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Few things can wreck your day quite like falling down and seriously hurting yourself can. It always seems to catch you at the worst possible moment and when you least expect it.

“I was having such a good day and then…”

One minute everything is fine; you’re happy, smiling, talking, getting things done and otherwise having a productive day. The next thing you know; WHAM! You’re laying flat on your back, sprawled out on your face or lying in a crumpled heap on the ground, seriously injured, wracked with pain and wondering how drastically your life just changed – possibly forever.

Falling down can be embarrassing, painful and humiliating, but in a larger sense, this type of accident is responsible for a staggering array of injuries, disabilities and death each year, ranging from simple bumps and bruises, to soft tissue injuries like sprains, tendon and ligament damage and cracked all the way up to broken and dislocated bones, neck injuries, back injuries, spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, permanent disabilities and sometimes even death.

The Lynchpin of Liability

Contrary to popular belief, not all slips, trips, stumbles and falls are eligible for a lawsuit. It all depends on the circumstances; who did or didn’t do something, who should or shouldn’t have done something, who did or didn’t have a duty to do something and who is responsible for the property on which the accident occurred are just a couple of the factors that must be considered. To be eligible for a settlement, among other things a negligent act must have occurred, a serious injury must have been caused by said negligent act and a negligent breach of duty must be proven.

Negligence is often defined as failure to act in a manner that a reasonable person would have acted to prevent the accident from occurring. Oftentimes, a defendant is found liable after it is proven they knew, or should have known, a dangerous condition existed for a period of time but failed to act in a way that could have resolved the condition.

Plaintiffs who seek for recovery can do so through compensatory damages for medical expenses, rehabilitation and/or physical therapy expenses, lost past and future wages, and pain and suffering. These factors add to how much the total value of the claim will be. However, in cases against government entities for slip and fall accidents on public federal properties and the like, recovery damages are often limited, averaging below $100,000.

Preconceived Notions About “Slip and Fall” Litigation

Slip and Fall Lawsuits

With hundreds of thousands of accidents each year, lawsuits are commonplace and tens of billions of dollars at stake. Slip and fall injuries are notorious with defense attorneys and insurance companies because of the potential for abuses by greedy, unscrupulous lawyers and plaintiffs. For this reason, many defense attorneys tend to view this type of litigation with a certain degree of frivolity “until proven otherwise”. As a result, most cases are scrutinized mercilessly and can take a long time to settle or go to trial.

Proving Negligence

Plaintiffs must prove that negligence took place in the slip and fall accident, except for cases of intentional conduct by the defendant. In cases of slip and fall accidents, negligence is identified as the failure to act in a reasonable manner under the given circumstance. Whatever the slip and fall case may entail, whoever is responsible for the property (property owners, or store employees or managers for accidents that occur in stores, government entity in the cases of public property) can be held liable for damages or injuries is they fail to repair or fix a known dangerous condition, or if they should have known of the hazardous conditions.

A good example of acting in a reasonable manner is when a store employee places warning signs for wet floors. If a customer slips and falls due to the wet floor that is lacking a warning sign, then the store can be held liable for negligence. Defendants can still be held liable for injuries even if they had warned the victims of these accidents about potential injuries. This is especially applicable in cases of owners of homes or public stores and construction workers.

Usually, the determining factor for negligence is on the knowledge of the negligent party. If the defendant knew or was aware of the dangerous conditions that were present on the property, then he may possibly be held liable for the accident. Through the discovery process of a case, a plaintiff is able to find out whether or not the defendant was aware of the hazardous conditions on the property.

Any kind of information that is relevant to a slip and fall accident should be obtained by the plaintiff, these include records, log sheets, surveillance videos, and depositions. Testimonies from depositions can greatly make or break any case that is related to negligence. The gathered information would greatly determine the degree of fault of the defendant, and figure out the circumstances that led or caused the accident to happen.

Plaintiffs should not be surprised when a defendant raises the issue of contributory negligence, which basically puts the plaintiff partially at fault for the accident due to carelessness in trying to avoid the dangers that were present on the property. On the other hand, plaintiffs who file for cases of slip and fall lawsuits can recover through compensatory damages such as medical expenses, lost past and future wages, and pain and suffering.


Slip and fall cases fall under the umbrella of personal injury law and are normally based on the rules of negligence and are initiated by people who have been injured by dangerous conditions on another entity’s property.

People do not necessarily have to slip in order to file a lawsuit. The term “slip” can refer to any kind of movement and injury to the victim due to hazardous conditions under the foot. Common causes include wet floor surfaces, food or product spillage, cracked sidewalks, objects on staircases, ice or snow, broken floor tiles, uneven steps, potholes, dim lighting and even missing handrails. Direct or indirect causes can contribute to the accident.

Property owners have a duty to maintain reasonably safe conditions in order to prevent injuries from occurring. However, people also have a duty to exercise care to prevent injuries and accidents from happening. Property owners are generally not held liable for injuries which could not have been reasonably foreseen or otherwise prevented.

Falling Accidents

Falling Accidents

Falling accidents can occur practically anywhere there are fall hazards, but these are different from the typical tripping or slipping accidents; these are genuine falling accidents from elevated surfaces which often result in very serious injuries and even death. Construction accidents often result from falling off scaffolding, ladders, roofs, buildings, vehicles, machinery and elevated working platforms.

Common homeowner accidents include falling off roofs, trees, ladders, balconies, shelving, furniture and falling down stairs are common examples of falling accidents. Fall accidents that are caused by equipment failure such as faulty scaffolding or defective ladders are normally prosecuted under product liability as opposed to premise liability.

Slip and Fall Accidents on Public Properties

In most cases of slip and fall lawsuits, the defendants, or the parties responsible for the accident is usually an employee, or a tenant, or even a homeowner who gave way for the hazard to exist and be exposed to others. In cases of slip and fall accidents in stores and the like, those who own or are in charge of supervising the site on which the accident had occurred may also be held responsible.

falling accidentsExamples of these are store or property managers or supervisors, the business owner, the landlord, or the owner of the property itself. Usually, one or more of these likely parties have liability insurance for the property that can also cover the damages done onto the victim.

Slip and fall accidents that occur on public property have special considerations. While the government could not be sued for claims of negligence in the past, modern times have now amended this rule through a statute which gives way for individuals to sue the government in certain and limited circumstances. When injuries qualify for suits against the government, plaintiffs would then be required to strictly conform to the notice requirements and time limits.

When slip and fall accidents happen on government property, it is important for victims to prove that the government was negligent in the maintenance and upkeep of the property. Government entities can only be held liable for slip and fall accidents if the government entity or employee was in some way negligent, and that the negligence had caused the accident to happen. It must also be proven that the government entity knew or should have reasonably known about the unsafe conditions present in the property.

Plaintiffs are also required to send notice to the proper government entity. If the notice was sent to the wrong government entity, then the case might be invalid. It is important to be cautious and prompt in filing lawsuits against government entities with regard to slip and fall lawsuits. Also, when plaintiffs file lawsuits against government entities, it is important to note that there are set limitations on how much plaintiff may be able to recover for damages. This will depend on the government entity that the plaintiff is suing, but usually, the limitations are under $100,000.

The Real Price of Negligence

In addition to often life-changing injuries suffered by the victims, here are just a few examples of recent verdicts that have been awarded for negligence:

$5.67 million verdict against a McDonalds restaurant
Federal jury awards a 59-year-old woman $5.67 million for injuries she suffered after she fell in a McDonalds restaurant in Hawaii
Florida man wins a $1.3 million verdict against Walmart
After falling on a sign that had been lying on the floor at a Walmart in Florida, a 41-year-old Port St. Lucie man was awarded nearly $1.3 million
Coca-Cola Bottling Company loses $1.5 million appeal
The Coca-Cola Bottling Company lost its appeal on a $1.5 million verdict that had been awarded to a woman who was seriously injured she she slipped on water that had leaked from one of its refrigerators
$2 million awarded for icy accident at Super 8 Motel
The victim received $2 million due to negligence by the motel’s general manager and owner
Woman awarded nearly $850K for her injuries
The victim was awarded $843,567 against the building owners after she fell on the stairs of a medical clinic in California
Walmart loses $10 million appeal
After slipping on grease and ice at a Walmart store in Greeley, Colorado, a woman had been awarded $15 million by a jury, but upon appeal, the jury’s verdict was upheld but the award was reduced to $10 million
Norwegian Cruise Line hit with $9.5 million verdict
A circuit court jury in Miami-Dade county awarded a British fitness instructor $9.5 million after falling in the spa of the Norwegian Crown
$870,467 slip-and-fall verdict
A Kash-N-Karry store in Tampa hit with a verdict of $870,467 after a customer slipped on a wet floor
$472,000 award against Ford dealership
A woman who slipped on diesel fuel at a Ford dealer in Half Moon Bay, California was just awarded $472,000 by a jury
Man wins $5.7 million verdict against New Jersey Lincoln Mercury dealer
Seaview Lincoln Mercury was ordered by a jury to pay $5.7 million to a customer who slipped on oil
Jury awards $400,000 after a Kroger store accident in Georgia
The victim said he sustained shoulder injuries after slipping on a puddle of spilled yogurt
$2.3 million in damages against Kroger
Kroger pays after a judge determined it destroyed and manipulated important video evidence involving an injured customer
McCandless woman awarded nearly $400,000 in K-Mart accident
Jury awards a McCandless woman $399,706 after she slipped on a freshly waxed floor at a K-Mart
Starbucks store in Vista, California hit with $7.5 million after admission of guilt
Witnesses at the scene claimed that a manager mopped the area and one of the store’s employees later apologized for failure to dry mop.

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