Someone slips and falls or trips and falls in a restaurant, retail store, or other public space. Who is to blame? At first glance, these types of injuries often seem to be purely accidental (meaning no one was at fault) or are the result of the victim’s own clumsiness or carelessness.
First impressions can be deceiving, though. In many cases, slips, trips, and falls are the result of a dangerous situation or hazard that should have been addressed by the property owner. In such cases, the victim may be able to file what’s known as a “premises liability” lawsuit.
What Is Premises Liability?
Simply put, this subset of personal injury is concerned with injuries that occur due to property owner negligence (resulting in dangerous premises). Any property owner who makes their space open to visitors (customers, guests, or the general public) is responsible for taking reasonable steps to identify and address hazards that could harm others.
There are many examples of injuries covered under premises liability law, but slip-and-fall and trip-and-fall accidents are two of the most common.
Common Scenarios Leading to Slips and Trips
Whether in a store, restaurant, public sidewalk, parking lot, or a neighbor’s backyard, there are many common hazards that lead to slips, trips, and falls. They include:
- Icy and snowy exterior surfaces that were not shoveled or salted in a timely manner
- Uneven surfaces without proper warning notifications
- Parking lot potholes
- Hard concrete floors with spilled liquid on them
- Freshly mopped floors without “wet floor” caution signs
- Power cords, boxes, and other materials on the floor in the path of walkers
- Debris and trash on the floor
- Unmarked surfaces with a single step up or down that are easy to miss
- Poorly lit areas that make it hard to see other hazards
Some of these hazards would be considered reasonable if the property owners took care to warn others about them. Others would not, even if a warning was posted.
Proving Fault in a Legal Claim
Liability for slip-and-fall or trip-and-fall cases isn’t always clear. In general, you need to prove that the property owner (or an employee) either caused the hazardous situation or knew about it but failed to take reasonable steps to fix it or warn others about the danger.
In some cases if the property owner claims not to have known about the hazard, you may need to prove that he or she should have known about it and that a reasonable person in the same situation would have learned of it and fixed it. All of the elements above can be tricky to prove, which is why it is so important to work with an experienced personal injury lawyer, like a personal injury lawyer in St. Paul, MN.
Contact a Lawyer to Learn About Your Legal Options
A good trip and fall lawyer will help his or her clients with premises liability claims and many other types of litigation. If you are unsure that you have a case, why not contact a lawyer for an initial consultation to see if you could go to court?
Thanks to Johnston Martineau, LLP for their insight into who was at fault for a trip and fall accident and how to get compensation for your injuries.