Slip and fall accidents are among the most common types of litigated casualties in the United States. They can sometimes be so serious that they result in injuries requiring expensive and extensive medical treatment. Common injuries from falling include fractured legs, ankles and arms. Some severe breaks even require surgery. Head injuries are also common. Consulting a personal injury lawyer after a slip and fall can help to determine if you are eligible for compensation due to the negligence of a property or business owner.
What Circumstances Can Lead to Slips and Falls?
A slip and fall injury happens when the dangerous condition of another person’s property causes someone to lose their balance and fall to the ground. As such, there are as many types of slip and fall accidents as there are places they can occur. Some of the most common places people slip and fall include:
- Stairways (particularly those that are not well lit)
- Terraces or balconies
- Parking ramps
- Cracked or uneven sidewalks or driveways
- Poorly maintained or wet floors
- Walkways obstructed by objects
- Slippery or icy sidewalks and entries
- Store aisles that are wet from mopping or spilled food items.
How Is Liability Determined for Slip and Fall Accidents?
Property owners are obligated to ensure their property is in safe condition for those who are welcome on the premises. If the property contains an unreasonable risk to visitors which could not be foreseen, it is considered to be in a dangerous condition, and therefore the property owner could be held liable before a court of law. If a property owner neglected this duty and knew or should have known about a hazardous or faulty condition that caused you to slip and fall, you may be entitled to compensation for the injuries you sustained.
Ice and Snow in Minnesota: How Do They Impact Slip and Fall Cases?
On the grounds that property owners must consistently maintain all parts of their property, including any parking lots and walkways, ice and snow must be regularly removed. They are allowed to take a “reasonable” amount of time to remove these safety hazards, so if you slip and fall in an icy or snowy parking lot during a blizzard, the property owner would likely not be held legally responsible because the snowstorm was still ongoing.
On the other hand, the property owner may be considered liable if an abnormal accumulation of ice or snow occurs due to maintenance issues on the property. Some instances of this would include:
- If ice became built up on a roof, then melted and dripped off because of a clogged drain, and became refrozen on the ground;
- If a parking lot full of potholes and dips caused melted ice to form puddles, which then became refrozen into patches of ice;
- Accumulation of packed down snow that becomes very smooth and slippery.
Apartment property owners who provide ice and snow removal services for their tenants are also obligated to keep up with snowfall and ice formation by providing regular maintenance.
Evidence of the condition of the area where the fall occurs is critical. Take as many photographs of whatever you slipped or fell on, including the icy patch or item. On a sidewalk that is not level, use a dollar bill or quarter to demonstrate the size of the drop.
Immediately contact the property owner and make a report. Show them whatever caused the fall and ask that they also take photographs. Finally, look around for any surveillance video cameras and, if you notice one, ask the owner of the camera to provide you with a copy of the tape. If they refuse, provide them with a letter asking them to preserve the tape. Also, ask for their insurance information.
If an ambulance or police are called, which is recommended, point out to them whatever it was that caused you to fall, so they can also document it. You also can use that officer or EMT as a future witness.
Our Competent St. Cloud Attorneys Can Assist With Your Slip and Fall Case
When it comes to these sorts of accidents, many factors need to be considered to file a strong suit, such as previous complaints against a property owner, establishing the negligence of a property owner, and determining any fault on the part of the injured individual. Personal injury law firms will also examine various other factors while investigating and building your case. We, at Heller & Thyen, P.A. can help you understand the laws surrounding slips and falls as we work to assemble the strongest possible claim to get you the help you need.
If you or a loved one has suffered an injury from a slip and fall accident and would like to know more about how these sorts of cases are handled, contact our St. Cloud lawyers today for a free consultation.