A “slip and fall” is the term for a personal injury case where a person slips or trips and is injured on someone else’s property. The cases fall under the broader legal category of “house liability” claims.
Slip and fall accidents happen all year round. However, they are more likely to occur in winter, which creates conditions that are more likely to lead to slip and fall accidents. Winter’s cold weather, precipitation and storms can lead to heavy snow that makes sidewalks, parking lots and paths slick. Snowy and icy conditions increase the risk of slip and fall accidents and may result in injury. The CDC estimates that 3 million people are hospitalized each year after falls, with one in five falls resulting in a serious injury such as a broken bone or head trauma. So, going into winter it is imperative to take extra care and know what to do if you are injured in a slip and fall accident.
If you were injured in a slip and fall accident, talk to a Kansas City attorney who will evaluate the circumstances of your case and help you navigate the legal system to get the damages you deserve for your injuries.
Common Causes of Slips and Falls
Slips and falls can happen anywhere. However, there are certain places or situations where slips and falls are more likely to occur. To avoid slips and falls, it’s important to know where these accidents typically occur. Common places for slips and falls include:
wet store floor
One of the most common places where slip and fall accidents occur is in shops, especially if the floors are wet. This can happen when:
- something was spilled and not cleaned up
- Cleaning staff washing floors without adequate warning of wet floors
- No mat to dry feet in bad weather (i.e. rain, snow, ice)
If you are in a store and see water on the floor or realize you may be slipping, use extra caution and avoid the area. It is also important to contact the owner or person in charge so that the unsafe situation can be corrected.
Slips and falls are common on uneven sidewalks. This can be caused by a number of things, such as roots growing under the concrete or cracks in the sidewalk that haven’t been repaired. Winter can also cause uneven sidewalks due to the freezing and melting of snow and ice. If you see an area that looks like it might be dangerous, avoid it or move around as much as possible.
In Missouri, property owners are responsible for maintaining sidewalks in front of their properties. However, in some cases, the municipality will help the property owner and cover the cost of maintenance and repairs. For example, Missouri’s 50-50 sidewalk program allows eligible property owners in St. Louis to share the cost of sidewalk repairs. Additionally, in St. Louis, if sidewalk damage is caused by city trees, the city will pay 100% of the repair costs. If you’re a Missouri homeowner, it’s a good idea to contact your local municipality, ask about local laws, and see if there are any programs that can help you fix sidewalks.
One of the most dangerous places to walk in winter is on icy or snow-covered steps. When ice or snow accumulates on steps, it creates a very slippery surface that can cause you to stumble and fall. If you must walk on icy or snowy steps, be sure to take your time and take extra care to hold on to the railing. Wearing shoes with good traction will help prevent slipping. Owners of residential and commercial properties are responsible for clearing snow and warning of icy conditions on their property to prevent falls.
who is responsible for slip and fall accidents
Missouri law requires public and private property owners to provide safe, secure and well-maintained premises. Therefore, property owners must take reasonable and ordinary care to prevent their property from causing injury to others. If a property owner fails to take good care of their property and someone is injured, the property owner may be liable for the accident. There are many different factors that need to be examined to determine liability.
Generally, if the landlord can prove that the landlord:
- create a hazardous situation resulting in a tripping or slipping injury, or
- became aware of the hazardous situation but did not correct, warn or prevent it, or
- Hazardous situations should be known because a “reasonable person” would spot them and take steps to prevent the harm they cause.
Some of the factors to examine when determining liability is the length of time the unsafe condition has existed. Slip and fall liability generally depends on whether the hazardous condition of the property is permanent or temporary. In the case of a permanent hazard, such as a broken handrail, the owner is usually liable because the hazardous situation should have been remedied. In the event of a temporary hazard, such as an icy driveway, slip and fall liability usually rests on whether the owner has had enough time to realize and remedy the situation.
The law also examines how injured persons entered property. Under Missouri law, people who visit a property can be classified in one of three ways:
- Invited people: A person invited to a premises by a landowner, such as a customer entering a business. Business owners are obliged to take reasonable care to maintain the security of their property, including warning invitees of hazards.
- Licensee: Guests or party attendees are considered licensees. Private property owners are under no obligation to inspect or repair defects, but do have a duty to warn their guests of hazards they know exist on the property.
- Intruder: A person who sets foot on the property without permission is a trespasser. In Missouri, property owners are not liable for trespassers they do not know, but property owners are required to inform them of any dangers to their property if they become aware of a trespasser.
Comparative negligence is also considered when determining liability for slip and fall accidents. This involves the extent to which the person who slips and falls is liable for the fall compared to the liability of the property owner. If the victim did not take reasonable steps to try to prevent the fall, they will be partly responsible. The percentage of liability that the court will assign to each party will determine the percentage of damages each party should pay.
What to do after a slip and fall accident
Slip and fall injuries range from bruises, sprains and broken bones, to spinal cord injuries and traumatic brain injuries. If you fall and get injured due to the negligence of your landlord, you have the right to claim compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages and other damages. A slip and fall accident on someone else’s property requires you to act quickly to protect your right to a fair settlement. These steps can demonstrate the extent of your injury and loss. These can be provided to your attorney who will obtain this information and carry out any further investigation needed to document and prove the burden.
- seek medical attention
- report an accident
- Take photos and videos of the accident and your injuries
- Ask witnesses for their contact information, including phone numbers and email addresses
- Contact an Experienced Slip and Fall Lawyer
Kansas City Slip & Fall Lawyers
If you’ve been involved in a slip and fall accident due to someone else’s negligence, you’ll want to contact an experienced personal injury attorney for help as early as possible. Proving negligence in a slip and fall accident requires an investigation to determine fault. Hiring an experienced attorney early on will help you document and gather evidence of the negligence of others in this situation. Proving negligence in slip and fall cases can be complicated. Don’t feel like you have nowhere to go and no one to help. Our team of experienced attorneys has successfully won even the most complex slip and fall cases for our clients.
The attorneys at Peterson & Associates PC can help you file your claim and get the compensation you deserve. Contact our Kansas City personal injury attorneys today to learn more about your legal options. Contact Peterson and Associates PC at (816) 578-0580 for a free consultation with a slip and fall attorney in Kansas City. With a proven track record of success, our team of attorneys is ready to assist you.