Slip/Trip & Fall (liquids, snow & ice)

A slip/trip and fall case arises when a person is injured because a walking surface (interior floor or outside surface) contains a dangerous condition (water, ice, oil, soap, holes, cracks, other defects) that causes a person to slip or trip and then fall or get knocked off balance.

What are the elements of a slip/trip and fall case?

If you slip/trip and fall and are injured because of a condition on property, you will have to show the owner of the property was negligent in dealing with the condition—that is, that the owner knew or should have known about the dangerous condition on the property and failed to clean it (or if it was cleaned, it was cleaned in a way that did not fix it or made the condition worse), fix it, rope it off, or warn of the condition.

Examples: In each of the following, if the property owner had notice of the condition and failed to do anything about it (or took action but did so in a way that failed to adequately address the condition), the injured person may be able to recover for slip/trip and fall.

  • You are in a store, and there is water on the floor. The owner knows or should know about the water and has done nothing to clean it. You walk on the water and fall, injuring yourself.
  • You are in the grocery store produce aisle and some bananas have fallen to the ground. Others have walked on them, smashing them and creating an invisible, slick area. Although the store employs people to police aisles for spills, on this day nobody has done the job. You slip on the banana slick and injure yourself.
  • You are in an office building, and the floor has just been mopped with a cleaning solution that makes the floor slippery. There is neither a warning sign, a rope around the slippery area or a carpet to help people avoid that slippery area. You slip, fall and injure yourself.
  • You are walking on a municipal walkway after a snowstorm. The walkway appears to have been cleared of ice and snow; there is no warning that the surface is icy. You decide it is safe to walk on the sidewalk, but as you progress, the walkway becomes patchy with ice and you fall, injuring yourself. (Although slip and fall on ice cases can be difficult to prove and are often considered mere accidents, in this situation the municipality may be liable because it undertook to clean the surface, which was an invitation to walk on it, but did a poor job. This created a dangerous condition for pedestrians.)

Note that in any of the above cases, if the property owner does not have notice of a dangerous condition or could not have known about the condition, it can be difficult to prove negligence in failing to address the condition. And in a snow and ice situation, if snow is falling or has just finished falling when a person slips and falls, it is very difficult to claim negligence.

I have been injured in a slip/trip and fall:

  • Notify the property owner immediately or ASAP
  • Seek medical attention and otherwise document your claims
  • Your time to sue is limited; contact an experienced personal injury lawyer

Changes may occur in this area of law. The information provided is brought to you as a public service with the help and assistance of volunteer legal editors, and is intended to help you better understand the law in general. It is not intended to be legal advice regarding your particular problem or to substitute for the advice of a lawyer.

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