Christy Bieber, J.D.
Adam Ramirez, J.D.
Updated: Sep 29, 2022, 7:03am
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Table of Contents
- Slip and Fall Lawsuit
- Negligence and Slip and Fall
- Examples of Conditions Leading to Slip and Fall
- Your Own Responsibility for the Accident
- Location of Slip and Fall Accident
- Statute of Limitations
- Filing a Slip and Fall Lawsuit
- Compensation for Slip and Fall Accidents
- Do You Need an Attorney for a Slip and Fall Case?
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
If you fall on someone’s property, you may be able to recover compensation by filing a slip and fall lawsuit. These types of claims arise under premises liability laws and you will need to prove a property owner was to blame.
This guide will help you understand your rights in a slip and fall case, as well as provide insight into the types of losses you can recover compensation for.
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Slip and Fall Lawsuit
Some eight million people visit hospital emergency rooms each year after a fall, per the National Flooring Safety Institute. Slip and falls make up 12% of total falls and independently account for a million ER visits.
Not every tumble can result in a slip and fall lawsuit, though. In order to successfully pursue a claim, you must demonstrate that the property owner or occupier should be held accountable for what happened to you. Generally, this means proving negligence.
Negligence and Slip and Fall
In order to win a slip and fall lawsuit, you will need to demonstrate that the property owner or occupier failed to fulfill their duty of care. Their irresponsible behavior must have created conditions that directly led to your fall and resulting injuries.
Owner vs. Occupier Negligence
Slip and fall cases can be complicated because sometimes the person who occupies the property is not the person who owns it. Therefore, you will need to understand which party had a responsibility to upkeep the space and what types of failures are considered negligent.
All property owners have a duty to maintain their premise. If they know of a hazard, or should be aware of one, and they do not fix it and/or provide appropriate warning, the property owner can be held responsible for resulting falls.
Occupiers also have an obligation to keep their premises reasonably safe. If they know, or should be aware of, a hazard in the space they are renting, they too must correct the problem and/or provide warning of the risk. If an occupier cannot fix the hazard themselves, they must promptly notify the property owner.
So, what if you are injured in a rented space? You generally would file a slip and fall lawsuit against the occupier if they failed to address the hazard. However, you may also have a claim against the property owner if:
- The property owner had maintained control (such as of a common area in an apartment)
- The property owner rented the property with hazards they failed to disclose
- The lease agreement specifies that the owner is responsible for certain repair and maintenance tasks which the owner failed to fulfill.
An experienced attorney can help you to determine who the best person is to pursue a case against when you are injured in a slip and fall.
Components of Negligence
Whether you are pursuing a claim against a property owner or occupier, you still must prove negligence in order to get compensation in a slip and fall lawsuit. And there are a few specific components of negligence you must demonstrate including:
- The property owner or occupier either caused the hazardous condition, had knowledge of it, or should have known of it if they exercised the level of care a reasonable person would have exhibited
- The property owner/occupier failed to correct the condition if there was a reasonable opportunity to do so and/or failed to warn of the hazard
- The owner/occupier’s failure was the direct cause of injury
- The injury caused harm
Photographs from the accident scene, expert testimony, and medical records can all help you to prove negligence in a slip and fall lawsuit.
Examples of Conditions Leading to Slip and Fall
Many types of hazardous conditions can result in a slip and fall including the following:
- Wet floors
- Uneven flooring
- Loose flooring material
- Bulging carpeting
- Unsalted icy areas
- Spill that aren’t cleaned up
- Debris or trash on the floor
- Cords in walkways
- Poor lighting
Property owners or occupiers should correct or warn of the dangers when these conditions develop. For example, if an employee of a store washes a floor, they should put up a “Wet Floor” sign to warn patrons.
Your Own Responsibility for the Accident
In some cases, you may share some responsibility for the fall. For example, if you walked around a wet floor sign, you made a decision that increased your chances of a fall occurring.
Whether your role affects your ability to file a slip and fall lawsuit or not depends on the specific circumstances, as well as the rules where you live.
In a small minority of states, contributory negligence rules apply. This means that if you play even a tiny part in causing your own injuries, you will not be able to recover compensation for your slip and fall.
In most parts of the United States, contributory negligence rules have been replaced by comparative negligence rules. If you live in a state with comparative negligence rules, you can potentially still pursue a claim even if you are partly to blame for your fall. However, you will receive less compensation.
In a pure comparative negligence state, you can successfully obtain compensation for a slip and fall no matter how much of the blame you share. Your compensation is simply reduced based on your percentage of fault. If you were 90% responsible for falling and suffered $10,000 in damage, the other party could be responsible for the remaining 10% of your damages and could be required to provide $1,000 in compensation.
In modified comparative negligence states, you are allowed to obtain compensation only if the other party is 50% or 51% responsible for your losses. Again, your compensation would still be reduced based on your percentage of fault.
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Location of Slip and Fall Accident
The location of a slip and fall accident can also affect your ability to file a slip and fall lawsuit. That’s because special rules apply to certain types of properties.
Slip and Fall on Government Property
If you slip and fall on a government property, you can pursue a case if you prove the government entity or employee was negligent in a way that led to your fall. However, there are different procedural requirements for pursuing a case. You must provide a formal notice of injury and there is a short deadline for doing so. You may also face a statutory limit on the amount of compensation you can receive.
Slip and Fall in Stores or Companies
Stores and companies invite people onto their property in order to do business with them. As a result, in some states they have a duty to make the premises safe for their customers. They must take steps to identify and fix hazards or they can be found negligent for failure to do so. This can mean a victim is able to successfully file a slip and fall lawsuit based on the store owner’s or store employee’s negligence.
Landlord Slip and Fall
If you are in a rented property and you slip and fall, there are times you could pursue a case against the landlord. However, you would need to prove the landlord was aware of and had a responsibility to correct the hazardous condition but negligently failed to do so.
If you slipped in a common area due to uneven tiles, or fell in your apartment because the floor was made slippery by a roof leak your landlord was supposed to correct but didn’t, then you may be able to successfully obtain compensation.
Statute of Limitations
If you wish to pursue a slip and fall lawsuit, you must do so in a timely manner. The statute of limitations prevents you from making a claim after too long a time has passed. The allowable time varies by state, but in general is between two and four years from the time of the fall-related injuries.
Filing a Slip and Fall Lawsuit
You can file a slip and fall lawsuit in court in the area where the fall took place. You also have the option to settle, which would involve negotiating with the party responsible for the fall (or, more likely, with their insurance company).
If you settle, you receive an agreed-upon payment without having to go to court. You must give up any future claims arising from the fall.
Compensation for Slip and Fall Accidents
Each slip and fall case has unique circumstances, so it is difficult to determine an average settlement. However, many cases settle for between $10,000 and $50,000. Claims involving fatal accidents result in much higher compensation, with surviving loved ones often receiving hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars in compensation.
Economic and Non-Economic Losses
When you pursue a slip and fall case, you should be compensated for both economic and non-economic losses. Damages can include payment for:
- Medical bills
- Past and future lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
How Much Your Slip and Fall Case is Worth
Many factors affect the amount your case is worth including:
- Whether you share responsibility for the fall, in which case compensation is reduced
- The severity of your injuries and whether they are permanent
- The cost of your medical bills
- Whether your injury prevents you from working
- How the insurer calculates pain and suffering
Some insurers estimate pain and suffering by taking a multiplier of actual economic damages. For example, you may be offered between 1.5 and 5 times the amount of your medical bills and lost wages. Others use a per diem approach, paying you a set amount (often a day’s wages) for the number of days your pain persists.
Slip and Fall and Homeowner’s Insurance
Homeowners insurance should provide coverage for slip and fall claims that occur on the insured owner’s property. Liability coverage pays for legal bills for homeowners as well as damages for victims. Insurance will pay only up to the policy limits, though. So if a homeowner has $50,000 in liability coverage, this is the maximum amount the insurer would pay. Fall victims could try to pursue a claim against the homeowner directly if they suffer greater losses.
Slip and Fall and Worker’s Compensation Insurance
If a slip and fall happens at work, employees cannot pursue a slip and fall lawsuit. Instead, they must make a worker’s compensation claim. State worker’s compensation rules determine the types of damages an injured worker can recover payment for. There is typically no need to prove negligence in worker’s comp cases as employers are almost always liable for covering losses from work-related injuries regardless of fault.
Find out more about other types of lawsuits with our defamation lawsuit guide.
Do You Need an Attorney for a Slip and Fall Case?
You should have an attorney for a slip and fall case. These types of cases can result in a substantial amount of compensation for injured victims and you want to get the full amount of money you deserve. Your slip and fall accident lawyer can help you negotiate a settlement or pursue a lawsuit within the statute of limitations.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Why are slip and fall cases hard to win?
Slip and fall lawsuits can sometimes be difficult to win because you must prove the property owner was negligent. This means showing they were aware of, or should have been aware of, the hazard that caused your fall and that their failure to fix the issue and/or warn you about it was the direct cause of your harm. An experienced attorney can help you meet this burden of proof and recover compensation.
How do you find a good slip and fall lawyer?
To find a good slip and fall lawyer, you can ask for referrals or visit your state’s Bar Association which should maintain a directory of attorneys practicing in this area. You should look for an attorney who has a long track record of successfully getting compensation for clients in slip and fall cases.
What is premises liability?
Premises liability is a body of law that governs injury claims that occur on someone else’s property. If you are hurt at a public or private building or on anyone else’s land, you can pursue a personal injury case governed by premises liability laws.
What if someone falls on my property?
If someone falls on your property, you could be liable for their injuries if the fall occurred as a direct result of your failure to identify and correct and/or warn about hazards. Your liability insurance should cover your legal costs and the damages you owe to the injured victim.
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