Although falls are most common in people over age 65, anyone can have a falling accident. In fact, statistics from the National Safety Council show falls as the leading cause of nonfatal injuries treated in the emergency room, with nearly 8 million people treated for fall-related injuries in 2001. In 2002, 14,500 people died from falls from one level to another or on the same level.
Studies show that 60 percent of all falls are related to a slipping or tripping incident, with such likely causes as a foreign object on the walking surface, a design flaw in the walking surface, a slippery surface caused by weather or a spill, or a person’s impaired physical or mental condition. If the latter is the case, or if the injured party in the slip and fall incident should have been aware of the dangerous surface and avoided it, the fault lies solely on the victim. In other cases, however, liability can be questioned.
In older adults, most slip and fall accidents occur at home, leaving only the victim responsible. When the accident occurs on someone else’s property, however, slip and fall lawsuits are common. In order for a slip and fall victim to win such cases, it must be proven that the owner of the premises either caused the damage to the walking surface; knew of the dangerous spot and did nothing about it; or should have known about the dangerous surface because it should have been discovered, reported or repaired by a so-called “reasonable” person taking care of the property.
Because deciding one’s reasonability is often a subjective task, slip and fall lawsuits are tricky to handle and decided by common sense. Additionally, because there are frequently several people involved in representing a property – such as the property owner, tenant or business, landlord or manager – the responsible party is not always obvious. An attorney familiar with slip and fall cases, also known under the general umbrella of premises liability law, will help you determine who is at fault for your incident.
It is important to note that if your slip and fall accident occurred on public property, most states require that you give notice to the appropriate governmental entity, such as the city, within a short time period. This period may be within as few as 30 days from the date of injury, and if you fail to report it within the time frame, you may forfeit all of your rights to recover damages from the injury. It is best to contact a lawyer immediately to ensure your case is handled expeditiously.