As anyone who has lived through a cold and snowy winter probably knows, sometimes even walking down a sidewalk can be a gamble. This is particularly obvious during the winter months when snow and ice can accumulate and create hazards, but slip-and-fall injuries can happen in any season.
Slip-and-fall injuries can range from mild to severe. One of the reasons people often try so intently to avoid them is because an incredibly severe and life-threatening injury can result for a small fall. Because of this potential, there are legal regulations in place to ensure that property owners maintain a safe, hazard-free environment.
There are many types of liability and slip-and-fall injuries will often fall under the category of premises liability. This applies to business and property owners in particular. If an individual is legally on another person’s property and a known, preventable hazard causes that individual to fall and become injured, it is possible that the property owner can be held liable for the damages. However, both parties have certain duties.
Duty of care
Property owners have what is known as duty of care. This means that they are required to be aware of hazards on their property and to address them. For example, if a business owner has a wet floor, their duty of care requires that they either dry it or find a method of alerting people to the potential hazard, e.g. a wet floor sign. Other common premises hazard include,
· Crack and/or holes in walkways
· Poor lighting
· Ice and snow
· Wet surfaces
· Structural damages
However, just as the property owners have duty of care, people on their property also have a duty.
As a general rule, people have a duty to act responsibly and to exercise a reasonable and appropriate amount of caution. If a person was on property owner’s land and they were injured because they were acting recklessly or irresponsibly, the land owner may not be held liable.
If, however, you are injured while legally on another person’s property because of a preventable hazard, you may have a claim. In such a situation, you should,
· Get appropriate medical attention
· Take pictures to document the scene
· Get the contact information of any witnesses
· Report the incident and its cause to the property owner or manager
· Get a copy of the official report
By doing all of these things, you are putting yourself in the position of making a strong claim for damages. Regardless, it is suggested that you seek out the services of an experienced legal professional. They will be able to work with you to get the justice you deserve.