FAQs About Slip & Fall Cases

I slipped and fell in a grocery store on some kind of liquid in the aisle. Do I have a case?

It depends. If the liquid you slipped on was spilt by a shopper and had been there for only a short period of time, then you probably have no case. Although the store owner is required to take reasonable efforts to ensure that there are no hazards in the store, the store cannot be expected to find all such spills immediately when they occur. Generally the grocery store or supermarket must have some kind of procedure for inspecting the aisles for spills and other hazards on a regular basis, say every half an hour. And of course the store must clean up spills that they find. Therefore, if you can prove that the spill had been there for some time, say for at least a half an hour, then you can probably win your case. The problem is proving how long it was there. Alternatively, if you can prove that store employees were aware of the spill for even a short period of time, but did not clean it up, then you have a good case. Further, if a store employee caused the spill, the store is almost always liable, even if the spill was there for only a short time. But again, the problem is proving this. In sum, whether your slip and fall in the supermarket or grocery story will result in a good case depends largely upon (1) who caused the spill (another customer or a store employee); (2) how long the spill was there without being cleaned up; and (3) whether store employees were aware of the spill. Contact us to learn more.

I slipped on ice or snow at a restaurant, or at my neighbors, or at the mall. Are they liable to me for my injuries?

Not always. This is one of the most misunderstood areas of personal injury law. Many people believe that the owner of the property is automatically liable for slip and falls on ice on their property. Nothing could be further from the truth. These are often tough cases, especially in upstate New York where it is virtually impossible to remove all ice and snow at all times from property in winter months. Because it is so hard for a property owner to keep up with all the snow and ice that accumulates in the winter months, the law says that a property owner must act only “reasonably” in removing snow and ice – and is not liable for slip and falls on ice or snow if he at least acted reasonably. This usually means that a property owner will be found liable if the snow or ice was there for some time but the owner failed to remove it. Often the owner will be found not liable if the snow or ice was very recently formed. On the other hand, even with recently formed ice, the owner may be found liable if he failed to alleviate conditions that tended to create icy conditions. For example, perhaps the owner failed to fix an old gutter that was directing rain water onto the walkway (instead of onto the lawn) where the ice formed. Or perhaps puddles tended to form in this area (which would then freeze) because the owner had failed to correct a drainage problem on the property. Or the owner might have piled up snow that tended to melt and flow over to the area where the ice formed. An argument can be made that he should have piled the snow somewhere where the melting snow would not run to form puddles that would latter freeze. All of these possibilities must be investigated. Also, the weather records for the days leading up to the slip and fall must be examined. These will often show whether the ice was recently formed (when temperatures dropped) or whether it had been there for a while (if temperatures had stayed below freezing for the days leading up to the slip and fall). Contact us to learn more.