If you have fallen on someone else's property and have been injured as a result, you may have the right to pursue a claim for compensation.
To determine whether you have a claim, the same basic principles apply to slip and fall accidents as do motor vehicle accidents (see “Automobile Accidents – The Law At Work”). However, you must also prove a few additional elements in order to succeed. So, let's look at the law at work when someone slips and falls.
Let's assume someone falls on wooden steps leading to the back entrance of their neighbor's home. One of the steps was improperly secured and came loose when stepped on, and this caused the fall. Two major points have to be shown in addition to the law of negligence described in our Automobile Accident section:
1.Defective Condition: First and foremost, the injured person needs to identify specifically what caused the fall, and the cause of the fall must be from defect on the property. In our example, the improperly secured step is the defect that caused the fall.
2.Notice: Second, the property owner must have had notice of the defect, and then failed to correct the problem within a reasonable time after receiving notice. In other words, the injured person must establish that the property owner either knew or should have known of the defect that caused the injury, and failed to remedy the defect within a reasonable amount of time prior to the fall. In our example, the injured person would have to show the property owner either knew about the improperly secured stair or should have known about this defect, and did nothing to repair it.
What qualifies as a defective condition on a property?
A defect on a property is an unreasonably dangerous condition which poses an unreasonable risk of harm to people on the property. The determination as to what poses an unreasonable risk of harm depends on the specific circumstances of each case.
How is notice proven?
In some instances, notice may be established by documentation showing that the property owner was notified of the defective condition. In other cases, witness testimony may establish the length of time a defect existed on the property or indicate that the property owner was made aware through verbal communications of the defect. In other situations, the defect itself may provide insight as to the length of time it existed, thereby establishing that the property owner “should have known” about the problem.
If you live in a rented property, and know of a defective condition on the property, you should put your landlord on notice of the defect in writing. Keep a copy of the letter you send, and if possible, send the letter by certified and regular mail. Send the letter as soon as you become aware of any problem and ask for the problem to be fixed.
Do the defect and notice rules apply if I fall on snow and ice?
These rules apply and more. Each state will have different rules regarding cases involving snow and ice. Some states require you to show that there was an unnatural accumulation of snow and ice before you may make a claim. Other states define what a reasonable time period is for a landowner to clear snow and ice after the last snow falls.
At the Haymond Law Firm, our philosophy is to be prepared. Our mission is to communicate, counsel and enlighten our clients. Our goal is to achieve results. By being prepared, together, we can achieve. If you believe that you have been a victim of a defective condition on a property, or due to snow and ice, please contact the Haymond Law Firm to discuss the specifics of your case.