Attorney representation of slip and fall accidents is a specialized field within the area of personal injury. Generally speaking, slip and fall accidents can also be trip and falls and are known collectively under the legal category of premise liability injuries. Premise liability is the legal wording that means certain owners of land or property can be held liable (responsible) for certain injuries to others on said land or property.
There tends to be fewer personal injury attorneys willing to represent injured persons in slip and fall accidents because the area can be very difficult to prove in terms of liability. The reason for this is because liability is always "open to attack" by the defense insurance adjuster, or insurance defense attorney. Liability has to be proven by the injured person by establishing at least three elements:
- 1. the defendant, or at-fault party, had notice of the dangerous condition or slippery substance that caused the slip and fall, and failed to remedy the condition in time to prevent the injury; this notice element can be divided into two subgroups:
- a. Actual Notice: this means the defendant knew (was aware) of the dangerous condition or slippery substance and did nothing to remedy it despite the defendant having the prior knowledge;
- b. Constructive Notice: this means the defendant should have known of the dangerous condition or slippery substance; usually constructive notice is shown where it can be proven the dangerous condition or slippery substance could have been discovered upon reasonable inspection of the premises.
- 2. the defendant had control or dominion over the dangerous condition or slippery substance that caused the slip and fall; for example, water from a leaky refrigeration unit in a store would show that the refrigeration unit was in the store and the owner of the store had control over the maintenance of the unit, etc.;
- 3. the injured person, or plaintiff, could not see the dangerous condition or slippery substance because it was not open or obvious. For example, water on the floor is hard to see if there is no sign or warning cone because water blends into any colored floor. In contrast, coffee on a white floor would be easier to see.
The above legal standard makes these types of cases difficult to navigate in terms of proving liability, and only experienced personal injury attorneys tend to handle them.