Slip and Fall: Determining Liability

Posted on behalf of Henness & Haight on Dec 29, 2014 in Slip & Fall News

With the winter months come ice, snow and all manner of hazards for both drivers and pedestrians. There are thousands of slip and fall injuries every year. Some of these result in serious injury. When someone slips and falls and an injury results, it can be tricky to prove liability. If the property owner is responsible, the injured party may be entitled to a significant settlement. Here are some factors that go into determining responsibility for a slip and fall accident.

Was it Preventable?

Many people who are injured from slipping immediately seek remuneration. The first question to ask is, "could this have been prevented by the property owner?" If the property owner took reasonable precautions against these kinds of accidents they may not be liable. For example, if you fall on an icy sidewalk but the owner has shoveled and salted, he may not be responsible. In this case, reasonable precautions have been taken. Pedestrians have a responsibility to be aware of their surroundings and take their own steps to avoid danger.

Knowledge and Negligence

Second, you must be able to prove that the property owner knew about the dangerous condition and failed to take action. This means that a reasonable person would have been aware that a danger was in place. This can also be difficult to prove. It is one of the first things addressed in any fall-based injury case.

Reasonable Person

One of the tricks is to determine what a reasonable person would have known, and what constitutes "reasonable." Was the condition there for a long time, or was it new? What are the owner's normal maintenance routines? Was it unreasonable for the condition to exist in the first place? Could it have been avoided? If a gutter leak causes icy conditions, had the gutter been leaking for a long time? Was this a new development that the owner had not had time to address? Was the area properly salted or cordoned off? Such conditions will be looked at during litigation.

Carelessness

Finally, the court will look at whether or not you were careless or clumsy and it resulted in an accident. You have a responsibility to be aware of your surroundings and take appropriate precautions. Were you wearing proper shoes? Did you take steps to avoid the dangerous surface or situation? If you did not, you may not be able to collect a settlement.

Contacting an Attorney

If you have this type of mishap, you should contact a premises liability attorney to go over your case. Most of the time, you will not have to pay for a consult, and you can get better information on whether you have a case. If you have been in an accident, the clock is ticking towards the statute of limitations. Do not wait; call us today!