Property owners have a responsibility to keep their property free of hazards. There are many factors which our legal team will investigate in analyzing your case.
Slip and Fall on Ice or Snow: Property owners have an obligation to make sure their property, including parking lots and sidewalks, are maintained and that all snow and ice is removed to avoid possible safety hazards. Property owners are allowed a "reasonable" amount of time to remove the snow and ice. For example, if you fall on a snowy sidewalk in the middle of a snowstorm, the property owner may not be held liable since the storm was in progress. If conditions on the property cause an unnatural build up of ice or snow, the property owner may be liable for your slip and fall accident. For example:
- If ice accumulated on the roof, then melts and drips off because of a clogged drain, then refreezes on the ground; or
- If the parking lot causes melting ice to form puddles, and then refreezes into ice patches.
In addition, if a property owner provides snow or ice removal, they must stay on top of it and provide regular maintenance.
Slip and Fall on Stairs: As slip and fall attorneys, we have many accident cases, which have occurred as a result of defective or broken stairs. Property owners have the responsibility to make sure all steps have the same rise and depth, with visible edges. Also, stairs must be kept free of debris or other obstacles, which could cause an accident. A property owner is also responsible for making sure all stairwells are well lit, with sturdy handrails on both sides. We all have a responsibility to be careful and watch where we are going, however, a property owner needs to show reasonable care.
General Information on Slip and Fall Injuries: There are several types of slip and fall accidents including slippery surface falls, stairway accidents, fall from a terrace or balcony, parking ramp falls, sidewalk falls and bathtub and shower falls, to name a few. A property owner has an obligation to keep their property in a safe condition for those invited onto the property. If it can be proven that a property owner was negligent and knew or should have known about the dangerous or defective condition that caused a slip and fall, you may be compensated for your injuries.
What Is Reasonable?
Did the property owner use their common sense? Was there something the property owner "should have known" was dangerous? Did the property owner use reasonable care to keep the property safe? A judge and jury will certainly take the answers to these questions into consideration.
If the property owner is careful in their efforts to keep the property safe and clean, they most likely have shown "reasonable" care. Here are some initial questions you can ask yourself to help determine if a property or business owner may be liable for your injuries:
Did you trip over a broken, or uneven area of carpet or floor or did you slip on a wet area? If so, was the dangerous condition in place long enough so the owner "should have known" about it? Has any accident happened there before?
Is there a schedule in place for regular maintenance and cleaning or repairing of the premises? If so, what proof does the owner have of this regular maintenance?
If you tripped over or slipped on an object someone placed or left on the ground, was there a good reason for the object to be there? If there was a good reason for the object to be there, but that reason no longer existed, could the object have been removed or covered or otherwise made safe?
Was there a safer place the object could have been located?
Could a barrier have been created to warn people of a potential danger?
Did poor or broken lighting contribute to the accident?
If the answer to one or more of these questions was in your favor, you may have a claim for compensation. Please remember, however, you need to think about whether your actions contributed to your accident.
Should I Gather Evidence?
When possible, we recommend the following:
Photos. Take photographs of the scene of the accident, your clothing and shoes and any bruising, cuts, scrapes or required stitches or casts to document your injury.
Witnesses. If someone witnesses your fall, try to get their name, address and telephone number.
Accident Report. If you suffer injuries in a store, whether a department store or grocery store, make sure you file an accident report. You can do this by asking for the manager. They will then document your version of the accident. This will prove to be valuable in representing you for your injuries. Unless you are unable, make sure you obtain a copy of the accident report before you leave.
Evidence. We recommend you save the item that caused your fall. For example, if you slipped on a piece of fruit or a vegetable, place the item in a plastic bag and freeze it. You may also want to safeguard the shoes you were wearing at the time of the fall. These can be placed in a plastic bag and taped shut to preserve any mater stuck to your shoe.
If you are unable to take photographs or obtain any statements, an attorney at our firm will obtain as much information as possible. However, please keep in mind, obtaining information hours, days, weeks or even months after an accident scene has been cleaned up or your injuries have healed is much more difficult. Although your medical records will document your injuries, photographs and statements will prove valuable before a jury.