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Slips, Trips & Falls – Who’s Responsible?

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Slip & falls is a term that is used in personal injury cases where a person trips or slips and is injured on another person’s property. Personal injury lawyers typically deal with these cases under the category of “personal injury” or “occupiers’ liability” claims.

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There is a myriad of dangerous conditions that can contribute to someone slipping and falling, including:

  • Wet floors
  • Torn carpeting
  • Poor lighting
  • Narrow stairwells
  • Changes in flooring texture or levelling
  • Snow and/or ice
  • Defects in stairs or railings
  • Defects in sidewalks or parking lots

For a case to be viable, the person must have sustained an injury and the fall must be the result of improperly maintained conditions to seek compensation.

Who Is Responsible for Slip & Falls?

A property owner can be held liable for injuries sustained when someone falls on their property, in the following situations:

  • The property owner was aware of the dangerous condition and did not take adequate measures to correct it.
  • The property owner created the condition that led to the fall.
  • The property owner should have been aware of the dangerous condition and should have taken action to prevent injuries from occurring.

Typically, liability is decided by common sense. Often, judges and juries will determine whether or not the occupier or owner of the property was reasonably careful by taking the necessary steps to keep the property safe. The law focuses on whether or not the owner or occupier made regular efforts to keep the property clean, safe, and in line with the necessary codes.

There are several other factors that personal injury lawyers take into account when determining who is responsible for a fall, including:

  • If the victim acted reasonably concerning their safety at the time of their fall
  • How long the dangerous condition existed and whether or not the owner or occupier had time to be aware of the condition and rectify it
  • If the owner or occupier did try to fix the situation, were their actions reasonable?

Who Is Responsible for a Commercial Property Incident?

If someone has suffered injuries from falling at a commercial property, such as in a restaurant or store, the owner of the property, the tenant or an employee of either may be liable if they:

  • Knew or should have known about the situation and did nothing about it
  • Caused a dangerous condition where pedestrians would be walking (e.g. caused a spill or debris to accumulate on a floor)

Once again, liability in these circumstances is determined based on common senseand documented efforts by the owner or occupier to inspect and maintain the property. Often with commercial property incidents, there can be more than one party who can be held liable for the victim’s injuries.

Who Is Responsible for a Residential Property Incident?

In the case of residential settings, a personal injury lawyer may be able to hold landlords liable for falls occurring on a rental property. For a landlord to be held responsible, a tenant is required to show that:

  • The landlord failed to take reasonable action to avoid an accident which led to the injuries
  • An injury was a consequence of something not being fixed
  • Repairing the condition was would have been relatively inexpensive and reasonable
  • The landlord had control over the condition of the property that resulted in the incident

Who Is Responsible for a Government Property Slip and Fall?

When a trip and fall injury happens on a property that is owned by a federal, provincial, or municipal government, there are special rules that apply. Particularly, there can be very strict notice requirements (often as little as 7-10 days) and immunity provisions that can shield government entities from being held responsible for injuries that happen on their property. You should contact a lawyer immediately if you have been injured on property that you think may be owned by some level of government.

Do You Need Legal Assistance?

If you have tripped, slipped, and had a fall on another person’s property, an experienced personal injury attorney can help you seek the compensation you may be entitled to for your pain and suffering and any other damages that you may have suffered, including loss of income.

To learn more about how you can hold someone else liable for your fall and a better understanding of how these cases work, get in touch with our lawyers at Mackesy Smye today.

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