I Slipped and Fell. Do I Have a Case Against the Property Owner?
Posted on behalf of Phillips Law Group on Feb 05, 2021 in Personal Injury
Slip and fall accidents are often caused by hazardous conditions or obstacles that should have been fixed. At the very least, property owners should give visitors a warning about the hazard to help them avoid getting hurt.
Property owners are obligated to ensure the safety of guests and visitors on their premises and may be held liable for slip and fall accidents that occur because of their negligence.
Below, learn more about these types of cases, including how liability may be established and common causes of slip and fall accidents. If you have any questions after a slip and fall accident, you should strongly consider calling a Phoenix-based slip and fall lawyer from our firm. The initial consultation is free and there is no obligation to hire our firm.
Do I Have a Valid Claim?
While each case is unique, there are generally a few things you and your lawyer must prove to have a valid case against the property owner, including:
- The property owner created the hazardous condition, either through action or inaction.
- The property owner knew the condition existed but neglected to correct it.
- The condition existed for long enough that the property owner should have known of the hazard’s existence and corrected it.
If you were not properly warned that a dangerous condition existed on the property that might cause harm, the property owner could be held liable. A warning could come in the form of a sign depicting the potential danger or preventative measures that would protect visitors and guests from the hazard, such as caution tape to rope off the area.
However, it is difficult to validate a slip and fall claim. Even if you can prove a property owner had time to remedy a condition, the owner may say you should have known it was dangerous. That is why it is so important to work with an experienced attorney.
However, if you are considering a claim, you must act quickly. Arizona has a two-year statute of limitations for personal injury victims to take legal action against the at-fault party. If you wait to file a claim outside of the deadline, you forfeit your chance to seek damages through a lawsuit.
Proving Your Legal Status After a Slip and Fall Accident
The first step in proving liability for an Arizona slip and fall accident is proving the person who was injured on someone else's property should have been protected from danger. Essentially there are invitees, licensees and trespassers.
An invitee is someone who enters the property of another for the purpose of conducting business. A licensee is someone who enters the property of another for the purpose of a social gathering. Basically, anyone who enters the property of another and does so for these purposes will generally be legally protected from danger and harm suffered due to a dangerous condition that was not obvious. A trespasser is someone who has no legal right to be on the property. Property owners do not have much of any legal obligations to trespassers.
Accidents on Private Property
A slip and fall accident can occur for several reasons. While almost any dangerous condition can be the center of such a legal claim, one of the most common problems that leads to a slip and fall is the floor conditions on the property.
People who enter a property tend to assume that the surface on which they are walking is safe. Therefore, few people would tend to notice that a floor is wet and therefore slippery, and few people would ever step lightly and carefully on a floor with the assumption or even the suspicion that they will fall through the floorboards. When people are not aware of a dangerous condition, they are not prepared to deal with it and therefore tend to suffer serious injuries.
Some other examples of property neglect that may lead to slip and fall accidents include, but are not limited to:
- Wet surfaces
- Uneven surfaces or floors
- Cracked or broken sidewalks
- Failing to provide barriers from unsafe conditions
- Poor lighting
- Unsafe stairwells
- Unmarked steps
- Torn, broken or raised areas of carpet
Private property owners are also required to provide guests and visitors with adequate warning about dangerous conditions. The warning should accurately describe the condition and the potential harm that may occur if a guest or visitor ignores the warning. The warning should also be easily visible to anyone in the vicinity.
This is a common and reasonable expectation of invitees and licensees - that those responsible for the upkeep of a property will take basic steps to provide warnings if conditions are dangerous.
Accidents on Residential Property
There may be instances in which people are injured in a slip and fall accident on residential property. For example, this could happen to a tenant in an apartment. The landlord could potentially be held liable based on the tenant-landlord contract, which is likely to establish the party responsible for maintaining or controlling specific parts of the property.
If you were injured on residential property covered by a tenant-landlord contract, there are certain things you would need to prove to hold the property owner liable:
- The landlord had established control over the hazardous condition that caused the slip and fall accident.
- Repairing the condition would not have been difficult or impose an unreasonable financial burden on the landlord.
- The hazardous condition was likely to have caused a serious injury after being neglected.
- The landlord’s failure to attempt to remedy the hazardous condition led to the slip and fall accident.
However, a landlord must be properly warned that a dangerous condition exists within his or her established domain. If a tenant is injured after fulfilling this obligation, the property owner could potentially be held liable for damages.
Accidents on Government Property
If you were injured in a slip and fall accident on government property, you might be able to hold the government entity that controls the premises liable.
Claims filed against a government entity often involve hazardous conditions that were neglected by federal, state or city employees.
For example, you may be injured after tripping and falling over a cracked sidewalk outside of a government building. The sidewalk is located on a property owned and maintained by the government, which is subject to the same standards of liability as owners of private property.
However, filing a claim against a government entity can be difficult and requires you to follow a different process from that of a personal injury claim brought against an individual or private entity.
If you are filing a claim against a government entity in Arizona, like the City of Phoenix, you must first file a notice of claim before filing a lawsuit.
A notice of claim provides the city with a warning of your intentions to file a lawsuit and must specifically detail the nature of your claim.
These are the requirements for filing a notice of claim in the City of Phoenix:
- You must state sufficient facts that support your claim against the city and provide insight as to why you are filing a claim.
- You must serve the notice of claim in person to a city employee who can accept service for the city.
- You must state a specific amount of money that you will accept to settle your claim. You are also required to provide a detailed explanation as to how you came up with the monetary value of your settlement.
A notice of claim must be filed and served to the proper individual within 180 days after you have suffered an injury. If you wait to serve your notice of claim after the 180-day deadline, your claim will be denied.
The City of Phoenix is then given 60 days to determine if it is willing to accept or deny your claim for a settlement. If your claim is denied, you may file a lawsuit.
Legal Help for Slip and Fall Accident Victims
Property owners have an obligation to maintain their premises for the safety of others. If you or someone you love was injured because a property owner neglected his or her duty, you may have legal options.
Phillips Law Group is dedicated to helping victims of negligence recover from their injuries by holding the at-fault party responsible for his or her actions. We can discuss your potential slip and fall claim in a free consultation. If you have a case and hire our firm, we are prepared to pursue maximum compensation.
Do not hesitate to contact us for qualified legal help. Our clients are never charged any upfront legal fees and you only pay us if we recover compensation for your claim.
Call us at 1-800-706-3000 to schedule a free legal consultation.