What Can I Do if Someone Slipped and Fell on My Property?

What should you do when someone slips and falls on your property? As a homeowner, you’re probably wondering whether you’re going to be liable for their injuries and recovery. However, just because someone falls on your property doesn’t mean you’re automatically liable.

While it’s always best to consult with a slip and fall attorney right away, read on for a general overview of how the law works in these cases.

Negligence and premises liability

Premises liability is a type of negligence claim, in which a plaintiff argues that the property owner or manager knew or should have known about a dangerous condition and failed to fix it or warn people, and the plaintiff was injured as a result.

Whether the person was invited onto your property—and for what purpose—affects your duty to that person. For example, if you invited a friend over to your home for dinner, they are a licensee. Your duty to them is to warn them about any potential dangers, like a broken front step, so they can avoid injury. If you warn them and they injure themselves anyway, you’re not liable—the law does not require you to remove the hazards, only to warn them about the danger.

If, however, you have invited people on your property for a business purpose, like opening a grocery store to customers, they are invitees. Property owners have a greater responsibility to invitees: they must remove the danger, not just warn them. If you slip on a puddle in a grocery store, the court will consider whether the property owner or manager knew or should have known about the danger. For example, if you spill your drink on the floor and immediately slip and fall, and no one is around, the owner probably wouldn’t have known or even could have known about the hazard.

Defenses to premises liability

There are several defenses to premises liability. Qualifying for these defenses will depend on the facts of your case.

First, you can argue that the hazard was “open and obvious.” This means that any reasonable person would have seen the hazard and avoided it. If you invited someone onto your property and they tripped over a clearly visible tree stump in broad daylight, you probably will not be held liable for that.

Second, you might argue that the person was trespassing. Property owners do not have a duty to trespassers on their property—so if someone was injured while uninvited, or in an area of your business not open to the public, they probably will not succeed in their lawsuit. However, this depends on whether you knew the trespassers were on your property or if you were aware that people frequently trespass in the area.

The rules about licensees, invitees and trespassers may greatly affect your case. Get in touch with Rosato Law Offices to schedule a consultation to discuss your slip and fall case with a qualified attorney. We can help you determine whether you’ll face liability and what your best defense may be.