Slip and Fall
A visitor at your home or business slips and falls, breaking a leg. Your commercial general liability policy or your homeowners policy will likely provide you with coverage, but are you at fault?
Just because someone slips and falls on your property does not make you at fault. That would be strict liability. Rather, in Tennessee, it must be shown that you owed a duty to the plaintiff, that your conduct fell below the standard of care, that an injury occurred, and you caused the injury. Wilson v. Weigel, Inc., E2019-00605-COA-R3-CV. Furthermore, specifically as to premises liability (a slip and fall), it must be shown that you had actual or constructive knowledge of the injury causing condition by showing either: 1) the condition was caused by you, or 2) the condition was such that the owner had actual or constructive knowledge of the condition prior to the accident.
If you spilled water on the floor, you created the dangerous condition and are likely liable for injuries caused by the spill. If you saw someone spill the water on the floor, you have actual knowledge of the dangerous condition and are likely liable for injuries caused by the spill. If it could be shown that the water was on the floor for an extended period of time, you may be found to have constructive knowledge of the dangerous condition and could, therefore, be liable for any injuries.
Slip and fall litigation has many exclusions, exceptions, and loop holes. A host of considerations come into play – how long had the dangerous condition existed? Who is responsible for maintenance of that area? Was the dangerous condition open and obvious? Can the injured party show how long the condintion existed? The list never ends.
If someone falls on your property you should take pictures, take statements and contact information from all witnesses, and preserve any videos of the incident. Keep in mind that a failure to preserve evidence – such as a video – could result in a detrimental jury instruction at trial. If you are an employer, keep insepction logs of your premises. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. All of this information will be important for defending a case against you.
LEGAL JARGON DISCLAIMER: The foregoing is not legal advice. Even if you construe it that way, it’s probably only worth what you paid for it. I am an attorney but am not yours.
Whether you are a Haven client or not, I’m always available to discuss.