Slip and Fall Accidents
Property owners, businesses, or other commercial enterprises are responsible for providing safe environments for those lawfully on their premises. This responsibility may include routine property inspections, immediate repairs of any hazardous conditions, or placing warning signs for any hazards until they have been repaired. When an owner fails to ensure their property is reasonably safe, and a slip and fall accident occurs, the injured party may hold them liable for their injuries and damages incurred.
Any attorney that you are considering to handle a slip-and-fall case for you should have extensive experience handling these different types of incidents, because each will have unique aspects that must be adequately proven in order to resolve your case.
Here are a few tips in how to successfully pursue a slip and fall lawsuit. If you or a family member has been injured in this type of accident, please review these tips carefully - your case could depend on it.
From a legal standpoint, slip and fall injuries differ significantly from traffic accidents in an important manner: The conditions that caused a slip and fall injury can much more easily and quickly be "cleaned up" or "lost" than can the physical evidence resulting from a traffic incident. If you have been injured in a slip and fall accident, it is critical to gather and preserve evidence from the incident.Using Pictures as Evidence for a Slip and Fall Case
- Take pictures of location where you fell, especially the floor surface, as soon as possible to capture the condition at the time of your fall.
- If possible, take photographs of the condition of your clothing and shoes immediately following the accident.
- Take photographs of any mats, rugs, or slip prevention fabrics at the location, if the location of the accident had any of the above. If the location of the accident fails to have any of these fabrics or any other type, take photographs illustrating the potential lack of the safety items.
- Take photographs of any warning signs that might be in the area of the location of the accident.
- If you sustained a visible injury: i.e, bruise, cut, scrape or stitches, take photograph(s) of the injury to preserve the state of the injury at the time of the injury.
- Feel free to take as many photographs of what you think may be - no matter how trivial you might think it is. Your attorney will decide what is, and what is not important.
- Take the name, address and telephone number of any potential witness and save this information someplace where it will not be lost.
- Return to the accident scene, visit any nearby homes or business, if applicable, for any potential witness(es) to the accident.
- Revisit the scene of the accident several times at the same time at which the accident took place. Some people may have a habit of stopping or driving by the location of the accident as part of their normal day. You may able to find a witness.
- If you have obtained witness information, do not contact or speak to the witness(es) again or attempt to get any written statements from them. Let your attorney contact any possible witness(es).
- Most importantly, save the shoes that you were wearing at the time you slipped and fell. Place them inside a plastic garbage bag and tape it shut so that any materials stuck to the shoes will remain.
- Store all of the articles of clothing that you were wearing at the time of the accident in a plastic bag in a safe place where they will not be lost. Do not wash them.
- If possible, do not leave the scene of the accident without obtaining a copy of the accident report that the manager, owner, employee or other person has filled out while in your presence.
- If the item that you slipped on is non-perishable, save a sample in safe place where it will not be lost.
- If the item is perishable, i.e. vegetable, or fruit, try to preserve the item in a liquid chemical preservative or in a freezer.
A government study has shown that slip and fall incidents cause 15% of all accidental deaths, and are second only to motor vehicle accidents as a cause of accidental fatalities.
A variety of helpful information about preventing slip and fall injuries is available through the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration's website: Walking-Working Surfaces (SLIPS, TRIPS, AND FALLS)
In the wintertime, sidewalks that are snowy, icy, or wet present a particular danger for slip and fall injuries. An article describing the dangers and concerns of these conditions from the U.S. Department of Transportation can be read in [pdf] format here:
Ice, Snow, and Slippery Sidewalks.
Can a lawsuit be filed against the city if I trip and fall on a sidewalk?
Typically, the injured party needs to file suit against the city and the adjacent property owner as they both will point at each other as being responsible. Additionally, a Claim needs to be filed against the City (or County) and there is only a 180 day period in which to do so.
If I slip and fall on a stairway or steps which have been neglected can I file a lawsuit?
There are many issues to look at in a stairway fall. The height and width of the steps and risers, the condition of the wood, the handrails of lack thereof. An experienced attorney will have access to standards and experts that can determine if there is or is not a good solid case.
I'm Ed Smith, a Sacramento Slip and Fall Accident Attorney. If you or a loved one has been involved in a slip and fall accident and would like to discuss your legal options, call me at 916.921.6400 or 800.404.5400 for free, friendly advice.
Editor’s Note: This page has been updated for accuracy and relevancy [cha 2.10.21]
Photo by Justus Menke on Unsplash