How Do You Prove a Slip and Fall?

Elderly man slipping down snow-covered stairs

Slip and falls get a bad reputation, but they’re one of the most serious and most common kinds of premises liability cases we see, especially during winter in Northern Nevada. But while slip and falls are common, proving that they are a case of premises liability can be difficult. To help illustrate this issue, we need to look at the elements of premises liability and how the injured can prove a slip and fall.

The Elements of Premises Liability

When pursuing a premises liability claim, there are certain elements you and your attorney need to demonstrate to hold the property owner accountable for their negligence. These three elements are:

  • The property had a hazardous condition.
  • The property owner (or their employees) created the hazard, knew about the hazard, or reasonably should have known about the hazard, and failed to take reasonable steps to remedy the hazard.
  • The plaintiff suffered an injury because of the hazard.

Determining premises liability can be a little complicated, so let’s take a look at some reasonable examples to help illustrate when the property owner is responsible for the damages.

Practical Examples

In our first example, a hotel guest spills ice by the vending machines. They don’t tell anyone and there’s no camera watching the place where it occurred. The next guest to use the machines slips on the melted ice, falls, and hits their head.

In this case, the first and third elements of premises liability were clearly met, but the second element requires further investigation. The investigation would include:

  • Whether the ice was on the floor long enough that a reasonable business should have known about it with enough time to do something about it.
  • Whether the business conducted periodic inspections of the flooring which is reasonable in the area where the slip and fall occurred;
  • Whether the ice was in a place which there is a recurrent risk of the substance on the floor and the business did not take reasonable precautions (such as floor mats, etc…) to mitigate the reoccurring risk.

In our second example, the ice machine is producing more ice than desired. Whenever someone uses it, the machine does not stop and extra ice falls onto the floor. Management is aware of this problem but is waiting to have the machine fixed.

If a guest slipped on the melted ice in our second example, they would have strong standing in a premises liability claim (and perhaps a claim against the ice machine manufacturer) even though the event causing the injury (slipping on ice in a hotel vending area) is the same.

Making Your Case

As you can see, this can get complicated, especially when it comes to determining whether the property owner was informed about the problem or if they reasonably should have known about it. In our above examples, both things can be true: another hotel guest could spill ice that goes unreported, and, simultaneously, the machine itself causes ice to fall on the floor. The more factors there are in a case, the more complex it becomes. That’s where your attorney comes in.

When an accident occurs, it is difficult to gather all of the liability issues that our attorneys deal with daily. Unless you reported the hazard yourself, you may not know whether the property owners knew of the hazard. Your attorney can gather and review all of the available evidence and witness testimony.

With more evidence, your attorney will develop a broader picture of the circumstances leading up to your injury. In many cases, gathering this evidence and having an attorney present can be the difference between recovering for your injuries or not.

Injury Lawyers at Viloria, Oliphant, Oster & Aman L.L.P. Help

If you have been injured on someone’s property, you need a personal injury lawyer. The attorneys at Viloria, Oliphant, Oster & Aman L.L.P. can help you understand your legal rights and the steps you may take to pursue maximum compensation. We have successfully recovered millions of dollars in damages for our clients. Talk to us, and we can help you explore your options. Call us today at (775) 227-2280 to schedule a free case consultation or contact our office through our website.

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