Advocates for St. Paul Slip-and-Fall Accident Victims
In Minnesota, we have all experienced the surprise of slipping on an icy sidewalk. When a slip or trip from dangerous conditions causes a person to fall down, the potential for serious personal injury is profound. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that falls are the leading cause of traumatic brain injury in the United States. Other serious injuries include broken hips, broken bones, back injuries and debilitating injuries involving the knees, other joints and limbs.
If hazardous conditions are allowed to remain on a property, the property owner, manager, entity, government agency or person responsible for the property may be accountable for damages in a premises liability claim.
Often, accident victims are not aware that they may be able to hold a negligent property owner accountable for failing to warn of or repair a hazard that the party knew or should have known existed. Some people are concerned about suing a neighbor or a business they care about. In reality, these claims are generally brought against the insurance companies. If you have suffered injury on someone else’s property, you owe it to yourself to learn your rights.
A slip and fall is a personal injury term that entails someone slipping or tripping and becoming injured while on someone else’s property. This can include a whole variety of places from the grocery store to a friend’s house. These kinds of cases typically fall under premises liability claims, and in some instances, a property owner will be held responsible for a victim of a slip and fall injury, while in other instances the property owner is not liable.
Certain dangerous conditions can cause a slip and fall accident to occur, including things like poor lighting, torn carpeting, a wet floor, narrow stairs or changes in flooring. This type of litigation can also apply to public areas like sidewalks and stairs under certain circumstances. Slip and fall cases can also come up due to injuries sustained outside because of weather conditions or some kind of unforeseeable hazard like a hidden pothole.
This page serves as a comprehensive informational tool for anyone to learn more about slip and fall lawsuits and all of the nuances involved in these cases. The sections of this page are divided by Accident-Prone Conditions, Property Owner Liability, and Proving Fault.
Conditions That Make Slip and Fall Injuries More Likely
Slips and falls happen all the time for an unlimited amount of reasons, including people simply tripping on their own. There are also certain conditions, both outdoors and indoors, that can make these kinds of accidents more likely. Some of these common conditions indoors would include an improperly waxed floor, a wet floor, or a bulging/torn carpet. When it comes to slips and falls outdoors, you have to consider things like weather, lighting that’s inadequate and hidden obstacles due to poor maintenance of sidewalks and parking lots.
Not all of these conditions lead to a property owner being held liable for the injuries under the given circumstances. For the most part, the liability on the property owner depends upon whether or not the property owner took the appropriate precautionary measures to warn people of the problem or took action to correct the problematic condition.
The most popular example of this, is that it’s perfectly normal for a property owner to clean or mop their floors, but it’s also very important that they provide a visual warning or a barrier so that people don’t haphazardly walk on a floor that’s just recently been polished or cleaned.
Property Owner Liability
It’s a general rule that a property owner has a legal duty to maintain their premises and keep their property reasonably safe for everyone. If someone ends up getting hurt on someone else’s property and can prove that the property owner did or should have known about a certain dangerous condition, and chose not to fix it, then the property owner will more than likely be liable to pay for the injured persons expenses and will lose the case. There are other factors that play into these kinds of situations as well, including the length of time that had passed since the dangerous condition was first found and the injured person’s own behavior.
Slip and fall accidents fall under comparative negligence rules in many states, which means that a person who contributed to their own accident has their award amount decreased by the proportional percentage to their own fault in causing the injury. A judge or a jury determines this amount. A common example would be someone texting and not noticing a warning sign before slipping and getting injured. The person who was texting would more than likely be found comparatively negligent.
Proving Fault with Slip and Fall Cases
Many times, it’s rather difficult to prove who’s at fault in slip and fall cases. What this section is going to entail are certain parameters that will help navigate this complicated area of personal injury law. Even though slip and fall injuries happen all of the time, it’s often very difficult to prove the property owner was responsible for the circumstances that brought about the slip or fall in the first place.
There is no formula in terms of determining if a property owner is liable in these kinds of cases, and it typically comes down to whether or not the property owner acted carefully in order to avoid any kind of tripping or slipping in the problematic area of the property.
The following subsections will help you better understand the intricate details of determining fault in these kinds of accidents.
Could the property owner have prevented the accident?
This question is the one you or your injured loved one must ask themselves first and foremost. If the answer is “no”, then you likely don’t have a legitimate claim, but if the answer is “yes” then you do potentially have a case against the property owner.
There are many subtle nuances to answering this question because every property is different. It’s also important to know that property owners aren’t necessarily responsible for problems that a reasonable person would have known to avoid. This means everyone has the duty to be aware of their own surroundings and avoid any kind of dangerous conditions as much as they can.
Duty to Maintain Reasonably Safe Conditions
Property owners have the responsibility to maintain the safety of their premises, and although there isn’t a standard rule that’s followed for slip and fall cases, it’s a general rule of thumb that property owners have the legal duty to keep their property free of any dangerous condition that could cause an injury of some kind.
The following sections are some of the guidelines that insurance companies and courts use when determining fault in slip and fall accidents.
Liability for Slip and Fall Accidents
Any person who slips and falls on someone else’s property must be able to prove at least one of the following bullet points in order to win a case for compensation for your injuries:
- The property owner or his or her employee(s) should have known about the dangerous condition because a reasonable person in their position would have known about the condition.
- The property owner and/or his employee(s) did actually know about the dangerous condition and chose to not repair the problem.
- The property owner and/or his employee(s) caused the dangerous situation.
Usually the first situation is what is commonly litigated in slip and fall accidents, but it’s also hard to prove that the property owner should have known about the dangerous condition. It would be up to a judge or jury to determine this.
The reasonableness of the property owner’s precautionary measures becomes an important aspect in showing whether or not a property owner is liable for another person’s injuries. The following questions are what your attorney will want to discuss with you before starting up a case against the property owner:
- How long was the dangerous condition present before the accident, and was it a reasonable amount of time that the owner should have done something about it?
- What are the property owner’s daily cleaning activities, and if the property owner cleans daily or regularly what proof is there to show this?
- If your injury was from tripping over something left behind, was there a legitimate reason for that certain object that you tripped over to be in that spot?
- If the object you tripped over did have a legitimate reason for being there at one point, did this reason still exist at the time of the accident?
Clumsiness or Carelessness
Most states use comparative negligence for slip and fall injuries, which means that the injured person contributed to their injury in some way or another. Thus, your award is decreased by the proportional amount that was the individual’s fault.
The following are some questions you must ask yourself if you are contemplating whether or not you are comparatively negligent:
- Was there a legitimate purpose for you to be on this property owner’s premises when you got hurt, and should the owner or his employee(s) have anticipated you being there?
- Would a reasonable person in the same situation have noticed the dangerous situation and avoided it, or would this reasonable person have lessened the chances of becoming injured in some fashion?
- Was there a warning or barrier indicating there was an apparent dangerous condition?
- Were you engaging in any kind activity that contributed to the accident?
St. Paul Trial Lawyers Dedicated To Results
At Sand Law, LLC, our lawyers will listen attentively to what happened to you and the extent of the injuries you have suffered. We will give you straightforward guidance concerning your legal options. We fight hard to maximize compensation for our clients.
In slip, trip and fall cases, it is critical to obtain a case evaluation as soon as possible. Many hazards, such as spilled liquids in a store, ice and snow on steps or sidewalks and other dangerous conditions can easily be removed. Even when faulty maintenance of stairs and railings is involved, the hazard is often easily fixed. Obtaining evidence and building a case is best served through prompt action. Contact us today for a Free Consultation.