Many people are injured in slip and fall accidents every day. While some of these accidents are caused by clumsiness or not paying attention, others are caused by negligence on the part of a business owner or property owner.
If you or a loved one slips or falls down broken stairs or over a rough patch of ground, it may sometimes result in serious injuries. A property owner may or may not be considered liable when this happens.
Slip and Fall Accident Statistics
Falls can result in serious injuries, or even death. It’s not uncommon for victims to suffer a fatal accident with a fall down a flight of stairs or off of a high ledge. Serious injuries, such as broken bones or head injuries, can make it very hard for the person to get around and may lead to long-term consequences. Older people are particularly vulnerable to breaking bones and experiencing debilitating injuries when they fall.
The National Floor Safety Institute has gathered the following statistics:
- Floor and flooring materials contribute directly to as many as 2 million falls each year
- Over 8 million hospital room visits are fall-related
- The leading cause of occupational injury are falls for people age 55 or older
- Falls are the leading cause of brain and spinal cord injuries
- On the job, slip and fall accidents can lead to workers’ compensation claims and time out of work
Determining Who is at Fault
A slip and fall accident is not automatically considered the fault of the property owner. Adults are expected to be aware that the ground may get wet or slippery and that there could be bumps or hazards in your path. It’s not realistic to expect property owners to notice and fix everything that is wrong as soon as it happens.
A person who falls may have been careless and not paying attention. For example, someone who is reading a text and falls down a staircase because they didn’t notice it was there can’t blame the property owner for the fall.
What Makes a Property Owner Liable?
If you were injured because of a fall on someone else’s property, what would make the property owner liable for your injuries? Here are some things that would make them considered responsible:
- The property owner caused an item to be underfoot or caused the hazard
- The property owner was aware of the danger but did nothing about it
- A reasonable person would have noticed the danger, such as a broken stair, hole in the ground, or poor lighting
It can be difficult to determine what is “reasonable” in a case like this. The question is how long the hazard was there and whether the property owner typically makes the effort to keep the property clean and safe.
Were You Careless?
Before you assume the property owner is responsible for your injury, consider your own behavior. Were you careless in any way? Were there signs warning you of the danger that you ignored? Were you distracted and not looking where you were going?
There are accidents that are definitely caused by someone else’s failure to keep an area safe, but there is always the possibility that your own actions contributed to your injuries. You are expected to be aware of your surroundings and to make the effort to avoid dangerous conditions, and it may not be considered the property owner’s fault that you were injured if you failed to try to be careful.
Get Legal Advice
If you have been injured in a slip and fall accident and you believe someone else is responsible, it’s a good idea to discuss what happened with an expert in the field of personal injury law. Contact Taos Injury Lawyers using the form on this page. One of our lawyers will get back to you very soon to help you determine whether you may have a case.