In general terms, “slip and fall” or “trip and fall” accidents refer to situations where a person is injured by slipping, or tripping, and falling due to a dangerous condition on the premises. Such falls can happen inside or outside a building, and be caused by such conditions as bad flooring, wet floors, poorly lighted steps, or, in the case of outdoor accidents, weather-related or hidden hazards. An icy patch outside a door or a crack or pothole can be the cause of a slip and fall in a parking lot, for instance. A raised or hazardous sidewalk outside a business or a home may also cause a trip and fall.
All slip and fall accidents are covered by negligence law and deal with the concept of premises liability. Property owners have a “duty of care” to see that their property is safe. This includes insuring that the building has no structural defects that could cause an accident, both inside and out. In some states the property owner may also have a duty to reduce problem areas caused by weather. Structural defects can include: loose floor mats, rugs, or tiles; water on the floor; poorly lit stairs or steps; cracks or holes in sidewalks or parking lots. Weather-related hazards may include standing water and icy spots. A plaintiff or claimant also has a duty to exercise reasonable care, so if any action of yours contributed to the accident, you may share in the negligence.
If you experience a slip and fall accident, you should try to determine what made you fall and if it could have been anticipated and prevented. If anyone saw you fall, be sure you get the names and addresses of all witnesses. Try to note the conditions in the area – was the lighting poor, was there some substance that made you slip. If you did slip because of something on the floor, try to obtain a sample. Also, try to get pictures of the area. Report any such accident to the manager or owner and insist that they make a record of it. You should try to gather as much of this information as possible as soon after the accident as possible.
It is your responsibility to prove that a hazard existed and that it was the cause of your accident.