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Slip & Fall Lawyer

Frequently Asked Questions about Slip and Fall Accidents

Q: What is a "licensee?"

A: Under common law principles, a licensee is a person who enters the premises with the landowner's express or implied permission for his or her own purposes rather than for the landowner's benefit. An example of a licensee is a social guest. An owner or occupier of land has a duty to warn a licensee of a dangerous condition that creates an unreasonable risk of harm if it is known to the owner or occupier and not likely to be discovered by the licensee.

Q. I was invited to a neighbor's house for a party and was injured while I was there. Can I recover for my injuries?

A: Under common law principles, a property owner's duty to an entrant depends on the entrant's legal status as an invitee, licensee or trespasser. A social guest, such as a person invited to a party, is considered a licensee. In this example, the neighbor had a duty to warn you of a dangerous condition that creates an unreasonable risk of harm if it is known to the neighbor and not likely to be discovered by you, the guest. Thus, if you were injured on a hidden condition, such as a loose floorboard that the neighbor knew about, but did not warn you about, you may be able to recover for your injuries. The neighbor does not have a duty to inspect for defects nor to fix known defects.

Q: What is an "invitee?"

A: Under common law principles, an invitee is someone who enters land or premises in response to the landowner's express or implied invitation. There are two types of invitees. The first group is people who enter as members of the public for a purpose for which the land is open to the public; for example, a church, airport or museum. The second group is people who enter a premises for a purpose connected with the property owner or occupier's business; for example, customers at a retail store, delivery persons and employees.

Q: Can a person recover from a store for injuries sustained when he or she slipped on a spilled liquid and fell?

A: Whether a person (classified as an invitee) injured in a slip and fall accident at a retail store can recover from that store depends on the specific facts of the case. Generally, stores have a duty to use reasonable and ordinary care to keep the property, including the floors, reasonably safe for customers. The store has a duty to make reasonable inspections to discover dangerous conditions and to make them safe, and employees should routinely inspect areas the public uses to discover any potentially dangerous conditions, such as a spill. If the spilled liquid was so obvious and visible that the customer should reasonably have seen it, the store does not have a duty to warn. However, a spill might not be considered obvious if a store's display distracts a customer and the customer does not see the spill.

Q: What is the "attractive display" doctrine?

A: Under the attractive display doctrine, a plaintiff invitee may be excused from seeing a spilled substance or foreign object on the floor if he or she was looking at a store display, rather than watching where he or she was going. In this situation, the defendant store actually created the distraction, a display or merchandise designed to attract the customers' attention. Essentially, since the defendant store is aware that a customer will look at displays and merchandise, a plaintiff should be permitted to assume that an aisle will be free of dangerous conditions.

Q: Is evidence that another customer told an employee that a liquid or food had spilled on the floor relevant to proving a slip and fall case?

A: Yes. If an employee of the property owner or store occupying the space was notified of the spill or other dangerous condition, this is relevant to proving that the owner or occupier was aware of the dangerous condition and was negligent in failing to clean it up or fix it.

Q: If a property owner violated a building regulation, can a plaintiff use this evidence to prove his or her slip and fall case?

A: Yes. If a property owner violated a relevant building code regulation or statute, the plaintiff can use this evidence to establish negligence on the part of the property owner. A property owner must comply with applicable building codes. For example, building codes often dictate where handrails must be installed and how high they should be. If you fall on a stairway that lacked appropriate handrails, and the lack of the handrail caused your injuries, the fact that the property owner violated the applicable building regulation can be used to establish negligence.

Q: Who are potential responsible parties in a slip and fall case?

A: There may be more than one person or entity that may be held responsible for injuries you suffered in a slip and fall accident. For example, if a store rents retail space from a property owner, both the owner and the store (the tenant) may be named as defendants. In that example, the tenant store is the possessor of the property. In addition, if the property owner tasked a management company with managing or maintaining the property, that management company may also be named as a defendant.

Q: Can my recovery be reduced if I am found to be partially at fault for my slip and fall injuries?

A: Yes. Many accidents happen when people are simply careless. If an injured person is partially at fault for his or her own injury, but the landowner is also at fault, he or she might still be able to recover from the landowner, but the amount of damages might be reduced. Further, you may be barred from recovering damages if the landowner successfully argues that the "plain view" doctrine should apply to your case. Under the plain view doctrine, a person who enters another's property has a duty to watch where he or she is going and to notice open and obvious objects that are in plain view. If the entrant does not exercise ordinary care and notice an obvious condition, he or she can said to have assumed the risk, thereby barring or reducing recovery.

Q: What type of damages can I recover in a slip and fall accident case?

A: A slip and fall case is a type of personal injury case. As with other personal injury cases, you may be able to recover damages for your out-of-pocket expenses, such as medical bills, the cost of prescription drugs, physical therapy and medical equipment. If you have to miss work because of your injuries, you may also be able to recover lost wages. You may also be able to recover damages for pain and suffering, inconvenience, mental anguish and physical impairment.

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