Slip and Fall Accidents: Who is Responsible?

slip and fall accidents who is responsible

When someone is injured as a result of a slip and fall accident-whether it happens on private property, such as a neighbor's home, or public property, such as a public park-the property owner may be legally responsible for the accident and resulting injuries.

Was the property owner negligent?

Usually, slip and fall cases are determined based on a theory of negligence. Negligence is a legal theory which, broadly speaking, says that people are required to act with care. People who act carelessly may be found negligent, and if that negligence causes an injury to another person, the careless individual may be held legally responsible for the injured person's damages that result from the negligence.

A property owner is required to maintain their property, and has a duty to people entering the property to make the property reasonably safe. In a slip and fall case, negligence will usually be based on whether the property owner caused the condition that resulted in the fall, or whether the property owner knew or should have known of the condition and failed to remedy it or warn people of it. 

Was the injured person negligent?

The injured person's level of care is also taken into consideration in a negligence case. The injured person in a slip and fall case is required to act carefully and to see and act as an ordinary person would in the same circumstances. For example, a property owner who has allowed a pothole to form in its parking lot may be considered negligent. However, if most people would have seen and then avoided the pothole, a person who trips in the pothole and gets injured may also be found to be negligent for failing to see the pothole and avoid it. This is called "contributory negligence" on the part of the injured person.

Did the parties act reasonably?

In deciding negligence cases, the court will focus on whether the actions of the parties were "reasonable" under the circumstances. For example, if it was dark at the time the accident happened, it might not have been reasonable to expect someone to see a defective condition, such as a pothole, that might be easily seen during the day. And if a supermarket patron slips on a wet floor immediately after another shopper spilled water, it would likely not be reasonable to hold the supermarket responsible if they did not have enough time to learn of the spill and clean it up or warn others about it.

If both parties are negligent, does the injured person still have a case?

Each state has different rules about how the negligence of each of the parties - the property owner and the injured person - affects the ability for the injured person to recover damages.

In some states, if any contributory negligence is found, the injured person is prevented from receiving any damages from the property owner, even if the property owner was also negligent. In other states, the injured person is only be prevented from receiving damages if he or she is found to be more than 50% responsible for the accident.
In still other states, the injured party is able to recover the percentage of damages equal to the percentage of fault assessed to the property owner, regardless of how much the injured person is found to be at fault. For example, if the injured person is found to be 70% at fault for the accident and the property owner is found to be only 30% at fault for the accident, the injured person would be able to recover 30% of their damages from the property owner.

If you have been injured in a slip and fall accident, there are steps you should take soon after the accident to preserve and evaluate your claim. Find a personal injury attorney on our site who can advise you about whether you have a case and help you make a claim against the property owner or other responsible party if warranted.

Do You Need An Attorney?

If so, post a short summary of your legal needs to our site and let attorneys submit applications to fulfill those needs. No time wasted, no hassle, no confusion, no cost.

Posted - 02/15/2018