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Anatomy of a Slip and Fall Claim

Each year, thousands of people are injured in slip and fall accidents. Despite popular belief, anyone can be injured by slipping, tripping or falling; they don't only happen to the elderly. They can happen on a construction site, at work, at the store, or at someone else's home, they can happen anywhere.

Imagine you're walking in a hospital and the floors have just been waxed, but there was no "wet floor" or caution sign. As you walk hurriedly down the hall, you suddenly slip on the slick floor, fracturing your knee, hip and wrist; it can happen that fast.

Or, perhaps your toddler son or grandchild is walking beside you as you shop for groceries at the local supermarket. He slips on spilled shampoo, striking his head and sustaining a traumatic brain injury, which causes him to lose consciousness on the spot.

Later, you find out from the doctor that the blow was so hard, your child ends up suffering from language delays, sleep disturbances and behavior problems for the rest of his life. Sadly, these types of tragic stories happen every day across America, and they lead to thousands of lawsuits.

Are all property owners legally liable?

It's a common misunderstanding that property owners are liable for all injuries sustained on their property; this is not true. In order for a property owner or a lessee to be responsible for a slip and fall accident, there must be an element of negligence.

Slip and fall cases are very fact specific. A lot of it comes down to whether the property owner knew about the dangerous condition, and whether they took the appropriate actions any prudent person would to remedy it.

With the case of the spilled shampoo, we would want to know:

  • Who spilled the shampoo, an employee or a customer?
  • If it was a customer, did they report it to the store?
  • Was the store aware of the mess?
  • Should the store have known about the spill (due to elapsed time)?
  • Why didn't the store clean up the spill?

If an employee accidentally dropped the bottle of shampoo while stocking the shelves, but they neglected to clean it up, the store would likely be considered liable for injuries the child sustained.

Or, if a customer spilled the shampoo and reported it right away, but three hours later, the mess was still there, then again, the store would probably be held liable.

If the spill just happened minutes before the child slipped, and the customer who spilled it was reporting it to the store manager, then the store may not be held liable. But still, a good attorney may be able to negotiate a settlement on behalf of the child.

Your Status Matters

An important consideration is your relationship with the property owner or lessee. Were you an invited guest, or a customer? Were you on the property to do a job, or were you trespassing? Generally, property owners have the highest duty of care to invitees, such as guests and customers.

To learn more about filing a slip and fall claim, contact a Schenectady personal injury lawyer from DeLorenzo, Grasso & Dalmata!