What is a Slip and Fall Case?
Slip and Fall claims are pretty much what they sound like- someone either slips or falls down on someone else’s property, gets hurt, and takes legal action. Slip and Fall cases are a type of what is called a premises liability case, which means being hurt on someone else’s property. They are quite common, unfortunately. In order to succeed in a slip and fall case, you need to prove four things:
A duty of care that was breached.
Property owners must keep their place in a reasonably safe condition so that other people do not get hurt. If they were careless and kept their property in an unsafe condition, they may be responsible if somebody gets hurt. The person who was injured must have had a right to be there- by invitation or because they were in a public place. This is why burglars cannot sue if they get hurt after breaking into someone’s house. The same rule applies to trespassers.
Did the property owner of someone who worked there know that the unsafe condition existed? If they did not know, should they have known? There are time factors built into this requirement, too. For instance, if a person breaks a glass and at that same moment someone else falls on to it, there may not have been enough time for an employee to be notified and clean up the glass. On the other hand, if a patron vomits at the entryway to a store and it sits there for an hour just waiting for someone else to walk in and slip on it, that is carelessness on the part of the property owner or their employees.
Just because somebody falls down someplace, even when there was clearly something wrong with the property, does not mean that they ‘have a case’. Hopefully, no one got hurt. But in order to bring a claim against the property owner, there needs to be an injury present with medical treatment and so forth. You cannot hold a property owner responsible based on principle or because you are angry or embarrassed that you fell.
The injury that you suffered has to be the result of the defect or dangerous condition. A floor may have been in bad need of repairs but if you got hurt because your shoelace came untied and caused you to trip, then the property owner is not responsible.
What should I do if I fall down or slip at a place of business?
As with any accident or injury, your physical well being is number one. Do not be embarrassed, you shouldn’t be. Falls can happen to anyone. If you need help, ask for it. If you need medical care, get it. Report the injury to the business owner or their employees as soon as it happens, but do not allow yourself to be interrogated. If you are dizzy or otherwise unwell, this is probably not the time to answer a lot of questions. Provide your contact information and accept offers of physical assistance at the scene, but do not start to place blame, get upset, or go into too many details about what happened. If you feel up to it, collect the names and phone numbers of anyone who might have seen what happened or give them your information to get in touch. If somebody was with you, maybe that person helped to get contact information for witnesses.
If you fell down and believe that it was the fault of the property owner, or maybe aren’t sure, give us a call and we can help you determine if your injury might be worth pursuing against the property owner. The insurance company or perhaps the property owner themself will be in a very big hurry to talk to you, to protect themselves. Do not speak to them, do not sign anything, and do not make any decisions until you have had a chance to speak to an attorney and get checked out by your doctor. Call us at 630 250-8813 before you are caught off guard.