Most of us have slipped and fallen at some point in our lives. Often, these accidents occur because of untied shoelaces, distractions, or plain clumsiness. Others may be due to a hazardous condition on someone else's property but do not result in a serious injury. Intuitively, people generally understand that neither of these situations justifies pursuing a claim. But when is a slip and fall legally actionable?
Duty, Breach, Causation, and Damages
To understand when you can file a claim after a slip and fall, a crash course in tort law is illustrative. For victims of any type of accident to recover, the accident must have been someone else's fault – and in law, fault is determined by negligence. There are four “elements” that constitute negligence, which are as follows:
- Duty – The victim must show that the defendant showed him or her a duty of care.
- Breach – The victim must show that the defendant breached that duty (i.e., failed to use the degree of care a reasonable person would have used in the same circumstances).
- Causation – The victim must show that the defendant's breach caused the accident.
- Damages – The victim must have suffered some type of injury as a result of the accident.
So, in a slip and fall case, all four of these elements must exist for a slip and fall to be legally actionable. It is illustrative to consider a hypothetical slip and fall that occurs in a grocery store because of freshly waxed floors that are not marked with hazard signs that resulted in a broken elbow. Store operators who open their doors to the general public owe their visitors the duty to keep their premises in a reasonably safe condition. Generally speaking, a reasonable store operator would alert customers to the existence of a slippery floor, so failing to do so would be a breach of that duty. If the fall would not have occurred but for the slippery floor, it can be said that the breach caused the accident, and the pain and medical expenses associated with a broken elbow certainly resulted in damages for the defendant.
Of course, there are many other ways a slip and fall accident can occur that would entitle a victim to compensation; here in Connecticut, many slip and fall accidents occur as a result of someone’s failure to plow or shovel snow or properly sand and salt. It is advisable for anyone hurt in a fall-down case to have a lawyer review his or her case as soon as possible.
Contact Leighton, Katz & Drapeau Today to Speak with a Hartford, Connecticut, Personal Injury Attorney
If you have been injured in a slip and fall accident, you should speak to a lawyer as soon as you can. To schedule a free consultation with one of our lawyers, call Leighton, Katz & Drapeau today at 860-875-7000 or contact us online.