In snowy climates, the risk of slipping on icy steps and sidewalks is an everyday part of life. Just because these accidents are common, however, does not mean they don’t have the potential to cause serious injuries. Each winter, thousands of people slip on dangerously icy and snowy walkways.
Accidents can also occur due to uneven sidewalks, poor lighting, and slippery pavement. In many cases, these injuries could have been avoided if the home or business owner had taken time to properly maintain his property or warn others about potential hazards.
In the legal sense, slip and fall accidents usually refer to a scenario in which an individual injures himself on another person’s property due to an unsafe condition. These cases are also grouped under the legal heading known as “premises liability.”
The Property Owner’s Negligence
Premises liability cases are handled under the legal theory that the property owner was negligent in some way. To prove “negligence”, the person who fell must show that the property owner owed visitors a duty of care and subsequently failed to live up to this duty. Additionally, the injured party must prove that he was indeed injured and that the owner’s breach of the duty of care caused the injuries. Together, all these elements make up negligence, which must be present for an injured party to recoup damages in a slip and fall case.
In general, the law imposes a “reasonable person” standard on property owners. This means that home and business owners must care for their property as a reasonable person would under the same circumstances. Because what is reasonable varies from person to person, New York courts consider previous cases to determine how property owners generally behave. Additionally, they examine standard business practices in the area. For example, if the majority of store owners in a shopping plaza salt their sidewalks in the winter, the court will most likely hold all property owners in the plaza to the same standard of care.
You don’t need subzero temperatures or snowstorms for a slip and fall accident to happen. These mishaps can occur in a variety of places in an array of conditions. Many people have fallen in grocery stores after workers cleaned a spill without sufficiently marking the area. Similarly, restaurant patrons have been injured after tripping over napkins, utensils, and food left on dining room floors. There have also been cases reported of people sustaining serious injuries after falling down uneven or defective stairs. Poorly maintained or installed sidewalks, such as ones with raised slabs or cracks, are also common causes of serious trip and fall injuries.
In all these scenarios, the property owner failed to properly repair or maintain a dangerous condition.
How Do You Know if You Have a Case?
There are several scenarios that lend themselves to a potential slip and fall or trip and fall claim. If the owner failed to maintain his property, you might have a case. Additionally, if the owner should have known about a dangerous condition and neglected to fix it before someone got hurt, you might be able to recover damages for your injury.
If you’ve been injured as a result of a slip and fall or a trip and fall on someone else’s property, consult with an experienced personal injury attorney who can evaluate your case and advise you of your options.