What is Personal Injury?
I do virtually every kind of personal injury law. Feel free to call, text, or email me for a complementary conversation about your personal injury matter or any other legal issue you'd like to discuss.
PREMISES LIABILITY / PERSONAL INJURY / WRONGFUL DEATH
"Better slip with foot than tongue." -- Benjamin Franklin
I am the first one to admire Benjamin Franklin, and love using his quotes. The person who actually "slip[s] with foot", however, probably wished his tongue had slipped instead of his foot.
So what happens when you slip or have another accident and get hurt, the kind of case that lawyers call "slip-and-falls"? Your first reaction will undoubtedly be to seek medical help. Your second may be to wonder whether you can sue anyone. What's the answer? Well.... As so much in law, and in life, the answer is that it depends.
Whose fault was it?
First of all it depends on whose fault the accident was. Were you talking on the phone, or running after a child, or doing anything else that kept you from looking where you were going? Did you fail to take proper precautions yourself, such as wearing 4" heels instead of flat boots when you knew the ground would be icy? Were both your hands carrying big shopping bags so you couldn't hold onto the railings? If that is the case, your own behavior may be deemed "contributorily negligent" to the accident, and the fault may be all or partially yours, unless....
Was there a duty of care, and was that duty neglected?
Did someone or some entity have a duty of care and neglected to fulfill that duty? For example, even though you were indeed on the phone and not paying attention to where you were walking, did the landlord (let's use him as an example) leave a big bucket of dirty water in a narrow, poorly lit hallway where people did not expect anything to be in their way? Was it an icy day and your landlord failed to strew salt on the outdoor stairs, and you slipped and wrenched your back? Or did the landscape company leave a big hole in your lawn covered with leaves that your foot stepped into and broke? Did the shopping center wash the floor and fail to post a caution sign about the slippery tiles? Did your housing complex fail to repair outdoor lights after repeated warnings, providing ample opportunity for theft, assault, and other crimes? Did the supermarket let the banana peel lie on the floor well after it knew of the danger, or was the innocent banana peel lying there, pristine and un-stepped on, for a few moments while its employee rushed to clean it up? These cases often turn on a hairpin, and a factor such as the time elapsed between the owner's awareness of the dangerous situation and its trying to remedy it may make all the difference to the case.
Premises Liability is a complicated, fact-driven area of the law.
This part of tort law is known as "premises liability", and is a more complicated part of the law than it might seem to be. First of all, the owner or operator of the premises has to have a duty of care -- the duty to keep the premises safe and well maintained -- to people who can reasonably be expected to come onto its premises. Using a landlord as an example, the landlord should reasonably expect that its tenants will have guests visiting who may be injured by an unsafe condition, and therefore the landlord has a duty of care not only to its tenants but also to its tenants' guests, repairmen, deliverers of goods, etc. The duty of care therefore extends not only to persons with whom the premises owner has a contractual relationship, but also to persons -- and often to animals, as well -- who may reasonably be thought of as being within the sphere of care that the premises owner must take into consideration.
This area of tort law is more complicated than it might seem. Whether you are the premises owner yourself, or the person who was injured, or that person's survivor(s) if s/he died due to the accident (in which cause you would sue for what is known as "wrongful death"), the best course is to consult an attorney.
I will be happy to provide an initial complimentary discussion with you to go over the facts and give you my opinion as to whether or not you may be liable, if you are the owner of manager of the premises, or should seek compensation from an insurer or property owner, if you are the injured party.