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Who's to blame for a slip and fall accident?

Accidents happen. Car accidents, spills, falls, the list goes on. But some accidents can be avoided. Consider a customer who slips and falls while grocery shopping. Was there a spill that was not cleaned up prior to the fall? Was there a worker mopping the floors without a sign to warn the customer of potentially slippery conditions? There are many things to consider when addressing a potential premises liability claim.

The first thing that must be considered is the status of the visitor. Was the person who fell invited onto the property, like the customer who fell while grocery shopping as we discussed earlier? If so, the visitor is considered an invitee. If the visitor enters the property for his or her own purpose, such as a salesperson going door to door, the person is considered a licensee. A social guest is a visitor who is welcomed to the property by the landowner, like a friend visiting for a barbeque. Last, and most obvious, is an unwelcome guest, called a trespasser, entering private property without a right to do so. In cases of trespassers and licensees, there does not need to be any "implied promise that reasonable care has been made" to the person on the property.

If an injury were to occur on the property, factors that will be considered include the circumstances of the visitor entering the property (as we just discussed), how the property was being used, whether the accident or injury could have been foreseen, and whether it was reasonable for the property owner to repair or inform someone of the dangerous condition.

Things can get a bit tricky with trespassers, as property owners may still be held liable if it can be determined that a trespasser may visit the property and no reasonable warning was given.

As you can see, determining liability with regards to negligent property owners can get complex. If you have been the victim of an accident, you may want to seek professional help to determine whether you are entitled to compensation for your injuries.

Source: findlaw.com, "Premises Liability: Who Is Responsible?" Accessed Sept. 8, 2015

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Michael J. Gaffney, Attorney at Law
1164 Victory Blvd.
Staten Island, NY 10301

Phone: 347-286-1937
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