With such a straightforward name, the definition of “slip and fall” seems pretty obvious. But what about the legal definition? A slip and fall case is an example of a tort – a civil wrong that unfairly causes someone else to suffer loss or harm, resulting in legal liability for the person “committing” the act. In a slip and fall, the victim claims makes a claim that the property owner was negligent in permitting a dangerous condition to exist.
On it’s own, slipping is a fairly normal occurrence. And most people would agree that we have a personal obligation to watch where we’re going. However, there are certainly some scenarios in which the role a property owner’s negligence plays in an accident cannot be denied and is a matter of premises liability.
When determining liability, the property owner involved in the accident must satisfy one of the following conditions in order to be considered legally responsible:
- The owner of the premises, or an employee, must have caused the spill, worn/torn spot, or other slippery surface or item to exist or remain unfixed.
- The owner/employee must have known of the dangerous situation but done nothing to remedy it.
- The owner/employee should have recognized the dangerous situation, because a “reasonable” person would have discovered, repaired or removed it.
Figuring out what “reasonable” and “should have” mean in a legal context is the main reason that slip and fall cases can become so contentious. In order to determine “should have,” the law usually examines a property owner’s routine, checking to see whether or not he or she makes regular, comprehensive efforts to ensure the property is safe and well-maintained. Another important factor is time. How long had the brick been dislodged in the walkway? Long enough for someone to notice? Factors that may have indirectly caused the accident, such as poor-lighting, can also contribute to fault.
Finally, the insurance adjuster will measure your own carelessness against the carelessness of the property owner. This is known as comparative negligence. If the insurance adjuster determines that you were acting carelessly – the dislodged brick was in an area off-limits to patrons, for example – he or she will decrease your potential compensation accordingly.
If you were involved in a slip and fall accident, please contact us. We’ll help you evaluate your claim and make sure you receive the compensation you deserve.
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