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Posted On August 12, 2014 Personal Injury

Ask the Attorney: Slip-and-Fall Victims Can Sue, but They’ll Need Help

Asker: Can I sue for a slip-and-fall in a store or parking lot? The company was very unapologetic about the incident and they were expecting me to handle my medical bills on my own. Can I sue for the slip and medical bills or would it be considered too minor?

Attorney: Of all the types of accidents out there, it seems that slip-and-fall injuries are among the most confusing. I often hear questions about whether a victim can sue, who they can sue, and how important the severity of injuries is to the value of the claim. You can sue for a slip-and-fall injury you suffered on a property, but you have to be able to show that the property owner or the company using the property was somehow at fault for the accident.

Understanding Premises Liability


Slip-and-fall cases are a type of claim called “premises liability.” Essentially, the injured person is asserting that the owner or user of the premises is liable, or at fault, for the injuries sustained there. So if you slipped and fell in a store or parking lot, you will have to show that there was some sort of safety hazard that caused you to fall and that the property owner should have taken steps to protect the safety of others legally on the property, like you were.

In this case, the store failed to put up signs or barriers to warn customers of the danger. If the staff had placed caution signs near the spill and the shopper had ignored the signs, she probably wouldn’t have much of a case. Photo Credit: Michael PereckasWikimedia Commons (Creative Commons license).

Premises liability cases can be difficult because property owners and commercial users will often attempt to deny liability. They may blame the victim, making statements such as “he should have watched where he was going” or “if the danger was so obvious that we should have known about it, then the shopper should have known to avoid it.” If all else fails, the defendant may try to argue that the victim wasn’t really hurt. This kind of behavior is unfair, and to victims struggling with physical pain and financial consequences, it can be incredibly frustrating. To truly succeed in a slip-and-fall case, you will need an attorney.

Who to Sue

Questions about slip-and-falls frequently look like fill-in-the-blanks. “Can I sue ___________?” People ask about casinos, schools, stores, parking lots, and restaurants.

Depending on the circumstances of the accident, victims could – at least in theory – sue any of these entities for a slip-and-fall if they can prove premises liability. However, the procedure may be different depending on who the defendant is in your case. In a typical claim, victims have two years to file a lawsuit, but against certain entities – like government agencies and schools – there might be additional deadlines, some as short as 90 days, by which the defendant must be notified of a claim.

You can sue for a slip-and-fall, but your success in doing so depends on a couple of factors you can’t control – the severity of injuries and the evidence of liability on the part of the defendant – and one factor you can control: hiring an attorney. An attorney can make a huge difference in how much money you get and even whether or not you recover compensation at all. The right lawyer for your claim will understand how your injuries impact your life and will work diligently to gather all of the necessary evidence to show that the defendant acted negligently and caused the accident. You can get the money you deserve, but you can’t do it alone.