Slip and Fall claims are based on negligence and premise liability theories. An owner of a premises has a duty to maintain the premises in a manner that is safe for visitors. If the owner fails to maintain the premises in a safe condition, he or she may be liable for injuries that are the result of the unsafe property conditions.
Indoor and outdoor slip and fall accidents often rest on different factors for liability. Knowledge of the law that applies to each accident is crucial to obtaining an excellent result in litigation. Lawyers who are not experienced in slip and fall accidents may often fail in obtaining good settlements because they pursue an incorrect theory of liability.
When a claim involves a slip and fall that occurred outdoors, the following factors may be considered:
1) Weather conditions: Rain, snow, ice, and freezing conditions may create situations where slip and falls may occur. Not all conditions are the stuff of lawsuits. Mother Nature is never liable but human intervention and Mother Nature may present another picture. For example, fresh snowfall creating slippery conditions is not actionable but commercial snow shoveling that creates a dangerous walking hazard does present liability. A natural accumulation of ice does not create premises liability but an accumulation created by a faulty gutter or leaky spigot does.
2) Lighting conditions: a premises owner may be liable for a slip and fall caused by inadequate or broken lighting.
3) Parking garages and parking lots: Oil and grease from cars may collect and create unsafe pedestrian conditions.
4) Stairs: Improperly designed stairs which include rises and railings out of code can cause serious injury and are the duty of a premises owner to correct and maintain.
In the case of outdoor claims, the owner is usually liable only for the property they own and control. Sidewalks and streets are normally maintained by the city or local municipal government. A premises owner may be liable if he shovels the sidewalk or has part of his property extending over the public access point, such as a tree or roof.
When a claim involves and indoor slip and fall in either a public or private space liability can be broader:
1) Floors, stairs, elevators and escalators must be well-maintained and kept free of debris. Warning signs should be posted where hazardous conditions exist. Mechanicals must be in working order and clear of protruding parts that may cause injuries.
2) Rushing employees who cause a slip and fall accident with a patron may also result in premises liability for the owner as well as a workers’ compensation suit if the employee is injured.
3) Business establishments must be handicap accessible at all levels.
Premises liability and slip and fall accidents can be complicated areas of law subject to many nuances. Injured victims should interview lawyers to assure that they have experience and success in litigating these cases. Grazian and Volpe have a proven, successful track record in slip and fall litigation. Visit us on Facebook and at our website for more informative articles designed to help the public protect its legal rights.