Slip and Fall FAQs

Q: Generally, which parties can be held responsible or liable in a slip and fall case?

A: There often several parties or entities that have nexus and may be considered liable in a slip and fall case. For instance, if someone has a slip and fall at a place of business wherein the business owner is actually a tenant renting space from a landlord, said landlord may also be held liable as the property owner of the location where the injuries were incurred. In such a case, the courts are likely to find that it is the property owner that has the duty to use reasonable care to prevent a slip and fall on the business premises. If the property is managed by a leasing agency, the agency may also be cited with liability.

Q: I tripped and fell on a city sidewalk because part of the sidewalk was broken – and I was injured. Can I sue the city?

A: Yes, municipalities can be held liable for failing to maintain and repair a damaged sidewalk as well as failing to warn pedestrians to be cautious near the damaged area. However, bringing a case against a municipality is a complex process involving specific rules and regulations with regard to deadlines and notices of claim. It is imperative to enlist the input of a qualified attorney with direct experience in successfully bringing slip and fall cases against municipalities.

Q: What if a guest slips and falls at my house? Are they able to bring a case against me?

A: It is your responsibility to maintain a safe area for guests. For instance, if you are aware of a loose floorboard, or a torn area of carpet, or even a step that could pose a potential threat to physical safety, you are required to exercise duty of care by repairing such areas or clearly communicating with guests that they need to exercise caution in certain areas. Whether or not your guest is able to make a claim against you depends on how the accident occurred and whether you had made reasonable efforts to correct or warn your guest about a hazardous area that could result in a slip and fall.

Q: What if I didn’t know there was a hazardous area on my property? How can the law determine whether or not I should have noticed a problem if the person who tripped and fell didn’t see it either?

A: Generally, such situations are weighed in terms of whether or not a reasonably careful person would have noticed a hazardous area that had existed for a period of time. For instance, if you own five acres of woodland property and did not notice that a large branch had fallen overnight and caused someone to trip and fall, it may be considered reasonable that you did not know about it. However, other circumstances on your property, such as a damaged area on your walkway that you pass by daily might indicate that a reasonable careful person would have noticed it over a period of time.

Q: I fell slipped and fell in a store. Can I receive compensation for my injuries?

A: Slip and fall cases that occur in stores are subject to an evaluation of the facts on a case by case basis. Generally, stores have a duty to keep their floors safe for customers; this includes keeping the floors dry. If you walk in to a store and the manager warns you right away that water has been spilled and directs you to steer clear of a certain area until it can be properly cleaned up, you have the responsibility proceed with caution and avoid said area. However, the owner knows about the spilled water, and sees you walk in and fails to warn you, he is negligent and you may be able recover damages; in such an instance, the injured party would need to demonstrate the owner knew about the spill but failed to give warning of a potentially dangerous situation.

Q: Is there a law that states that I must shovel my walk if it snows or remove ice?

A: Under normal circumstances, snow and ice accumulating outside your property as a result of inclement weather does not create a situation where you are required by law to remove it. However, an accumulation of ice or snow over a period of time that is presenting hazardous conditions could render you liable if someone slips and falls. If you have fallen as a result of slipping on snow or ice on someone’s property, or an individual is citing you as failing to remove ice on property that resulted in an injury, it is very important to enlist the counsel of a qualified attorney as soon as possible.