A serious fall can have lasting consequences for the injured person, including disability and even death. When a fall happens as a consequence of another person’s negligence, the injured person has the option of suing for compensation. There are several considerations for someone who has been injured in a fall and is considering a lawsuit.
In a slip and fall case, the key question is usually whether the defendant behaved negligently. At the core of negligence is the idea that the defendant owed a legal duty of care to the plaintiff and breached that duty in some way. If the defendant didn’t owe a duty of care to the plaintiff, the defendant, by definition, did not commit an act of negligence.
The specific legal obligation of an individual or business to take care to prevent another person’s injury varies:
- An ordinary person owes only a reasonable duty of care toward others. For example, a homeowner owes a reasonable duty of care to keep his or her property safe for guests. If a known hazard exists on the property, such as a trench dug for construction, the homeowner has a duty to take reasonable steps to warn guests of the hazard.
- A business that is open to the public owes a special duty of care to keep its premises safe. This rule has been interpreted to require a business such as a grocery store, restaurant, or hotel to take reasonable steps to monitor its facilities and resolve problems like spills, damaged equipment, or other issues that could cause a fall.
- Special rules apply to common carriers—planes, busses, trains, and other forms of public transportation. A common carrier owes the highest duty of care toward its passengers.
A defendant in a slip-and-fall case may raise several common defenses. These include:
- Open and obvious. This defense is used when a hazard would have been readily obvious to any reasonable person. It might apply in a case where a trip hazard was roped off with colorful warning tape.
- Assumption of risk, which can apply in cases where the plaintiff knew about the risk of injury and went ahead with an activity anyway. An example where a defendant would raise assumption of risk might be if an ice rink patron slips and falls on the ice.
The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in personal injury cases for over 45 years. If you have suffered a serious injury as a consequence of a fall and you would like to speak to an attorney about your options, please contact us today for a free attorney consultation. Call us today at 702-388-4476 or contact us through our website