For informational purposes only. Always consult an attorney to obtain competent legal advice.
Premises Liability and
Slip & Fall Claims
Slip & Fall Accidents:
A fall at a retail store or other property that was caused by some defect and that results in injuries could be the basis of a "slip and fall" claim. Ordinarily, the defect must be "latent", meaning that it was not apparent. However, even an obvious defect can give rise to liability if the defect was one that the injured person could not reasonably avoid.
A slip and fall claim involves "premises liability" because the claim is against the landowner and/or owner of the business due to a defect that caused the fall.
Ordinarily, the insurance company defending such claims will claim that the injured party is responsible for his or her own injuries because the fall was a result of their own carelessness. It is the role of a personal injury lawyer to refute all such defenses raised.
The footwear that a person was wearing when a fall occurred is often a crucial fact in a slip and fall claim. If the footwear was not appropriate -- for example, a woman wearing high heels in an unpaved area, or a man wearing dress shoes while crossing an icy parking lot -- then the slip and fall claim can be weak. If, however, the footwear was appropriate, and the defect was hidden, and the injured person was being careful when the fall occurred, then the claim may be strong. It is often a good idea to save the footwear in a sealed plastic bag until such time as the attorney has an opportunity to take pictures.
Snow & Ice Falls:
An example of a defect that may have been both obvious and unavoidable is when a property owner allows snow and ice to accumulate on a common driveway of an apartment complex, leaving no reasonable choice for a tenant but to walk over the snow and ice. In such a case, if the tenant falls and is injured, the landlord may not have a defense that the dangerous condition was obvious because the tenant had no other reasonable alternative but to traverse the snow and ice covered driveway.
Falls on escalators can cause severe injuries due to metal "teeth" along the edge of each step. Escalators may be defective, improperly maintained, poorly lit, or the surrounding area of the escalator may not be maintained properly.
The R.I. Department of Labor & Training has jurisdiction over investigations of injuries from falls occurring on escalators.