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Slip, Trip, & Falls


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Contrary to widely held beliefs, a person injured in a slip, trip or fall case is not automatically entitled to compensation for their injuries just because they were injured on someone else’s property.  Recently, in Chicago, a woman is suing over claims that she was injured in the aisles of a Chicago Dollar General store on September 30, 2014, when she slipped and fell on a wet undetected substance on the floor, resulting in injuries to the left-side of her body. Injuries like this occur very often but it may be difficult to show fault.

Who May Be Liable if I Slip, Trip, or Fall?

Property owners are legally required to maintain safe premises for their customers, visitors, members of the public and passersby. When they do not and injuries or death result from their negligence, the injured person who has slipped, tripped, or fell may be able to recover compensation for their medical bills, lost wages and other costs of the accident.

The plaintiff must also show that the owner or possessor of the property knew or should have known of the unsafe condition. It may be very difficult to show fault in a slip and trip accident but contact an attorney to go over your facts for assistance. The baseline of a claim will be on the “reasonable person” standard, which means that the court will consider how an ordinary person would act in the circumstances.

Premises liability cases can be among the most difficult, and more than one party may be liable. Independent witnesses who are able to testify regarding your injury are extremely important to prove your case. After the incident, try to get the names of anyone who may have seen the accident or the unsafe condition. If someone helps you after the accident, their testimony could be very important when the owner later denies the hazardous condition.

To determine liability, inquiries will be made into the creation of the hazards, the length of time the hazard has existed, whether the landowner knew of the hazard, or whether the landowner should have known of the hazard. The old saying that a picture is worth a thousand words was never truer than in a slip, trip, or fall injury. The best way to prove the existence of the hazardous condition is to take pictures as soon as possible after the incident. Photographs must be taken from all angles, including the ground level. It’s better to take too many pictures than not enough.

What If I Fell At a Store?

cracked sidewalkCustomers who are injured in slip and fall accidents at a store, whether it is a big-box store or a small neighborhood store, may have a valid legal claim against the business. However, like other slip, trip and fall casues, it may not always be a smooth one. Businesses have a duty to maintain a safe premise for consumers. For example, a restaurant owner has a higher duty of care for customers who enter the restaurant for a meal than it owes to trespassers. If the injured party can show “negligence” on the part of the store owner, the injured party may be to recover damage.The injury must be caused by an unsafe condition on the premises. Examples of unsafe conditions, among others, are:

  • Oil on the floor
  • Lack of handrails on stairways
  • A hole in the floor
  • An unguarded hole on a construction site
  • Failure to have protective equipment for an ironworker or other construction worker
  • Poorly lighted steps on stairways
  • Wet floors
  • Dilapidated floors or stairs
  • Unnatural accumulations of ice and snow
  • Cluttered environments
  • Cracks in a sidewalk
  • Carpeting problems

What If I Fell On Public Property?

Additionally, when an injury occurs on public property, it is important to contact an attorney as soon as possible after the injury. Public property includes government buildings, public sidewalks, schools, libraries, and parks and playgrounds. As you walk your kids to school or spend time at Lake Arlington, an injury from a fall due to a cracked sidewalk may require you to contact an attorney. On public grounds, shorter deadlines exist for filing claims against government entities. Don’t lose your right to recover financial compensation for your injury because you waited too long. The Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd. will be able to provide you with immediate attention.

What Do I Do Next?

16209750221_1e584ab293_bIn order to prevail, the injured person must prove that the property owner or tenant had responsibility for the condition of the property, knew or should have known of the defects, and did nothing to deal with the problems that resulted in the injury. First, document everything you can. Take pictures, visit a doctor, and look for any signs the property owner may have posted.

Due to the complicated nature of these types of cases, consult a personal injury attorney as soon as possible to go over all of your facts and to get as much evidence of your slip, trip, or fall. Consulting with an experienced slip, trip and fall attorney who has worked on similar cases in Arlington Heights, Des Plaines, Mount Prospect, and many of the other Northwest Suburbs, could save you a lot of time, money, and stress as you recover from your injuries.

Ronald F. Wittmeyer has practiced personal injury law for over twenty-five years and has much experience in premises liability law. The Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd. know how to develop cases that provide all the required information that an injured party will need. We are set up to build a strong case after a slip, trip, and fall injury.

About the Firm


Ronald F. Wittmeyer, Jr. practices plaintiffs' personal injury law at his office in Arlington Heights, Illinois.

About Ron

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