What Qualifies as a Slip, Trip and Fall Accident?
Slip, trip, and fall accidents injure more people every year than all other unintentional injuries, second only to motor vehicle accidents. Slip and falls result in more than one million emergency room visits every year. It is up to a property owner to detect slip, trip, and fall hazards and repair them before an accident occurs. If you recently fell and injured yourself in a grocery store, shopping mall, parking lot, construction zone, or other location, find out if you have the right to compensation.
Elements of a Slip and Fall Lawsuit
The main element an injured party needs to have grounds for a slip and fall case is proof of negligence. Someone must have been negligent in causing or contributing to the accident. For example, the property owner must have breached his or her duty of care by ignoring trip and fall hazards. The hazard that caused the fall must have presented an unreasonable safety hazard to visitors. In other words, a reasonable and prudent property owner could have foreseen someone tripping and falling over the hazard.
To collect proof of negligence, the fall victim should gather as much information about the accident as possible. If you fall and hurt yourself on someone else’s property, collect the names and phone numbers of anyone who witnessed the accident. Take a photo of the object or condition that made you slip or trip. Report the accident to a supervisor or manager on the property, if possible. Write down as many details as you can about what happened – where you were walking, what you were doing, how you fell, how the staff member responded, etc.
If you contact an attorney and he or she believes you have grounds to file a personal injury claim against the owner or possessor of the property, you will work with the lawyer to establish that the store, business, or property owner was negligent, and that this negligence caused your accident. Note that simply falling down and getting hurt does not give you grounds to file a lawsuit. There must be an unsafe condition and proof that the person responsible knew or reasonably should have known about the condition, yet did nothing to prevent a fall.
Issues to Consider in a Slip and Fall Claim
Potential defendants, or parties liable for a slip, trip, and fall, can include the storeowner, the actual owner of the property (if the storeowner leases the building), or a third party. If you trip over a cracked sidewalk in downtown Phoenix, for example, the city may be liable for failing to maintain the walking surface. An attorney can help you determine the defendant(s) and file the correct paperwork to start your claim.
In the event of a slip and fall, the question of why you slipped is integral. You must determine the cause of the slippery floor before you leave the premises, and report what caused your slip to a store manager. You may have slipped on water, floor wax, oil or grease, a spilled beverage, or a foreign object like food debris. After you slip, try to figure out why the floor was slippery, how long the substance had been on the floor, and if the property owner had a slippery floor warning sign. For more information about your specific case, talk to a lawyer.