Property owners have a responsibility to see that the physical safety of their visitors is protected. Because the owner of a property is in the best position to ensure the safety of that property, the duty to maintain it properly is most efficiently allocated to the owner. Therefore, when a visitor to an owner’s premises is injured due to a safety hazard, the victim may be entitled to file a claim against the property owner. Whether the incident involved a slip-and-fall accident, burn injury, or back injury, the injured victim is advised to contact an attorney to help recover compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering associated with the accident.
Under premises liability law restaurant owners, store owners, homeowners, and other property owners are all legally obligated to ensure that their premises are not inherently dangerous. Unsafe conditions such as broken steps, slippery floors, or faulty construction can result in serious injury if proper precautions are not taken, leaving property owners vulnerable to a premises liability lawsuit filed by the injured victim. When injury does occur as the result of an unsafe condition, a slip and fall accident attorney can help.
“Slip-and-fall accident” is a generic term that refers to any accident in which someone slips, trips, falls, or otherwise injures themselves on another person’s property. For example, under premises liability law, a shop owner must clearly mark wet floors, broken steps (which should be repaired immediately), and other potential safety hazards. A homeowner must protect visitors from anything on the property that could result in bodily harm. It is usually only in cases of trespassing that property owners are not responsible for injuries sustained on their property.
A victim would have to prove the following in order to hold the property owner responsible and have a premises liability case:
- That the property owner caused the unsafe condition and the subsequent slip and fall accident (by spilling something and not cleaning it up, by digging a hard-to-spot hole in a heavily trafficked area, etc.)
- That the property owner knew about the condition but did not try to correct it (by not posting a sign on uneven ground, etc.)
- That the property owner should have known about the danger, because a “reasonable” person would have found the problem and taken steps to prevent injuries caused by the slip and fall accident (This is the most common situation, as it is not clearly defined and is determined based on common sense).
It is important to contact a lawyer from Grant and Longworth if you have been involved in a slip and fall accident. An attorney is important in determining whether your case is within the statute of limitations for your state (for instance, action against a municipality in New York state requires a filing of notice of claim within 90 days after occurrence), and access the strength of your potential lawsuit.
Our Advice: Premise Accidents
Ten steps to take if you are injured on the premises of another or public property
- First, remain calm and if possible move away from the hazard or defect that caused your injury.
- If practical, warn others of the hazard or defect to prevent further injuries.
- Notify the owner or his/her representative that you have been injured. If you are injured on public property summon the police or official responsible for the public property (eg., injured in a park, notify the attendant).
- Do not make statements implying your actions contributed to the event.
- Note the identity of any person claiming to have witnessed the event or claiming to have previously complained about the hazard or the defect which caused your injury.
- Ensured that an incident report is prepared or that the event is properly documented by persons responsible for the property (eg., store manager, parks employee or the police).
- Make notes of the time of occurrence, a detailed description of the hazard or defect which caused the injury.
- If you have a camera available, photograph the hazard or defect which caused the injury.
- Ensure that your account or any witness(es) account are included in any incident report or police report.
- Seek immediate medical attention for your injuries. Often insurance companies will disclaim responsibility for injuries when they are not properly reported, documented or treated.