Trip and Falls
If you fall and get injured, you may have a claim against the owner of the property where you fell. This is called a premises liability claim.
Our legal definition to prove a claim is based on the same ideas of any claim for negligence: we need to show that a property owner had a duty to you, the owner breached or failed to follow that duty, the failure caused your injury, and you were injured.
What is a Property Owner’s Duty?
To prove this claim, you need to show that what caused you to fall was an unsafe condition. That is one that creates an unreasonable risk of harm. Owners have to keep their property in a safe condition. They need to look for unsafe conditions and fix them or warn you about them.
When we decide if a property is in a safe condition, we look at what is reasonable. Would a reasonable owner have fixed this before inviting people to come onto the land or into the store? And if they did fix it, was it done so where it did not increase the risk of harm?
Putting those together, we have a duty: A property owner has a duty to use reasonable care to keep the property in a reasonably safe condition.
What is Notice?
To prove a claim for premises liability, you need to show that the owner had notice. We can show notice in two ways: actual notice or constructive notice.
Actual notice is when you actually know about it. If an employee of a store spills water and doesn’t clean it up, they knew about the unsafe condition.
However, if a customer in the store spills water and doesn’t tell the store about it, and it sits there for a period of time, we can say that the store had constructive notice. The law requires a store to check for unsafe conditions routinely throughout the day. We all know things can get spilled in a store, so it is reasonable for the store to have to look.
Another way to show constructive notice is if there were other falls before yours and the property owner didn’t fix it. This could be for a cracked sidewalk or unsafe walkway.
Examples of cases where there are premises liability claims: slippery conditions, spilled liquids, cracked sidewalks, uneven stairs, missing handrails, and improperly covered holes.
If you do fall and get injured, you should tell the property owner and take photographs as soon as you can. These two issues can help us figure out what happened.