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Determining liability for slip-and-fall injuries

When you think of injuries from a fall, you may think of someone falling from a height, such as a construction worker. However, tripping and slipping resulting in a fall can occur at any time, especially when property owners are not diligent about eliminating hazards from their property.

An uneven pavement, an exposed tree root or an object left in your pathway may cause you to fall forward, damaging your knees, arms or face. A slip on a slick surface may send you backward, injuring your spine or head. Injuries in these types of falls may be minor at best, but in an instant, such a fall can lead to life-changing or deadly injuries.

Whose fault is it?

Whether you are on private property where you were welcomed or invited, or you are in a public place, such as a store, office building or government property, you have the right to be safe from hazards that could cause you harm. A property owner who fails to regularly monitor the environment for danger may be responsible for any injuries you might suffer as a result of a preventable fall. Personal injury claims related to slips, trips and falls are not easy to prove. Liability depends on the following elements:

  • The property owner, manager, or employees created or knew about the hazard that caused you to slip or trip.
  • The property owner was aware of the hazard but did nothing to repair it, remove it or warn you about it.
  • If the owner was not aware of the hazard, it was because he or she did not take reasonable steps to become aware of it, such as establishing a maintenance routine.

This last point may be the most difficult to prove since you will have to demonstrate to the court what the property owner should have known. Additionally, you will have to show that your own actions did not contribute to your fall. For example, the court will want to know whether you were trespassing or in an area of a building where you should not have been. Perhaps your shoes were not reasonable for the circumstances or you were texting while walking, which prevented you from seeing the hazard.

Tripping on a sidewalk, slipping on a wet floor, stumbling on a dark stairway or falling in a cluttered aisle may leave you with disabling injuries and chronic pain. Determining liability for these injuries requires skilled and methodical representation. A Tennessee attorney can provide such representation.

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