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People's Law Guide

 

Slip and Fall Accident Information

Russell M Thompson, Esq.
Website

01/22/11

Have you slipped on a wet spot in the grocery store, or a spilled drink while shopping at the mall and hurt yourself? Maybe you tripped on an uneven sidewalk or pavement and have been injured. This type of an accident is known as a "Slip & Fall". A slip and fall accident is a particular type of negligence case.

If a person trips, slips or falls and is injured on someone else's property, there is a chance a lawsuit can be filed and damages awarded to the injured party. These types of cases are carried out against the owner or occupier of the property.

CONDITIONS CONTRIBUTING TO A SLIP AND FALL INCLUDE: (a) torn carpeting; (b) poor lighting; (c) a wet floor that isn't properly marked; (d) stairs without a hand railing; (e) a handicapped-accessible walkway with inadequate handrails; and (f) even a 3" drop in an elevator can trigger a slip and fall lawsuit.

TWO MAIN ELEMENTS DETERMINING FAULT ARE: (1) whether or not the property owner or occupier acted reasonably to prevent someone from slipping and falling (including the warning of a known hazard) and (2) whether or not the injured party was exceedingly careless. An attorney's initial investigation will determine if the cause of the slip and fall accident was due to a pre-existing dangerous condition; and, if it was, could that condition have been prevented by the owner or occupier of the property. The attorney must also consider whether not the injured person could have reasonably anticipated the hazardous condition and have avoided it. This is called the "open and obvious danger doctrine" and may be a defense. Generally, however, the open and obvious doctrine only relieves the owner or occupier of the duty to warn.

For the injured person to have a strong case, the owner or occupier of the property must have created the hazardous condition and have been negligent by not remedying it.

The hazard must have existed long enough for the owner or occupier to have had ample time to remedy the problem before the accident occurred. A slip and fall case often hinges on whether a property owner or occupier knew there was a hazard and failed to take adequate safety measures to remedy it before someone got injured. For example, a supermarket may claim the banana a patron slipped on had been dropped on the floor only moments before by another patron, and that, in the exercise of due diligence, a typical store owner acting with reasonable care would not have had time to discover the danger and take steps (safety measures) to prevent or mitigate it.

The adequacy of the safety measures that should be taken will vary according to the type of business. For instance, places of amusement, such as a sports stadium, have a continuous duty to look after the safety of patrons, since food and drinks are being sold, and customers are constantly carrying and spilling these items. A safety program must always take into account human imperfection and guard against foreseeable mistakes. In a retail setting, merchandise is purposely displays at eye level; designed to attract customer attention and generate profits. The customer is not expected to be looking down for hazards all the time.

The likelihood of winning a slip and fall case is greater when the injury occurs on a commercial property (office building, supermarket or retail establishment). This stems from the fact that commercial properties are open to the public and have strict requirements for what is an acceptable level of risk. Accidents occurring on residential property are more difficult to resolve. Commercial establishments also carry liability insurance. As a result, most slip and fall accident cases are settled out of court.

If you have suffered an injury as a result of a slip and fall, consult an attorney quickly to determine who may be liable and to devise a strategy to hold that party accountable for your damages.

Russell M Thompson, Esq. is an attorney who has been practicing since 1985. Located in Sunrise, his office handles Personal Injury, Medical Malpractice and Wrongful Death. He can be reached at (954) 316-8988, e-mail: rthompson@rmtlawfirm.com or his website at www.ForTheInjuredOnly.com

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