Slip and fall accidents are exactly what they sound like: accidental falls which are caused by tripping or slipping on a hazardous condition. Slip and falls are some of the most common types of personal injury claims, but how do they work? How are fault and liability determined? This article covers the basics for plaintiffs.
Slip and fall accidents fall into a broader legal category known as premises liability, which itself is just one aspect of personal injury law. Premises liability simply means that the owner of commercial or private property can be held responsible (liable) if someone is injured by an unsafe condition on the property, whether it’s inside the structure or somewhere on its exterior lands or grounds. If the victim’s injuries later prove fatal, the surviving family members may bring a wrongful death action.
However, there are exceptions to liability. For example,a property owner would not be held responsible if someone was injured after intentionally hurling themselves down a perfectly safe and well-maintained flight of stairs. In order for the property owner to be considered liable, they must have been negligent in contributing to the safety hazard which allowed the slip and fall injury to occur in the first place.
This brings up a very good question: what is negligence?
Speaking broadly, negligence means that (1) the defendant was aware of (or had reason to be aware of) an existing or potential hazard, (2) failed to take reasonable measures to correct, repair, or at least cordon off the hazard, and (3) the defendant’s actions – or lack thereof – resulted in serious injury or wrongful death to another person. To put it another way, the plaintiff was harmed or killed because the defendant failed to do something that he or she should have done (or alternately, did something which shouldn’t have been done).
Let’s use a hypothetical real-world example to further illustrate this concept.
Of course, each claim must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. However, this example gives a general idea of the basic components that go into a successful slip and fall claim.
Many personal injury claims involve accidents which only directly affect a certain demographic. For example, only patients can be directly harmed by medical malpractice, only elderly persons can be directly harmed by nursing home abuse, and only SEPTA riders can be directly harmed by SEPTA accidents. Slip and fall accidents are far more common, simply because they can harm anyone, anywhere, at any time.
That being said, there are some common issues which tend to contribute to slip and fall accidents. Many of these issues pertain to negligent property maintenance, as we discussed in the previous sections. Some common causes of accidental falls include:
It’s also important to note that, while accidental falls can affect anyone, certain demographics tend to be exceptionally vulnerable. For example, seniors are at an elevated risk of injury due to decreased bone density, poor vision, difficulty balancing, and slow reaction time (e.g. bracing against the fall).
If you were hurt on someone else’s property in Pennsylvania or New Jersey, slip and fall lawyer Brent Wieand may be able to help you get compensated for your pain, suffering, and financial losses. To set up a free and confidential consultation with Brent, call 1(877) 654-3887 today.