|Robert Alan Saasto, Esq.||
16 East Old Country Road
Hicksville, NY 11801
Tel: 631.223.1780 | Fax: 631.223.1701
Slip and Fall
Slip and fall
is a term for personal injury cases which arise when
injury is caused when a person slips and falls as a result of a
dangerous or hazardous condition on someone else's property.
Inside a building, dangerous conditions such as torn carpeting, abrupt
changes in flooring, poor lighting, narrow stairs, or a wet floor can
cause you to slip and hurt yourself.
Outside a building, you may slip and fall because of rain, ice, snow or
a hidden hazard, such as a gap or hard to see pothole in the ground.
Slip and fall accidents can occur on commercial, residential or public
property. Regardless of where they happen, all property or building
owners have a certain level of responsibility (duty of care) to make
sure an environment is safe. Slip and fall accidents are the most common
type of "premises liability" cases, which center on the question of a
property owner's duty to care for the property. Injury by fire or other
accidents resulting from defects in the conditions of buildings also
fall under this category.
Slip and fall cases are governed under negligence law. To win a premises
liability claim, an injured victim has to prove either that the
defendant created the hazard that led to the accident or that the
defendant knew or should have known about the danger and had it removed
or repaired. This can often be difficult to prove, since proving when a
given hazard first appeared can be challenging. Example: If you slip and
fall on a banana in a grocery store, absent some evidence of when the
banana first fell onto the floor, it may be difficult to prove that the
store "knew or should have known" about the dangerous condition. If the
banana fell onto the floor ten seconds before you arrived, then the
store most likely could not have known about it.
Since Plaintiff’s have the burden of proof, proving when the hazard
first appeared and that the store should have known about the hazard
presents problems in certain cases.
Structural damages to a building, often due to age or wear and tear, can
be a significant cause of injury. Uneven steps, parking lot potholes,
cracked sidewalks, broken tiles, or torn carpeting can create dangerous
situations for visitors to a building. As noted earlier, to prove
negligence, we will have to prove that the property owner knew or should
have known about the problem and failed to repair it. Occasionally,
negligence can be proven by violation of a statute. Building owners must
ensure that the building's structure is in compliance with applicable
building codes. For example, handrails and other similar structures
typically must be installed at a certain general height. If you fall on
a stairway that lacked appropriate handrails, and the lack thereof
caused your injuries, you may have a valid claim against the building
owner for violating building codes.
Weather-related slip and fall accidents are difficult cases for injured plaintiffs. Landowners are generally expected to take reasonable steps to reduce hazards created by adverse weather. This can include, but is not limited to, shoveling snow, salting or sanding icy and slippery spots, and installing anti-slip devices on outdoor steps. As with other cases, if the landowner has no reasonable opportunity to correct the problem, as where a flash flood has created a hazard, the landowner will not held liable for injuries caused by the hazard.
In slip and fall cases, as with all other negligence claims, comparative negligence applies. As a guest on someone else’s property, you are expected to exercise reasonable judgment and caution. Example: You fall while walking down the stairs at a hotel, sustaining serious injuries. A jury finds that the property owner had been warned about the trouble spot weeks ago and failed to correct it, however, the jury also finds that you were reading the newspaper while you walked down the stairs and your inattention contributed to causing the accident. If the jury finds you 49 percent at fault and the defendant 51 percent at fault, the defendant would have to pay you only one half of the total damages found to be incurred by you.