No matter how careful you are, chances are you have taken a tumble or two in your lifetime. In some cases, a fall results in little more than a bruised ego — and maybe a bruised posterior. However, in other cases, a slip and fall is caused by someone else’s negligence, and the fall itself results in significant and sometimes even catastrophic injuries.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), falls are a leading source of injury and death in the United States. Each year, 2.8 million people are treated in emergency rooms for slips and falls, over more than 800,000 Americans are hospitalized with slip and fall injuries. Every year, about 300,000 older adults suffer a hip fracture due to a fall. Falls are also the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries.
Who Is Responsible for a Slip and Fall Injury?
Falls may be common, but the consequences can change a person’s life. When an individual slips and falls through no fault of their own, they shouldn’t have to shoulder the burden of medical bills, lost wages, loss productivity, and other costs associated with a slip and fall injury. Depending on the case, there are several types of individuals who can be held liable in a slip and fall case.
If you have visited a grocery store, shopping mall, big box store, or pretty much any other kind of retailer in rainy or snowy weather, you know firsthand how treacherous it can be to simply walk in the door. Rain, ice, and slush can build up fast, and it can lead to a serious and painful slip and fall onto hard pavement or concrete flooring.
The law requires property owners to recognize potential hazards that can cause a slip and fall and to take reasonable steps to remove them. For example, grocery store owners have a legal duty to place wet hazard signs around spills and to promptly clean up spills when they occur. Similarly, property owners have an obligation to repair potholes in their parking lots, and to repair cracked and broken sidewalks that can cause people to trip, slip, and fall.
Property owners also have a legal obligation not to create hazardous conditions that can lead to a slip and fall. This means that property owners can’t leave tripping and falling hazards in a walkway or path. For example, property owners can be held liable for slips and falls that occur due to loose carpet, power cords that extend across a walking path, and stacks of boxes or other materials that pose a tripping or falling hazard.
Municipalities, cities, and towns can’t neglect to maintain public areas, such as sidewalks, steps, and public buildings. For example, a pedestrian who trips and falls over a cracked sidewalk may be able to file a lawsuit against the city that failed to fix the defect.
If you have been injured in a slip and fall accident that occurred on government property, both the government and or the adjacent property owner may be responsible. It’s important to note that the law also generally imposes strict notification requirements and time limits on personal injury cases filed against the government. In most jurisdictions, these notification and time limit rules are quite strict, so don’t delay if you have been injured in a slip and fall accident that happened in a public place or on government land.
It’s also possible for a private homeowner to be held liable in a slip and fall case. Whether it’s a slip and fall around the edge of a swimming pool or a trip and fall down a set of rickety steps, an individual who is injured in a slip and fall accident at another person’s home can generally file a personal injury lawsuit against the homeowner.
Understandably, many people are reluctant to file a lawsuit against someone they know, such as a neighbor, friend, or relative. However, it’s important to note that slip and fall injuries can be catastrophic, and the medical bills associated with them are often enormous.
Furthermore, the majority of homeowners have insurance that covers them in the event someone is injured in a slip and fall accident on their property. If you have been hurt in a slip and fall incident at the home of someone you know, make your health your top priority. The last thing you want is to be saddled with years of costly medical bills stemming from an accident that occurred due to someone else’s negligence.