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Danny Feldman
Danny Feldman
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If I slip or trip and fall can I sue?

2 comments

Every time someone falls down, people make jokes that the injured person will end up "owning the place." What does the law say about a premise owner’s potential liability if someone falls on your property?

In Alabama, and a few other states, it depends on the right, or lack thereof, that the person who fell had to be on the property. For example, the duty of a premise owner to someone who is trespassing on their property is very, very low. On the other hand, if someone is a "business invitee" – that is, if someone is on the property to benefit the property owner (like a customer of the store or restaurant) then the premise owner has a higher duty. However, that duty basically is not to be negligent – or in other words, to act as a reasonably safe business owner would act in similar circumstances.

Let’s take a look at a couple of examples. Say you visit Wal-Mart or any store for that matter and another customer walking directly in front of tosses the proverbial banana peel. With your next step, you slip on it and break your neck. Can you sue Wal-Mart? Sure. Will you win? Absolutely not. You must show more than the fact that you fell on the store’s premises and that you got hurt. You must show that the store was negligent. In the example above – what did the store do that was unreasonable? Not a thing. So, while you may have a claim against the person that tossed the peel (good luck recovering on that, unless the person happens to be Donald Trump or someone else of personal means) you do not have a claim against the store.

Let’s vary the facts a bit. The same customer tosses the banana peel 8 hours before you enter the store. A manager sees it 15 minutes later and instructs an employee to clean it up. The employee gets distracted and does not do it. A couple of hours go by and the manager sees the peel again. He means to get on the employee for not picking up the peel, but he too gets distracted. Another couple of hours go by. Several other managers and employees see the peel, but do not remove it. You don’t see the peel; slip and fall and break your neck. Negligence? Maybe – it’ll depend on what the jury thinks. Was it reasonable for the store to leave the peel on its floor for 8 hours? Does the peel constitute a dangerous or hazardous condition? What about the customer – shouldn’t he have seen and avoided the peel?

In my next blog, I’ll address in more detail some of these issues and "affirmative defenses" So, the answer to the question is "yes" – if you fall you can sue, however, whether your lawsuit has any reasonable chance of success is another matter entirely.




2 Comments

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  1. Di Eshleman says:
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    I slip and fell at Rite aide cause a used dryer sheet was left on the floor and of course it blended in with the floor and I didn’t see it. I had already had a sore back and was going to go to a ortho prior to this but after the accident I had shooting pains down my hip, butt and leg, my knee and ankle swelled up severly and was considered sprained for many months, I also ended up having a herinated disc and having surgery done within a month of the fall. I have a Attorney who seems not to be so interested cause I had prior back problemms, but I did not have shooting pains down my hips, butt or legs prior to the fall. To this day I still have to wear a air brace on my ankle 70% of the time, and the last time I spoke with my attorney (which was back in the beginning of May) he said he was giving the case to someone eles. I’ve never heard from anyone eles. I am on SSD due to 3 level cervical fusion and PTSD, which has nothing to do with this fall. If this is caught on viedo they will see it was the store’s fault. I’ve gone in the store since and now look down all the time and there is paper and garbage on the floor. Since this is a public buliding I believe the walk ways should be clear and swepted. Can you please give me some advise as to what you would do in my case? Thank You, Ms. Eshleman

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    Ms. Eshleman: Sounds as if you are frustrated by a lack of communication with your attorney. Whenever people complain about their attorneys to me, I always encourage them to call and/or email and/or write their attorney and request a face to face meeting with their attorney to review case status, strategy going foward etc. While no attorney has the time to sit down with every client and talk about the case on a daily or weekly basis, you are entitled to reasonable updates. Sounds like you have some questions that you’d like addressed and I encourage you to give your attorney an opportunity to answer your questions and address your concerns.

    Of course, based on your statement that your case is being turned over to someone else, your attorney may not think you have much of a case, but you should have the opprtunity to discuss this with him as well. Good luck to you.