According to National Specialty Underwriters, there are over 540,000 slip and fall injuries requiring hospital care in North America each year. Of those, over 300,000 are disabling, and over 20,000 are fatal. As a business owner or homeowner, it is important to be aware of your potential liability if a slip and fall injury occurs on your property.
In order for you to be held liable for a slip and fall injury that takes place on your property, at least one of the following conditions must be found true:
- Either the owner of the premises or someone employed on the premises must have caused the spill, worn or torn area, dangerous surface, or item(s) to be underfoot of the injured party.
- The owner of the premises must have been aware of the dangerous surface and chosen not to correct the issue.
- The owner of the premises or someone employed on the premises should have known about the dangerous surface because a “reasonable” person maintaining the property would have discovered the issue and corrected it. To determine what is “reasonable,” the law focuses on if the owner has made regular and thorough efforts to keep their property clean and safe.
The possibility exists that the property owner may not be liable if the injured party’s carelessness contributed to the slip and fall accident. The following are some situations in which this might be true:
- The accident occurred in a location that the injured party did not have a legitimate reason to be in, and thus the owner could not have anticipated the danger.
- The injured party ignored warning signs that the spot was dangerous and walked through it anyway.
- The injured party was jumping, running, or otherwise not proceeding through the area in a careful manner.
If a slip and fall injury occurs on your property, you are advised to contact an attorney experienced with such injuries for advice.