A trip-and-fall lawsuit is the result of an individual tripping, or striking an object on the ground or nearby with their foot, which results in the individual falling to the ground. Most people are familiar with the slip-and-fall lawsuit, which involves a slip as opposed to a trip.

A property owner is usually responsible for injuries that occur on their property. This is especially true if the danger is not obvious but the owner was aware of the danger at the time of the injury.

There are many dangerous conditions that can result in trip and fall accidents. These may include:

  • Torn carpeting;
  • Changes in flooring;
  • Nails or screws in the floor;
  • Poor lighting;
  • Narrow stairs;
  • Cracked sidewalks; and/or
  • Hidden hazards.

Read More About:

Who Can I Sue for a Trip and Fall?

If an individual is injured due to a trip and fall incident, they may be able to sue the property owner. They will have to show some type of legal relationship with the individual in charge of the property. The plaintiff may be required to prove that the individual in charge had a legal duty to protect or warn against dangers.

In some cases, other parties may be held liable for the trip and fall incident. For example, a city or municipality may sometimes be held liable for failing to repair a dangerous condition in a public road or parkway.

What is the Duty of Care Owed by the Property Owners?

A property owner is required to provide reasonable care and maintenance of their property to ensure that it is safe from dangerous conditions. That duty may change depending on how an individual enters the property. The duty imposed upon the property owner to prevent serious injury from occurring on their property is known as premises liability.

There are three general categories for a property owner’s duty of care, including:

  • An invitee;
  • A licensee; and
  • A trespasser.

The laws regarding individuals entering a property and how they are categorized may vary by state. It is important for a property owner to review local laws in their state to determine the correct application of the rules, duties, and responsibilities for property owners.

Additionally, a property owner is required to inspect the property and adequately repair any unsafe conditions or provide a warning for the unsafe condition. The property owner may be held liable for injuries resulting from a dangerous condition on their property even if they were not aware it existed.

How Do I Determine What Type of Duty is Owed?

As noted above, there are three categories of individuals that may enter property. The duty owed to these individuals varies depending on the category in which they fit.

An invitee is an individual invited onto the property for a business purpose. They are owed the highest duty of care. A property owner must reasonably inspect for, discover, and fix any unknown hazards in areas of the property to which an invitee may have access. For example, a store owner has a duty to ensure the restroom facilities are safe.

A licensee is an individual who is on the property for social reasons or for their own purpose. The duty of care level owed to a licensee is lower than that owed to an invitee. The property owner is required to take reasonable care in protecting licensees from any known dangers on the property, but is not required to inspect for and/or discover any unknown dangers. For example, if an individual hosts a party at their home, guests are considered licensees.

A trespasser is an individual who enters the property without the property owner’s permission. A property owner does not have a duty to protect a trespasser who enters their property but they cannot willfully injure them. The property owner may be liable for injury, however, if they are aware of frequent trespassers on the property and there is an unsafe condition. The following are some conditions must be present for liability:

  • The dangerous condition existed because the property owner created it or maintained it;
  • The hazardous condition was likely to cause serious bodily harm or death; and
  • The landowner failed to exercise due care to warn the trespassers of the condition and the risk present.

These guidelines also change when they are applied to trespassers who are children. For example, a property owner may be held liable if a child wanders onto their property and injures themselves due to a dangerous condition on the property. It is important for a property owner to ensure their property does not have hazardous conditions that may attract nearby children. In these instances, there is a duty to inspect the premises for safety and repair any known unsafe conditions.

How is Liability Determined?

In order for an individual to bring a claim for injuries suffered from slipping or tripping on another’s property, they must prove one of the following:

  • The owner of the premises or an employee caused premises to be unsafe;
  • The owner of the premises or an employee knew of the unsafe condition and failed to take measures to remedy the condition; or
  • The owner of the premises or an employee should have known of the unsafe condition on the premises because a reasonable individual taking care of the property would have discovered the condition and removed or repaired it.

A property owner is negligent if they do not exercise reasonable care in keeping their premises in a safe condition. Negligence occurs when an individual fails to exercise reasonable care that results in injury to another.

It is important that the plaintiff, or injured party, demonstrates that they were not careless in failing to avoid the injury. If the plaintiff somehow contributed to their own injury, their damages may be reduced pursuant to contributory negligence laws or other legal restrictions.

For example, suppose an individual observes a dangerous area of a property that is blocked off with a fence and a sign indicating danger. If that individual enters that area voluntarily, it may affect their damages award if they sustain an injury.

How Can I Prevent Accidents on My Property?

The easiest way to prevent accidents on an individual’s property is to keep the property free from hazards. It is important to perform regular inspections for unsafe or hazardous conditions.

If an unsafe or hazardous condition is discovered, it is essential to perform corrective maintenance immediately. In addition, it is important to take note if visitors or patrons point out dangerous conditions on the property.

Do I Need a Lawyer to Sue for a Trip and Fall?

Yes, it is essential to have the help of an experienced personal injury attorney if you suffer an injury in a trip-and-fall accident. Your attorney can review your case, determine if damages may be available, and represent you during any court proceedings, if necessary.

If you are being sued for another individual’s trip-and-fall accident on your property, it is very important to contact an attorney as soon as possible. Legal defenses may be available to you that will lessen the damages you may have to pay to the injured individual.