Homeowners and businesses owe their guests a duty of care to keep their premises safe from potential slips, trips, and falls. This of course does not mean that homeowners and businesses are liable for any slip, trip, or fall that occurs on their property, it just means that they are required to keep their properties well maintained and they need to remedy dangerous conditions that they know about or should know about.
Ice and snow accumulated in walkways and entryways are a common cause of slips and falls. Homeowners and businesses have a duty to remedy those conditions and they are also usually responsible for public sidewalks on their properties.
Unexpected obstructions in pathways and walkways such as cords, wiring, equipment, and items to be stocked sitting in aisles can cause trips and falls.
Poor lighting can lead to slips, trips, and falls when guests are not able to see a dangerous condition that they would otherwise be able to avoid with proper lighting.
Poorly maintained floors such as ripped carpeting, loose/broken wood floor planks, or chipped/broken tiles.
Poorly maintained and dangerous stairs, railings, and balconies can cause trips and falls.
Failure to notify guests of dangerous conditions such as recently mopped and slippery floors.
Spills on floors that the owner knew about or should have known about that cause a guest to slip and fall.
Broken sidewalks and pavement that have not been remedied and no notice of the dangerous condition given to guests causing trips and falls.
Common defenses to slip and fall cases include the following:
Comparative fault is a regular defense asserted by defendants who claim that the plaintiff was also at fault because he or she was negligent in not noticing and avoiding a danger or taking an unreasonable risk such as seeing a patch of ice and attempting to walk across it anyway. In comparative fault cases, fault will be apportioned between the plaintiff and defendant and the plaintiff will only be compensated if he or she is not more to blame than the defendant. The plaintiff's compensation will be reduced by his or her share of fault. For example, if the plaintiff sustained $100,000 in injuries and damages and was found to be 25% at fault, plaintiff's recovery would be reduced by 25% to $75,000.
Choice of ways is argued when the defendant claims that there was an alternative route to reach the destination yet the plaintiff chose to take the dangerous path anyway.
A notice defense is raised when the defendant had put the plaintiff on notice of the dangerous condition that should have caused them to avoid the danger such as a sign alerting the plaintiff to a wet floor that he or she slipped and fell on.
A statute of limitations defense is raised if an accident occurred too long ago and the applicable law precludes the plaintiff from bringing the claim.