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A Slip & Fall is an injury which occurs when someone slips, trips or falls as a result of a dangerous or hazardous condition through the negligence of a property owner.
When an individual slips & falls on someone else’s property and is injured as a result of a dangerous condition on the property, the land owner or business proprietor may find himself legally responsible and may be liable for the injuries.
Property owners are responsible for injuries that occur as a result of a dangerous or hazardous condition on their property, which the owner knew about, or should have known about.
Dangerous & hazardous conditions may cause slips and falls due to accumulation of water, ice or snow, liquids, as well as abrupt changes in flooring, raised or cracked sidewalks, poor lighting, or a hidden hazard, such as a hidden ground hole.
- A dangerous or hazardous condition may be apparent such as a broken step or railing in a staircase, or it may be hidden such as ground hole that is overgrown with grass.
- A dangerous and hazardous condition may be permanent such as a 2 inch raised area of a sidewalk creating a change in elevation, or it may be a temporary spill of liquid in the aisle of a grocery store.
- A dangerous and hazardous condition may even appear to be something normal but be in reality is a slippery situation.
The owner or manager of property can be liable to somebody injured on their property, but not under all circumstances. The owner or the manager of the property has to be negligent in the conduct of caring for or managing their property.
For example: Someone could fall down because a light burned out in a staircase; however, if the light had burned out just before the person got to that staircase and the person fell down, in this situation, the property owner or manager probably would not be liable because the owner or manager of the property did not cause the defect in the property, and the defect did not last long enough for the owner or manager of the property to know about the defect and fix it.
Another circumstance where a property owner might not be liable is if the defect is a trivial defect. If there is a defect in a raised sidewalk of 1/4 inch, where someone fell, then there is no liability. The sidewalk must be raised more than 2 inches, and it must be proved that the person injured, tripped on the raised sidewalk.
In general, a property owner will be considered to have knowledge of a dangerous or hazardous condition if it is permanent in nature. When a dangerous or hazardous condition is permanent in nature, the owner would have known, or should have known, about the condition before the slip and fall accident occurs.
For example: If wet algae has accumulated on the sidewalk over a period of time due to leaking lawn sprinklers, it would have to be proved that the person responsible knew about, or should have known about the condition as it had been occurring over a period of time. An expert witness would be required to prove that algae overtime accumulates to this degree when water is leaking as in this situation.
In the case of temporary conditions such as a liquid spill, the length of time that the condition existed before the incident occurred has legal significance. If the spill occurred just before the incident, then the property owner may not be liable for injury, since the owner could not have known about the spill (and would not have been able to do anything about it) before the slip and fall occurred.
For example: In a supermarket aisle another customer spills something immediately before the person falls down. In this case the owner of the store did not have enough time to find the spilled material and clean it up.
If the owner did not directly cause the spill and someone else caused the spill, the spill would had to have been on the property for a long enough period of time for the owner to be able to know about it and to be able to clean it up.
Knowledge of dangerous or hazardous condition example:
- If the spill was present for some period of time before the incident,
- or occurs in an area subject to liquid spills, such as near the fresh flowers or fresh produce aisle in the supermarket where the produce or flowers are constantly automatically watered
- is a recurring event -whenever the aisles are mopped the floor becomes slippery-then the owner may be liable, even if the owner did not know about the spill before it occurred.
The Law Offices of James S. Hong have been handling personal injury and wrongful death cases exclusively since 1989.
The other issue that often daunts many people who are considering pursuing a lawsuit is the often exorbitant costs that accompany it. There are fees, costs for stenographers and private investigators, and the total price tag can easily reach the tens of thousands. That is why, when you are looking for the right slip and fall lawyer, you should consider the resources that a larger, more established law firm like us.
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