Slip and Falls Accidents: An Overview
A few drops of spilled soda. A rusted bolt on a staircase railing. A small crack in the sidewalk. These things seem small, unnoticeable, and inconsequential. But when a seemingly innocent issue causes a slip, trip, or fall, it can lead to serious injuries, financial struggles, and liability issues that are anything but small!
Defining a Slip and Fall Case
“Slip and fall” is a broad category. It generally refers to any incident in which a person is injured when they fall on someone else’s property. Based on this definition, some examples of slip and falls might include:
- A patron at a fast food restaurant who slips after another patron spills soda on the floor
- A hotel guest who trips after getting their foot caught on a rug in the lobby
- A jogger who trips over an uneven sidewalk in a city park
Sometimes, incidents such as these only result in mild injuries, like bruising. Other times, slip and fall accidents can lead to serious injuries, including broken bones, brain injuries, and spinal cord damage.
Slips and falls are especially hazardous when they occur in areas with hard surfaces or when the fall involves heights. Falls can also bring the victim into contact with other dangerous objects, like an oncoming vehicle if something causes them to stumble off the sidewalk and into traffic.
How To Prove Liability After a Slip or Fall
To hold someone liable for an injury that occurred on their property, the injured person must prove that:
- The property owner created the condition
- The property owner knew the condition existed, yet failed to correct it
- The condition existed for such a length of time that the property owner should have known about it
For example, if a shop owner was aware of an uneven step at their entrance but failed to fix the issue, they might be liable for any injuries. On the other hand, if a restaurant patron spills a drink and another patron slips on it within seconds of the spill, the restaurant might not be liable, because they did not have time to identify or address the problem.
What You Can Do
The issue of where the slip and fall accident occurred can also complicate liability. If it occurred on government property, like a state park, holding someone liable can be incredibly difficult. This is because the government receives protection due to broad immunity provisions. Liability for an accident that occurs on residential or commercial property, on the other hand, is generally easier to determine, although certain complexities still arise.
After a slip and fall, the most important thing to do—aside from seeking any necessary medical attention—is to gather evidence of the scene. If possible, it is important to get pictures right away. Unfortunately, property owners might clean up a spill or fix the issue once someone is injured, and then claim that the danger was never there. By getting pictures at the scene of their injury, victims have proof of what happened. If there is a legal dispute later, this can be very helpful.
Even when the culprit of a slip and fall accident is obvious, holding someone liable can still be a challenge. This is why it is important to have an experienced personal injury attorney on your side during a slip and fall case, as they will understand the nuances of your specific incident.
When a slip and fall causes a serious injury, it can mean chronic pain, costly treatment, and lost wages. So stay alert, watch your step, and always keep an eye out for even the smallest dangers.
The attorneys at Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes represent those involved in car accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and other types of personal injury matters. Our firm is one of the oldest personal injury law firms in Tampa Bay. There are no attorneys’ fees or costs unless we prevail for you. Call our office 24 hours a day at 727-796-8282 or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.