Who Is Liable in a Slip and Fall Accident?

Who Is Liable in a Slip and Fall Accident

Slip and fall accidents rank among the most common property accidents. When you slip and fall on another party’s premises, you must know who you can hold liable for the accident and your injuries to recover compensation for your financial and personal losses.

Slip and fall accidents can give rise to premises liability and negligence claims against property or business owners, management companies, or third-party contractors.

However, showing that a property owner caused your accident by breaching a duty of care can prove tricky. An experienced slip and fall accident attorney can guide you through the claims process and advocate for your right to compensation and accountability for your injuries.

The Basics of Slip and Fall Accidents

A slip and fall accident occurs when a person loses their footing due to a hazard on the ground that causes them to slip or trip. Slip and fall claims fall into the premises liability case category since the owner of the property where a slip and fall occurred may bear responsibility for the accident and the injuries suffered by the person who fell.

Some of the most common causes of slip and fall accidents include:

  • Spilled foods or liquids on the floor
  • Water or other liquid leaks
  • Rainwater, mud, or plant debris
  • Uneven floors
  • Broken or loose tiles or hardwood flooring
  • Loose or torn rugs or carpets
  • Wires or cords across walkways
  • Trash or debris on the ground
  • Potholes or broken pavement
  • Broken or missing stairs or handrails

According to the National Floor Safety Institute, slip and fall accidents result in approximately one million hospital visits annually. One out of every three people 65 and older will experience a fall. Half of all fall victims over 65 have fallen before.

Slip and fall accidents can cause more severe injuries than cuts and bruises.

Depending on the circumstances of a fall accident, a person can sustain injuries such as:

  • Broken bones, including hip fractures
  • Nerve damage
  • Ligament sprains/tears
  • Muscle or tendon strains/tears
  • Severe lacerations or abrasions
  • Herniated spinal disc injuries
  • Internal injuries, bleeding, and bruising
  • Traumatic brain injuries

Slip and fall accidents typically occur in public places that have numerous visitors.

Common locations for slips and falls include:

  • Grocery stores and supermarkets
  • Bars, clubs, and restaurants
  • Theaters
  • Home improvement stores
  • Department stores
  • Malls and shopping centers
  • Parking lots/garages
  • Office buildings
  • Apartment buildings and townhouse complexes
  • Gyms/fitness facilities
  • Sports facilities
  • Recreational parks/playgrounds
  • Swimming pools
  • Hospitals
  • Schools
  • Public/government buildings

Understanding Premises Liability

A slip and fall accident can give rise to a premises liability claim. Premises liability claims involve injuries caused by hazardous property conditions that a property owner or other responsible party creates or allows to exist due to negligent maintenance.

A slip and fall accident victim must prove that the accident occurred due to the negligence of the property owner or other parties responsible for the property’s condition. Proving negligence requires establishing that a property owner owed a duty of care to the visitor injured in a slip and fall accident.

The specifics of the duty of care will depend on:

  • The location of the property
  • The likelihood of visitors like the injured slip and victim
  • The likelihood of injury and the potential severity of such injuries
  • Whether the owner knew or should have known about the hazardous condition that caused the slip and fall
  • The extent of the owner’s control over the hazardous condition
  • The burden of eliminating or reducing the risk of a slip and fall

Premises liability claims, including slip and fall cases, can extend to various kinds of property, including private residences, business/commercial establishments, and public spaces.

Ultimately, premises liability law imposes a duty for property owners or occupiers to maintain safe premises for others who enter the property.

In California, the statute of limitations allows a slip and fall accident victim to file a lawsuit against a property or business owner within two years of the accident. Filing a lawsuit after this deadline expires risks losing the right to pursue financial recovery from the negligent party or parties responsible for injuries and losses incurred on the property.

Potentially Liable Parties in a Slip and Fall Accident Case

In most cases, a property owner will bear liability for injuries and losses suffered by a slip and fall accident victim. However, depending on the circumstances, other parties may also have responsibility for an accident. Other potentially liable parties in slip and fall cases include:

Residential Tenants

When a slip and fall occurs inside a residential tenant’s leased premises, the tenant, rather than their landlord, may bear liability for a visitor’s injuries when a slip and fall occurs due to a hazardous condition caused by the tenant or the tenant’s lack of maintenance.

Commercial Tenants/Businesses

Many businesses or commercial establishments lease their premises from a property owner. However, commercial leases usually make the business exclusively responsible for maintenance and repairs to the leased premises. As a result, businesses will typically bear liability for slip and fall accidents in their establishments.

Property Management Companies

Large residential or commercial properties may have property management companies responsible for maintenance and repairs. These companies may bear liability for tenants or visitors who suffer slip and fall accidents due to hazards the property management company should have repaired or removed.

Third-Party Property Maintenance/Landscaping Companies

Property owners or management companies may contract third-party maintenance or landscaping companies to handle regular maintenance or repair requests. These third-party contractors may bear liability for a slip and fall caused by their negligent work.

Government Entities

When a slip and fall accident occurs in a public space, such as a government office building, public school, library, or public recreational facility, the government may have liability for a fall victim’s injuries.

However, filing an injury claim against the government has unique requirements, including the obligation to provide the appropriate agency or department with a notice of the claim within six months of the slip and fall.

Financial Recovery Available After a Slip and Fall

Property or business owners or property managers who bear responsibility for a slip and fall accident may have liability to compensate an injured party for financial and personal losses they’ve suffered, including for:

  • Medical treatment and rehabilitation costs, including ambulance transportation, emergency room care, hospitalization, surgeries, medications/pain management care, or physical/occupational therapy
  • Costs of long-term care and support services for disabilities or impairments caused by slip and fall injuries, including home health services or purchases of medical/mobility equipment
  • Ongoing and future losses of income and employment benefits due to temporary or permanent disability from one’s pre-accident job or other kinds of work
  • Physical pain and anguish from slip and fall injuries and subsequent treatments
  • Emotional trauma and distress from the accident and resulting injuries and disabilities that interfere with daily life or activities

How Do You Prove Liability for a Slip and Fall

Proving that a property owner or manager bears liability for a slip and fall accident may require you to obtain evidence that proves the accident occurred because of the owner’s or manager’s negligence.

Common evidence used in slip and fall cases includes:

  • Accident scene photos and videos
  • Surveillance camera footage
  • Maintenance/repair records
  • Staffing records
  • Inspection/maintenance policies
  • Eyewitness testimony
  • Accident/incident reports written after the slip and fall
  • Weather records from the date of the accident
  • Copies of lease agreements or property management/maintenance contracts
  • Accident reconstruction or engineering expert reports and testimony

Common Defenses to Liability in Slip and Fall Cases

Even though a slip and fall accident may have occurred due to a hazardous property condition, property owners or managers may have defenses to a slip and fall claim.

Property owners frequently claim that they had no knowledge or notice of the hazard that caused the slip and fall or that they learned about the hazard too late to have sufficient opportunity to remedy the situation before the slip and fall occurred.

Many slip and fall accident claims hinge on proving that the property owner knew about a slipping or tripping hazard or that the hazard existed long enough that the owner should have discovered it through reasonable inspection efforts.

Property owners may also argue that the injured party slipped and fell on an open, obvious hazard, such as a wet floor with a warning sign or broken/missing pavement on a walkway. The owner may assert that a reasonable person would have noticed the hazard and either walked around it or exercised caution when trying to walk across the hazard.

What Steps Should You Take After Suffering a Slip and Fall?

After getting hurt in a slip and fall accident, you have steps you can take that can preserve your legal options for pursuing financial recovery for your injuries and losses.

Things you can do to put yourself in a favorable position to succeed in a slip and fall claim include:

  • Report the accident to the property owner or manager. Ask them to preserve any surveillance footage of the fall or the area around where the fall occurred. Remember to request a copy of any accident/incident report written after you’ve reported the fall.
  • Seek medical attention to diagnose your injuries and follow your doctor’s treatment plan and recovery instructions. Do not put off recommended procedures or rehabilitation since you can aggravate your injuries and jeopardize your financial recovery.
  • Preserve or photograph your clothing and footwear from the accident.
  • Gather any evidence you may have from the accident, such as accident scene photos you took or the contact information for any eyewitnesses.
  • Keep all bills, invoices, and receipts of expenses you incur due to your injuries. Find copies of your pay stubs/income statements to help calculate your lost income if you miss time from work or earn reduced income due to your injuries.

Finally, contact a slip and fall accident lawyer as soon as possible to start investigating and preparing your claims.

How a Lawyer Can Help You With a Slip and Fall Claim

Property and business owners and insurance companies will fight to defend themselves against slip and fall claims. When you’ve gotten hurt in a slip and fall on someone else’s property, you need experienced legal counsel to level the playing field and to stand up for your rights and interests.

An attorney can assist you with pursuing financial recovery and accountability for injuries and losses you suffered in a slip and fall accident by:

  • Investigating the accident to recover evidence that helps prove the property owner’s or other responsible parties’ liability for the accident and your injuries
  • Evaluating your options for recovering compensation, including confirming the property or business owner’s liability insurance coverage
  • Calculating your past, ongoing, and future expenses and personal losses to determine what fair financial recovery might look like in your case
  • Filing your insurance or legal claims and dealing with business representatives, insurance adjusters, and defense lawyers on your behalf so you can focus on your medical recovery
  • Vigorously negotiating for a fair and full settlement of your slip and fall accident claim or advocating your case in court and at trial when litigation becomes necessary to demand a fair result

Contact an Experienced Slip and Fall Accident Attorney to Pursue Accountability From Those Responsible for Your Injuries and Losses

A slip and fall accident occurs when a person loses their footing and falls due to a dangerous condition on someone else’s property.

When that dangerous condition occurs due to a property or business owner’s negligence, the owner may bear liability for a slip and fall accident victim’s injuries and losses. However, depending on the circumstances of an accident, other parties may also bear responsibility for a slip and fall.

Mickey Fine, Bakersfield Slip and Fall Accident Lawyer

Mickey Fine, Bakersfield Slip and Fall Accident Attorney

Proving a party’s fault for a slip and fall requires showing that they breached the duty of care they owed to you.

Holding a property owner or other party responsible for a slip and fall can involve complex evidence and legal issues. Hiring a knowledgeable slip and fall accident attorney can give you the best chance to recover compensation for medical bills, lost earnings, and pain and suffering you incur from fall injuries.

Contact a personal injury lawyer in Bakersfield as soon as possible after an accident to ensure you can pursue your legal options for financial recovery.

Premises Liability
by Mickey Fine Law
Last updated on - Originally published on