Everyone slips or trips once in awhile. Doing so is an extremely common accident, especially if the floor or ground is wet or otherwise slippery. It is a normal part of life for things to fall or to drip on the floor or ground, and some things placed on the ground, such as a drainage grate, for example, serve a useful purpose.
The owner or occupant of property cannot always be held responsible for failing to immediately pick up or clean up every slippery substance on the floor or ground. Nor is the property owner always responsible for someone slipping or tripping on something which an ordinary person would expect to find there or should see and avoid. We all have an obligation to watch where we are going. However, in some cases, he or she is at fault.
In slip or trip and fall cases, there is no precise way to determine whether the owner or occupier of property is legally responsible for something on which an injured person slips or trips. Each case turns on whether the owner acted carefully so that slipping or tripping was not likely to happen and whether the person who fell was careless in not seeing or avoiding the thing he or she fell on.
To be legally responsible for the injuries one suffers from tripping or slipping, the owner of the premises or the owner’s employee must have caused the spill, worn or torn spot or other slippery or dangerous surface or item to be underfoot or must have known or should have known that the dangerous material or object was underfoot but did nothing about it. An owner or the owner’s employee may also be liable for an injured person tripping or slipping if a reasonable person taking proper care of the property would have known or discovered the dangerous material on the floor or ground and would have removed or repaired it but the owner or employee chooses to act unreasonably and to do nothing.
People who work at, live on and visit property drop and spill things from time to time and they do not always pick up after themselves. As a result, floors become torn, worn or slippery and ground can become loose, broken or uneven. The person who is responsible for the property must make some regular effort to check the walking safety of the premises and to do some repair and clean up with safety in mind. On the other hand, the law does not require a premises owner to stand by round clock to repair and clean up instantly anything that is broken, dropped or spilled. The law concentrates on the reasonableness of clean up and repair efforts; therefore, someone who takes regular and thorough efforts to keep his property safe and clean is less likely to be found liable than an owner who completely neglects the premises.
If you have slipped or tripped over something and fallen, there are some initial questions you can ask to determine whether the property owner may be liable. If you tripped over a torn, broken or bulging area of carpet, floor or ground or slipped on a wet or loose area, had the dangerous spot been there long enough so that the owner should have known about it? If you tripped over or slipped on an object that someone had placed or left on the floor or ground, was there a legitimate reason for the object to be there? If there once had been a good reason for the object to be there but that reason no longer exists, could the object have been removed, covered, or otherwise made safe? Was there a safer place the object could have been located or placed in a safer manner without much greater inconvenience or expense to the property owner or operator? Could a simple barrier have been created or warning given to prevent people from slipping or tripping? Did insufficient or broken lighting contribute to the accident? An experienced and competent attorney will investigate your case and ensure that your right to fair and adequate compensation for your injury and your losses is protected.