Slip and Fall Law
What is Slip and Fall Law?
Slip and fall law refers to the liability rules governing cases in which an individual falls to the ground and suffers harm due to a dangerous condition on someone else’s property. As a subset of personal injury law, these cases are controlled by the basic rules of negligence. Unless an accident occurs on federal government property, state law will control. Violations of local building code ordinances can also be relevant.
Despite the reference to a “slip,” this area of the law covers any accident that results from the victim encountering an unsafe condition underfoot, whether it produces a stumble, overextension, twist, or other movement. Direct causes can include spilled liquids or food, cracked sidewalks, objects on the stairs, ice and snow, broken floor tiles, uneven steps, and potholes. Indirect causes, such as dim lighting or missing handrails, can also contribute.
At the outset of a slip and fall lawsuit, the responsible parties must be identified. While fault can usually be traced to an individual employee or tenant who caused the hazard, there will be additional parties who exercised control or ownership of the accident site. These may include the property manager, business owner, landlord, or the owner of the property. In most cases, one or more of these parties will have liability insurance covering the property.
If the identity of a responsible party cannot be immediately determined, or if there is uncertainty as to the precise name of one of the defendants, most jurisdictions allow the lawsuit to name a “John Doe” defendant. Once the responsible party has been identified, the court documents can be amended to substitute the correct name in place of John Doe. This allows a plaintiff who is still researching the case to file the claim on time.
Special considerations arise when a slip and fall accident takes place on public property. Foremost is the issue of sovereign immunity. Historically, individuals were completely barred from suing the government for negligence. In modern times this rule has been amended by statute, and the government now allows itself to be sued in limited circumstances. If an injury does qualify, victims must also comply with strict notice requirements and time limits.
Proving the Defendant is Liable
Unless it is a rare case involving intentional conduct by the defendant, a slip and fall case will require the plaintiff to prove negligence. Negligence means that the defendant failed to act in a reasonable manner under the circumstances. For example, it is reasonable to expect a store clerk will place warning signs in recently mopped areas. If this is not done, and a customer slips on the wet floor and gets hurt, the store may be liable for negligence.
Whether someone acted negligently will depend on what they knew. This is especially true in slip and fall cases, as the defendant’s knowledge of the dangerous condition will usually be determinative. The plaintiff is entitled to find out what the defendant knew through a procedure called discovery. During discovery, the defendant can be forced to turn over maintenance records, repair logs, surveillance video, and other such items.
A slip and fall victim is also permitted to gather sworn testimony regarding what happened. The plaintiff does not need to wait until trial to learn what the witnesses will say. This is accomplished by conducting depositions (recorded interviews). Subpoenas can be issued to the defendant and other parties to show up to be deposed at the office of the plaintiff’s attorney, and to answer questions about the accident on the record.
Deposition testimony is crucial in a negligence case. By securing this evidence early in the litigation, both the plaintiff and the defendant gain an understanding of the circumstances that led to the accident and the degree of fault that can be attributed the defendant. Taking into account the severity of the injury, both sides can then determine what they believe the case is worth, and settlement negotiations will ensue.
Cases that initially appear favorable to the plaintiff are often derailed once the plaintiff’s own conduct is analyzed. Defendants in slip and fall cases are sure to raise the issue of comparative fault. Also called contributory negligence, the basic idea is that the victim was careless in not avoiding the danger, and shares some or all of the blame. To avoid such a defense, slip and fall victims should retain an attorney before speaking with anyone about the incident.
Know Your Rights!
Articles About Slip and Fall Law
- Dangers Of Parking Lot WheelstopsWheelstops are commonly used in parking lots across the country to indicate spaces where vehicles can park. Some may call them parking blocks or curb stops, but many do not realize how dangerous these can be to pedestrians crossing in their path.
- Slip and Fall: What Constitutes Negligence?We’ve all done it. One minute you’re walking along, then – bam! – you slip or trip and find yourself on the floor. Slip and fall accidents have a self-explanatory name, but they often result in a more complicated legal case than one would expect. If you’ve been injured on another person’s property or own property on which someone was injured, it’s important to understand what constitutes negligence and who may be held legally responsible.
- Personal Injury: When Is the Right Time to Settle?After an accident, it can be difficult to assess if the personal injury settlement you’ve been offered is fair. Know when it is time to renegotiate.
- Bicycle Accident Insurance: What Would Your Attorney Recommend?Bicyclists and drivers share a lot of the same roads, but their transportation modes are completely different.
- 10 Lies Auto Insurance Companies Tell You After a Car AccidentInsurance companies deal with car accidents all the time, and their process to sweep it away is highly efficient.
- Proving Your Slip and Fall Case in New YorkIt's important to know how NY Courts look at slip and fall cases and what makes a property owner at fault for a slip, trip, or fall on their property.
- How to Get the Maximum Payout You’re Entitled To From the Insurance Company Without the HassleWhen you’re injured in a car accident, you’ll definitely be in touch with insurance companies. Some are faster than others, and they all want to get you your money. But, of course, the money they offer is usually way, way less than what they may owe, and that puts you in a very tough position. On one hand, you can get your money all up front, and then you’ll be done with any paperwork and additional hassle.
- How to Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer and Get the Compensation You Actually DeserveInsurance company representatives are usually quick to help pay for your car’s damage and immediate medical bills. But stop. Wait a second. Why are they so fast about it?
- What Are Slip and Fall Injuries and When Can I Recover?Accidental incidents occur with frequency, and these situations arise in older individuals. When a person slips or falls, he or she is usually harmed as a result. However, these instances of injury could be extensive enough to require medical assistance.
- Necessary Elements to Prove in a Slip and Fall CaseSlips and fall accidents occur with great frequency at home and in certain industries where the risks of danger are greater than in others. These incidents may be harmful in minor to major degrees of injury, but when the elderly experience these situations, they may become deadly.
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Slip and Fall Law - US
- Settlement Guide - Slip and Fall Accident Cases
Sample pleadings, negotiation tips, frequently asked questions, and other resources for slip and fall victims.
- Slip and Fall - Wikipedia
Wikipedia offers this discussion of slip and fall law in the United States including investigative techniques and potential defenses for property owners.
- Slip and Fall Accident Information
A general overview of slip and fall litigation, including the three most common ways for injured plaintiffs to establish liability. Useful tips, such as photographing the scene, are also discussed.