Slipping and falling at a place that should be properly maintained can lead to serious injuries. Figuring out how things can be made right, though, might be a more involved process. Many potential defendants are quick to dismiss falls as no big deal, but an injured hip, broken wrist, or a cracked skull can lead to years of suffering. If you feel it's time to hire a slip and fall lawyer, bear the following issues in mind as you move forward.
Understanding the Duty of Care
A core legal principle that supports what we think of as the basic slip and fall claim is the duty of care. Under American law, every person, company and organization has an obligation to take reasonable care to not put others at risk. As pertains to folks slipping and falling, this includes making sure that conditions that can be remedied with some level of expected care, such as dealing with ice on sidewalks or water in entryways, is in fact taken. When people go to the store, for example, society expects staff members to make an effort to clean up spills in order to keep customers from getting hurt.
The level of responsibility to take care of a property goes up the longer a problem is ignored. If a blizzard is in progress, it's hard, though not impossible, to hold a shop owner responsible for there being snow on the sidewalk as two inches of snow is still falling every hour. Conversely, if a landlord has received reports for years about condensation in the stairway of an apartment complex, that's going to be met with justified anger if the case ever ends up in front of a judge. Notably, a finding of partial responsibility is possible.
While a small subset of cases, there are times when a slip and fall attorney ends up pursuing something closer to a product liability claim than a personal injury case. These occur when a property owner installed something, such as a handrail, in good faith expecting it to satisfy the duty of care. In these instances, a slip and fall lawyer may end up going after the manufacturer of the thing that failed rather than the owner of the property. The duty of care, under these circumstances, lies with the manufacturer, who has a duty to put a safe and fully tested product on the market.
For more information, talk to a slip and fall attorney.