Slip & Fall

Generally, “slip and fall” accidents occur when 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 can be caused by many different conditions, such as faulty construction, wet floors, or poor lighting. Weather-related conditions, such as icy patches, can also be the cause of a slip and fall injury. Slip and fall injuries are referred to in the law as “premises liability” cases.

In North Carolina, landowners have a duty to exercise reasonable care in the maintenance of their premises for the protection of lawful visitors. Reasonable care requires that a landowner not unnecessarily expose a lawful visitor to danger and give warning of hidden hazards of which the landowner has express or implied knowledge. The landowner generally is not liable, however, if lawful visitors are exposed to open and obviously dangerous conditions, or where the visitor has equal knowledge regarding the existence of a dangerous condition. Although the rules are somewhat different, premises liability also extends to state and local governments, which have a responsibility to maintain roadways and sidewalks free of hazardous conditions.

Just because you are injured on the property of another does not mean you have a valid claim. To make out a case of premises liability, you have to show that you were injured by a defect or condition on the premises, that you were a lawful visitor, and that your injuries were proximately caused by a failure to keep in a reasonably safe condition those portions of the premises that visitors may be expected to use, or by a failure to warn of hidden perils or unsafe conditions known or discoverable by reasonable inspection.

A lawful visitor, sometimes referred to as an invitee, is one who goes onto the property of another by the express or implied invitation of the owner or occupier for their mutual benefit (such as a store customer or theater patron). What is a reasonably safe condition depends upon the uses which the landowner should anticipate invitees will make of the premises. For example, a grocery store owner has a duty to keep the aisles clean and dry, but may not be responsible if a shopper is injured by a falling display case because he or she carelessly climbed up the display to look for a product.

If you are seriously injured in a slip and fall accident, you should try to determine what made you fall and whether it could have been anticipated and prevented. Be sure to get the names, addresses and telephone numbers of anyone who witnessed the fall. Try to note the conditions in the area at the time of the fall, such as whether there was a substance on the floor that made you slip or whether there was bad lighting. Always take pictures of your injuries and, if possible, get pictures of the area where you fell. Also, be sure to report the injury to the owner or manager of the premises, so that a record of the accident will exist. All of these make it easier to litigate a successful premises liability claim.

Besides slip and fall accidents, there are many other types of injuries that can occur on the property of another, such as injuries caused by structural defects (collapsed decks, falling debris, etc.). Hodges Coxe & Potter, LLP has the experience and resources to investigate and prosecute these often difficult claims and help you achieve the best results to compensate you for your injuries.

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