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A sudden slip and fall in a public area or on someone’s property can lead to a high physical, financial, and emotional burden, with severe injuries, hefty medical bills, missed work days, and a drastic change in the quality of life. If you or a loved one were injured in a slip and fall accident, hold the property owner responsible. You might be eligible for compensation to cover present and future lost wages, medical bills, and pain and suffering. 

Types of Slips, Trips, and Falls

If your slip and fall accident resulted in an injury, don’t assume your clumsiness or the weather was the cause. Accidents are often due to property owners’ negligence. Sometimes, the property owners can’t do much about it. But, generally speaking, they are responsible for making their space easy to traverse.

Common slip and fall hazards include:

  • Leaks or spills on the floor 
  • Cracks, breaks, or holes in the sidewalk or pavement
  • Poor lighting
  • Items in or across the walkway
  • Dangerous or uneven stairs
  • Broken or missing handrails or railings
  • Wet, unmarked floors
  • Faulty elevators
  • Icy and snowy sidewalks
  • Loose handrails

Pursuing a Slip and Fall Case

Slip and fall injuries fall under the personal injury law called premises liability. Property owners are responsible for ensuring their premises—including private buildings, homes, restaurants, stores, or public parks—are safe by taking necessary actions to maintain their areas.

Determining if you have a valid slip and fall case requires a thorough review. A St. Paul slip and fall lawyer will provide a free consultation to evaluate your potential case, investigating:

  • If the defendant owns the property where the accident occurred
  • If the accident happened because the owner failed to take care of a known hazard
  • If the injured party had the legal right to be on the premises
  • If the owner attempted to fix the problem
  • If they posted warnings about this potential hazard
  • If they have a regular property maintenance and inspection schedule
  • The reason behind the danger (i.e., a torn rug caused by moved furniture)

They’ll also need to prove that if the owner properly corrected or repaired the hazardous conditions, your accident likely wouldn’t have occurred.

Proving a Slip and Fall Case 

Proving a slip and fall case is relatively straightforward. Your attorney will need to establish these two facets:

A Duty Was Violated. An action (or lack thereof) created a dangerous situation that led to the accident in question.

An Injury Occurred. Proof that the accident directly resulted in an injury. Whenever you’re involved in an accident, seek medical attention as quickly as possible while accurately and promptly documenting what happened.

The simple truth is accidents happen. If the property owner fulfilled their duties, they can’t be held responsible for a spot of bad luck. Conversely, even if they violated their duty, if you weren’t hurt, you’re not entitled to compensation.

Sometimes, an accident directly causes an injury, but other times, it’s more complicated. For example, how does someone with a pre-existing condition, such as chronic back pain, prove the fall worsened the condition? It takes an experienced attorney to make such a case successful. 

Woman who has fallen down the stairs, being helped up for an assistant.

A Slip and Fall Case Example

Here’s a common example in this part of the world. Minnesota winter brings dangerously snowy and icy conditions. Property owners have up to 24 hours after a winter event to make their place safer, including shoveling and laying down salt. If they don’t and you fall, you can potentially hold them responsible.

Or, suppose you’re at a grocery store, a place that actively invites customers to walk around. The store owner is responsible for ensuring customers aren’t entering dangerous situations. Shelves need to be carefully maintained, floors need to be clean and cared for, etc.

If your tangled shoelaces lead to a fall, the business owner is not at fault. However, if you slip in a puddle of water dripping from the ceiling or an incorrectly stacked item falls and hits you in the head, the property owner failed to live up to their duties. Your lawyer can then work to prove premises liability

Even in an accident, you need to determine whether the property owner did everything they could to prevent what happened or if your injury was the logical conclusion of events that would eventually happen based on actions taken or ignored.

Let’s return to the example of the puddle of water on the supermarket floor. The premises owner is indeed responsible for cleaning that up because it poses a potential hazard. But let’s say an employee roped off the aisle where the spill happened and put up signs. If you duck under the rope or ignore the posted warnings because you just needed one item out of that aisle, then who’s really at fault when you slip and fall in the puddle under these circumstances?

Those on the premises must use common sense, and heed posted warnings and requirements. Otherwise, they might take the burden of risk onto themselves, meaning they can’t hold the premises owner responsible.

Slip and Fall Statistics

According to the National Floor Safety Institute (NFSI), falls account for more than 8 million emergency room visits, representing the primary cause of visits (21.3%). Falls can be dangerous and costly. The CDC states that 1 out of 5 falls leads to severe results like head injuries or broken bones. And the Minnesota Department of Administration reports that slips and fall accidents are the second leading cause of injuries for most workers.

Roadblocks to Proving Premises Liability

Premises liability cases can be challenging. Here are a few roadblocks slip and fall lawyers encounter as they pursue justice for their clients.

Protections for Property Owners. The law protects property owners with several small loopholes. Property owners also have quite a few statute of limitation requirements. For example, you have a set period to file a claim, and they may still have time to fix the issue that caused the accident. If they were within that statute of limitations, you may not be able to seek a case against them.

Proving Due Care Given By the Injured Party. Wording plays a crucial role in premises liability cases. Your attorney needs to establish that the injured party was providing due care when they were injured.

Medical Coverage. One of the most challenging things for those injured in premises liability is the medical bills, especially if they don’t have health insurance to lean on.

A case settlement is the only way to cover medical bills if you don’t have health insurance. Unfortunately, that takes time while medical bills pile up. It can also stress the injured victim, pressuring them to take any settlement, even if it is much lower than they deserve.

Even if bills pile up, listen to the advice of your premises liability attorney. They can help recommend resources to ease your burden as they assemble your case. 

Common Slip and Fall Defenses 

Often, the negligent party will point out fundamental facts to ensure they are not liable for the fall: 

  • The injured party is entirely or partially at fault
  • The property owner wasn’t aware of the danger
  • The hazards were open and obvious; therefore, the victim should have taken the necessary precautions

Six-Year Limitation Period for a Minnesota Slip and Fall Case

You can only file a slip and fall claim in Minnesota under the timeframe provided in the statute of limitations. Minnesota’s statute of limitations provides that a slip and fall accident victim can file a lawsuit no later than six years from the accident date. File your claim within this timeframe to prevent it from being time-barred.

What to Do After a Slip and Fall Accident

Take critical steps to counter the effects of a severe injury, prioritizing your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. You can increase your chances of a fair settlement or establishing a robust claim by:

Getting adequate documentation is crucial to a successful case. Memories and testimonies are helpful, but official documents and photos showing the aftermath of an accident help illustrate what happened.

Contact a St. Paul Slip and Fall Attorney

Slips, trips, and falls happen, and premises liability cases can get complicated quickly. However, if someone’s negligence results in your injury, you deserve to have those injuries covered. Contact us today to see how Swor & Gatto will fight for you and the compensation you deserve.