Slips, trips and falls cause 15% of all accidental deaths. They are second to only motor vehicle collisions as a cause of fatalities. Every day people injure themselves by tripping and falling in retail stores. These injured people often wonder if the retailer is legally responsible for the injuries that occur as a result of the fall. In order to prove a case against a retailer or property owner under a premise liability cause of action, the injured party must prove the following:
1. The Injured Party was an invitee.
An invitee is a person who enters the premises with the possessor’s express or implied knowledge and for the possessor’s benefit. Examples of invitees are customers, tenants, employees, members of a club, etc.
2. The Defendant was a possessor of the property.
A possessor is anyone who has control over the premises. This could be the owner of the property or a tenant renting the property.
3. A condition of the premises posed an unreasonable risk of harm.
An unreasonable risk of harm is something that is dangerous and unreasonable given the environment. For example, a hole in the middle of an aisle would be an unreasonable condition. A wet floor, uneven tile, cords across a walkway, stairs without rails and empty displays are all examples of possible unreasonably dangerous conditions.
4. The Defendant knew or reasonably should have known of the danger.
This is one of the more difficult elements to prove in most trip and fall cases. The injured party must prove that the Defendant had actual knowledge of the danger or at minimum should have known about the danger. Often injured parties are not able to prove actual knowledge, so they must prove the Defendant should have known. In order to prove the Defendant should have known, the injured party must prove that the danger existed long enough for the Defendant or one of the Defendant’s employees to discover the danger under ordinary circumstances. This is often difficult as well. For example, if a person slips on a wet floor, but has no idea how long the floor was wet, it is extremely difficult to prove the Defendant should have known of the danger. Injured parties often fail to have a wining case because of this required element for a successful lawsuit.
5. The Defendant breached its duty of ordinary care by failing to adequately warn the plaintiff of the condition and failing to make the condition reasonably safe.
The injured party may prove this element by showing there was no warning about the dangerous condition and there was enough time for the Defendant to make the dangerous condition safe.
6. The Defendant’s breach proximately caused the Injured Party’s injury.
This element is proven by showing the injury was caused by the fall and not another source such as a prior accident.
If you were injured as a result of a trip and fall caused by a dangerous condition, call O’Hara Law Firm.