Slip & Fall Frequently Asked Questions

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Slip & Fall Frequently Asked Questions

Slip & Fall Frequently Asked QuestionsSlip and fall accidents do not get the same attention in the media as car accidents or even medical malpractice. But more emergency room visits result from falls than any other accident.

Slip and fall accidents can happen anywhere — at a local business, in a parking lot, even in an amusement park. But the same legal principles govern all of these slip and fall accidents.

Here are some frequently asked questions about slip and fall accidents, along with their answers.

What If I Tripped Instead of Slipped?

Owners and occupiers of premises in New York must keep their premises reasonably free of hazards. Whether you slip or trip, you have the same legal rights.

Slips happen when your feet lose traction and slide forward. You fall backward, with your hips, back, and head prone and likely to strike the ground. 

Slipping hazards include:

  • Ice or water
  • Liquid spills
  • Gravel or other debris

Trips happen when you lose your footing. Your forward momentum causes you to fall forward. You can strike your knees, chest, face, hands, or arms on the ground. 

Tripping hazards include:

  • Raised thresholds
  • Loose carpet
  • Broken or uneven pavement
  • Potholes
  • Unmarked stairs

Regardless of how you fall, you will need to prove the same elements to win your case.

What Do I Need to Prove to Win a Slip and Fall Case?

Slip and fall cases arise from premises liability law. Premises liability law is based on negligence.

Negligence happens when someone fails to act in an objectively reasonable manner. As a result of their failure to uphold the reasonable standard of care, someone else got injured.

Under negligence law, the person or business who has control over the premises must exercise reasonable care in protecting the safety of the guests and other invitees on the premises. 

This simple statement of the law requires you to prove four elements to win a slip and fall case:

Duty

Owners and occupiers of premises owe a duty to invitees. Examples of invitees include:

  • Guests
  • Customers
  • Clients
  • Members of the public (if the premises are open to the public)

The owner or occupier does not need to specifically invite you into the premises. Buying a ticket would suffice for premises that require an admission ticket. If the premises are open to the public, invitees include all members of the public.

Owners and occupiers do not owe a duty to everyone. Trespassers cannot file a claim for a slip and fall injury. Likewise, if the owner or occupier asked you to leave the property, you probably cannot pursue a slip and fall claim.

This also tells you where your injury must happen to file a claim. You probably cannot pursue an injury claim if you entered an area marked “employees only.”

Breach

The duty owed by owners and occupiers of premises includes reasonable measures to:

  • Identify hazards
  • Investigate signs or reports of hazards
  • Warn invitees of hazards
  • Fix hazards

A jury measures “reasonableness” based on the actions that a reasonably prudent person would do under the same circumstances. If an owner or occupier failed to take the actions reasonably expected under the circumstances, the owner or occupier breached their duty of care.

Under the “reasonably prudent person” standard, the owner or occupier does not automatically become liable for every slip and fall accident. Instead, they get the same leeway that any reasonable person might get.

For example, if you slipped on a spill right after another customer dropped their drink, the restaurant probably lacked a reasonable amount of time to clean it up. But if you slipped in a puddle that another customer had warned the manager about, the shop might have breached its duty to you.

Causation

The breach of duty must have caused your injuries. Causation has two parts.

The cause-in-fact means that the breach fell within the chain of events that led to your injury. Thus, a movie theater’s failure to repair torn carpet led to you falling in the darkened auditorium.

The proximate cause means that an injury was a reasonably foreseeable result of the breach. This does not mean that the owner or occupier must have foreseen your specific injury. Instead, it means that the hazard must have been of the type that could reasonably cause an injury.

Damages

If you suffered an injury, you have damages. Your damages include your medical expenses and lost income. Damages can also include the diminishment in your quality of life caused by pain and suffering.

Who Do I Pursue in a Slip and Fall Case?

Under premises liability law, you can pursue a claim against any person or business that negligently allows a hazard on their property to injure you. In most cases, you will proceed with a claim against whoever had control over the premises.

If the space was leased, you usually proceed against the tenant. For example, if you slip and fall in a store inside a shopping center, you usually sue the store tenant rather than the shopping center landlord. If the hazard falls within the landlord’s area of responsibility, you can proceed against the landlord.

Homeowners can also have liability for slip and fall accidents. If you slip and fall on someone’s icy walkway, you might have a cause of action against the homeowner.

In most cases, these claims ultimately fall on the property’s insurer. A claim against a business will usually go to the company’s property or business liability insurance company. 

You will usually file a claim against a homeowner with the insurance company that issued the homeowner’s insurance policy.

What Can I Get for a Slip and Fall Case?

There are two basic kinds of damages: economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages include all of the ways that your injury harmed you financially. They may account for:

  • Medical bills
  • Lost income
  • Diminished earning capacity

Your damages include your past and future economic losses. If you suffer a permanent disability, your damages will cover your lifetime of medical bills and lost income.

Non-economic damages compensate you for all of the ways your injury diminished your quality of life. Some examples include:

  • Physical pain
  • Mental suffering
  • Inconvenience
  • Loss of activities

Thus, if you experience sleeping problems and can no longer exercise due to your pain, you can seek non-economic damages for these harms.

To discuss the damages you can seek for your slip and fall accident, contact the Law Offices of Jay S. Knispel, LLC for a free consultation.

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