information about slip and fall accidents is provided here by the New York City personal injury law firm of WeitzPascale From offices in New York, we handle all types of premises liability lawsuits, including slip and fall cases, retail store accidents and sidewalk accidents. Our clients come from throughout the state of New York.
Contact our office for a complimentary case evaluation.
Slip and Fall Accidents – An Overview
A slip and fall accident generally refers to a situation in which a person slips and falls or trips and falls due to a dangerous condition on someone else’s property and is injured as a result. These cases fall under the broader category of cases known as “premises liability” cases, which refer to situations when an individual is injured on property or premises owned or maintained by someone else and the owner or possessor of the property is held liable for the injury. Slip and fall accidents can happen in a wide variety of places and involve various dangerous conditions. If you have been injured in a slip and fall accident, an experienced personal injury attorney at WeitzPascale in New York can determine whether you have a case.
Slip and fall accident cases generally proceed under the theory that the defendant (the landowner or occupier) was negligent. To establish negligence, an injured plaintiff must establish the existence of a duty by the defendant to conform to a specific standard of conduct; breach of that duty by the defendant; that this breach was the actual and proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injury; and that the plaintiff was injured. As discussed in more detail below, the duty that a landowner owes to a particular person depends on that person’s legal status as an entrant on the land.
Duties of Landowners or Occupiers
Under traditional common law theories, the liability of an owner, occupier or possessor of land when a person enters the premises and is injured because of the condition of the premises depends on the status of the entrant. Entrants are typically classified as invitees, licensees or trespassers, and the duty that the landowner or occupier owes to each class of entrant is different. An invitee is someone who enters the land in response to an express or implied invitation from the landowner. A licensee is a person who enters the premises with the landowner’s express or implied permission for his or her own purposes rather than the landowner’s benefit, such as a social guest. A trespasser is someone who enters the land without the owner’s permission.
Many jurisdictions still adhere to the common law status classifications today. However, some jurisdictions in the United States have rejected the common law classes of entrants as determinative of liability. Of these, some have adopted a rule that provides that an owner or occupier of land has a duty of reasonable care under all circumstances, and the status of the entrant is merely a relevant factor in determining whether the injury was foreseeable and the landowner negligent. In addition, in some states, there are statutes that govern the standard of care owed by certain landowners or occupiers to certain classes of entrants.
Common Slip and Fall Accidents
Slip and fall or trip and fall accidents can happen in a variety of different locations and be caused by numerous dangerous conditions. The following are common slip and fall scenarios:
- Slipping on spilled food or drink in a grocery store
- Tripping and falling on merchandise that has fallen from store shelves or that is improperly stacked in the aisles
- Slipping on ice or snow in a parking lot or on a sidewalk in front of a store or office building
- Slipping on a loose throw rug while at a party
- Tripping and falling down stairs that are loose, worn or missing a handrail
- Slipping on a wet floor in a public restroom that has been recently cleaned, but no sign warning about the wet floor was posted
These are just a few of the many scenarios in which a slip and fall accident may occur. Slip and fall accidents are extremely common and can happen almost anywhere.
In order to recover, a person who was injured in a slip and fall accident while on someone else’s property must show that the defendant acted negligently, causing the injury. Many accidents happen when people are simply careless; for example tripping over an obvious curb while walking and not looking where you were going. If the property owner or occupier is not at fault, the injured person cannot recover regardless of how serious the injury is. If an injured person is partially at fault for his own injury, but the landowner is also at fault, he or she might still be able to recover from the landowner, but the amount of damages might be reduced.
In slip and fall cases, there are often a number of people or entities that may be held responsible for someone’s injuries. In a commercial setting or retail store, the business may rent space from a property owner, and both the property owner and the business (the tenant or possessor/occupier of the property) may be liable. If a third party, such as a management company, was responsible for maintaining the space, but failed to do so, that party may be liable as well. In a residential setting, both a landlord and tenant may be liable for injuries caused by dangerous conditions on the property.
If the injury occurred on property owned by a local, state or federal government entity, special rules generally apply. Many states have enacted laws that grant governmental entities immunity or shield the entity from liability for personal injuries that occur on their property.
A slip and fall or a trip and fall accident can be embarrassing and result in painful injuries. If you were injured while on another’s property, you may be able to recover damages. Though common, slip and fall accidents can be legally complex. It is important to contact an attorney who has experience handling slip and fall cases at WeitzPascale in New York to discuss your case.
Copyright ©2009 FindLaw, a Thomson Business
DISCLAIMER: This site and any information contained herein are intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent legal counsel for advice on any legal matter.