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How to Prove Liability in a Slip and Fall Accident

caution wet floor sign at a corridorIf you or a loved one has been in a slip and fall accident, you may be wondering if you can be compensated for any injuries or other damages.

Under New York state law, you can bring a suit for damages against a person or entity if the person is liable. They are liable if they had authority to ensure proper safety in an area and did not do so. They can be found negligent if the incident then meets the following criteria.

1. The conditions were dangerous and conducive to someone slipping and falling.

The examples are numerous, but can include, for example, a wet floor in a store caused by someone’s dropping and spilling something, or an icy sidewalk.

2. A responsible party knew or should reasonably have known that the conditions were dangerous, and did nothing to remove the dangerous situation.

In the examples given above, the store managers and employees did nothing to clean up the mess or to put warning signs around the area; or the person or business responsible for the sidewalk did nothing to remove the ice.

3. There was sufficient time for the responsible party to take action.

A wet floor should be cleaned up immediately, but if the incident just happened before you turned the aisle corner and slipped in it, and the store manager can prove that, you may have difficulty convincing a jury of the store’s liability.

Similarly, if temperatures dropped to freezing overnight and your landlord had not removed the ice in front of your building at 4 a.m., a court may believe the landlord did not have sufficient time to remove the ice. At 8 a.m., it’s a different story: a landlord or employee could reasonably have been expected to remove it then.

Other circumstances may matter to a court as well. If, for example, a store manager put “danger” signs or cones around spilled material and then went to get a mop, a jury may think that you needed to obey the warning signs. If you are found to have not exercised proper caution in a dangerous situation, the jury may find you partially responsible.

How Do You Establish Proof in a Slip and Fall Case?

If you are involved in a slip and fall accident, premises liability lawyers recommend you take the following steps:

1. Document how the area looked.

Take pictures showing the dangerous conditions, from all angles and distances, if you can. Use your smartphone. If you don’t have a phone, take notes as soon as you can about what occurred.

2. Document any injuries.

It’s also very important to document any injuries, including scrapes or bruises. Cuts heal and bruises fade. If you do choose to file a claim, a jury will need to see any injuries. Take pictures if you can, and take notes as soon as possible if not.

3. See a physician.

If you were injured in any way, see a physician. A doctor’s notes about treating you can be used in any claim.

4. Talk to the person in authority.

If you slip and fall in a retail establishment, it’s a good idea to tell the person in authority (the store manager, or employee if the manager isn’t available). First, that person needs to know to fix the situation. Second, if you do bring a claim, the court may think it unusual that you said nothing at the time.

5. Document any loss to you.

Did the damage from the slip and fall cause you to lose wages from time off work? Did you have to go to physical therapy? It is also possible to bring damages for doctor’s bills, lost wages, and physical therapy expenses, among other losses.

New York City and Long Island Slip and Fall Attorneys

If you or a loved one has been injured in a slip and fall accident, Edelman, Krasin & Jaye’s experienced premises liability attorneys can help. Call 1-800-469-7429 for a free consultation with an experienced New York City and Long Island slip and fall lawyer today.

More information about proving liability in slip, trip and fall cases:

  1. Insurance Information Institute. Commercial General Liability Insurance. https://www.iii.org/article/commercial-general-liability-insurance
  2. Insurance Information Institute. Business Owners Insurance Policies Provide Essential Financial Protection. https://www.iii.org/press-release/business-owners-insurance-policies-provide-essential-financial-protection-070711