New York City Personal Injury Law Blog

Determining Fault in Slip and Fall Cases  

Posted on Mar 30, 2015 in Slip and Fall

A woman falls down by slipping on black ice in the parking lot, suffers a serious femur fracture, and the property owner turns around and says that it is the woman’s fault and he is not to blame. This has happened and does happen all of the time. And in some cases, the parking lot owner has a strong point to make!

Many Slip and Fall Cases during the Wintertime

In slip and fall cases, only after determining the culprit, you can take a legal recourse

In slip and fall cases, only after determining the culprit can you take a legal course of action.

You will find many slip and fall cases on snow and ice, especially during the wintertime. In this particular case, a woman living in a condo development was going from her home to the parking lot to get into her car. As she is approaching her car, she does not realize that there is a whole patch of black ice since it looks like regular asphalt. She slips on this ice and suffers a massive fracture in her femur, which incidentally is the biggest bone in the body. This bone connects the hip to the knee.

Due to her fall, she had to be rushed to the hospital, where she needed corrective surgery with internal hardware to hold the bones in place. She had to be in the hospital for a long time and had to undergo rehabilitative care and recuperation. What is interesting is that when she submitted a lawsuit against the property the owner refused to accept blame, and said the woman did not see where she was going. Since she was not watching where she was walking, she is responsible for her injuries.

Who was at Fault or Partially at Fault

In slip and fall cases it is important to determine:

  • If the person who is injured was partially responsible for their fall
  • What type of shoes was the injured person wearing
  • Was the victim wearing any eyeglasses
  • Did the victim have a hearing problem
  • Was the victim in that location before, where the slip and fall happened

All these factors are critical to understand whether the victim was familiar with the area, and whether he or she could have contributed to the injuries.

The woman in question had nothing to do with causing or contributing to her injuries. A couple of days earlier before the incident there was a massive snow storm in the area, and the owner had cleared off the snow and piled it on top of the hill next to the parking lot. The next day when it was warm weather, the snow started to melt, and the runoff reached the parking lot. At night, this water froze and created the black ice.

Severe Property Owner Miscalculation

In this example, what the property owner failed to do was to put the discarded snow in the correct position or location, which would have been the bottom of the hill and not at the top. Not only was this a mistake of the property owner, but he also failed to salt and sand the parking lot after the snow piling was done. The fault of the property owner could be clearly seen here, and the jury determined that property owner was responsible for the accident and awarded compensation to the victim.

It is important to determine fault in slip and fall cases to be able to claim damages.

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