Slip and fall lawsuits are one of the most common lawsuits involving personal injuries. For starters, they can happen in many different places due to many conditions. During the winter months, children and pedestrians alike often slip and fall due to icy sidewalks or pathways. Negligent maintenance at a grocery store can result in shoppers slipping and falling in an aisle. On the other hands, incidents of slip and falls are fairly cut-and-dry regarding culpability — fault usually falls on whoever owns or is responsible for the facility or property.
When the location where the slip and fall took place is located on an owner’s property or premises, and he or she neglected to take necessary precautions to repair a problem that caused the incident, the owner or possessor of the property can often be held liable for the accident and the resulting injuries.
It can sometimes be hard to prove who is at fault — or liability — for slip and fall accidents. Every year, thousands are injured, sometimes seriously, after slipping and falling on a floor, stairway, or another surface that is slippery or in a hazardous condition. Even ground that is uneven or dangerous in some way can result in serious injuries. Even in these cases, it can sometimes be hard to prove the owner of the property is liable for a slip and fall accident.
Could the Property Owner Have Prevented the Incident?
When you or someone close to you has been harmed after a slip and fall, you will probably want to try and bring the at-fault party to justice through filing a lawsuit as soon as you are able to do so. However, you need to stop and ask yourself one quick question: If the owner of the property had acted with greater care, could the accident have been prevented entirely?
For instance, in the case that a leaky roof results in the floor becoming slippery which causes you to fall, the owner of the property may not be liable for sustained injuries if a drainage grate was in place and was meant to prevent the hazardous condition. Also, the owner of a property will not likely be liable for something that a reasonable person would not have done, like tripping over something that is likely to be found on the property — such as a snow shovel in the walkway during winter. Everyone — including the injured party — has a responsibility to be aware of their immediate environment and attempt to avoid hazardous conditions.
Moreso, those in charge of property have a duty of care to make sure that swimming pools, and trampolines, and similar things are safe for others. For example, swimming pools should be adequately covered or protected by a fence to prevent children from using them when there is no one around to supervise.
Property Owner’s Obligation to Maintain Reasonably Safe Conditions
However, this does not exactly mean that the owner of a property can never be held liable for sustained injuries of others who have slipped and fell on their property. Property owners are required to take reasonable measures to maintain that the property is free of hazardous conditions that could result in someone being injured in a slip in fall, even if it is not exactly a straightforward rule. This “reasonableness” must be taken into consideration along with the care that the person who was injured should have also used.
Now we are going to discuss some common conditions that can cause a slip and fall accident outdoors, and the specific rules concerning property owners duties in these conditions.
Ice or Snow Outside a Building
In general, the law doesn’t mandate that property owners remove ice snow that gathers around his or her building due to the weather, but if conditions on the property result in an unreasonable amount of ice or snow, the property owner could be held responsible for a slip and fall accident. This could include when:
- Ice gathers on the roof, then melts and drips off due to a clogged drain, refreezing on the ground; and
- The sloping surface of a parking lot results in melting ice to form puddles, refreezing into patches of ice.
Even more, if the possessor of a property chooses to provide ice or snow removal, he should not do so carelessly.
Dim Outdoor Lighting
Insufficient lighting could also result in accidents involving slip and falls in locations such as parking lots, tripping over curbs, falls on a step or stairs leading from a parking lot to a storefront, and trips and falls because of holes, cracks, or uneven surfaces. The owner of the property could be held responsible if he or she had prior knowledge or should have known of dim lighting and neglected to correct the hazard.
The owner of a parking lot is responsible for maintaining the area in order to ensure that it is reasonably safe for those who will be using it. This could include filling and patching cracks or holes. Also, height differences from one section to another in the parking lot should be gradual and not abrupt in order to prevent others from tripping or being injured in a slip and fall.
In most cases, the owner of a property is not responsible for injuries that happen on a public sidewalk that is located near his or her property. These are owned and maintained by the municipality or township. However, certain courts may view a business responsible for injuries sustained in a slip and fall on a sidewalk when it is used almost exclusively by customers that frequent the business. Property owners will be liable for dangers conditions that exist on their private walkways.
Utah Slip & Fall Accidents
Nearly 30 percent of people who are injured in slip and falls sustain severe injuries. Victims of these accidents should protect their legal rights by contacting a Utah slip and fall attorney immediately after being injured.
For 30 years, Siegfried & Jensen has helped victims recover from slip and falls by regaining settlements worth of their damages. Call us today at 801-845-9000 if you or a loved one has been injured in a slip and fall.