Why Slip and Fall Cases Can Be Difficult to Win

Victims of slip and fall injuries at someone else’s property, or business, can sometimes qualify for compensation. According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, approximately 7,000 adults are hospitalized every year for falling

If you’re shopping at the grocery store or the mall, and you slip on some water and fall to the floor, tearing your rotator cuff, you might be wondering if the store will pay for your medical bills and missed work. 

The simple answer is that “it depends.” Simply put, slip and fall cases can be difficult to win. Just because someone gets injured from a slip and fall doesn’t mean the business did anything wrong (negligent). 

Slip and Fall Injury Cases Can Be Difficult to Win

To recover damages for a slip and fall case against a store or business, the plaintiff will have to show:

  1. The business failed to use “ordinary care” to keep the premises in a reasonably safe condition for its customers
  2. The business failed to remove or warn of the “hidden danger,” or the danger was created by the business or its employees
  3. The customer was reasonably unaware of the danger. 

There are a lot of nuances here. 

“Ordinary care” is subjective and examples to clarify 

You’ve likely seen the date/time log on the back of the entrance door to the restroom at a Super Target. This is used to show that the company is exercising ordinary care in checking the restrooms to make sure the floors are not slippery (and to keep the restroom relatively clean). 

A Target employee inspects the restroom, and a few minutes later, someone vandalizes the soap dispenser off of the wall, spilling clear liquid soap on the floor. Immediately after, a customer walks into the restroom, and falls on the slippery floor. The plaintiff in this case is highly unlikely to recover from Target because Target was using ordinary care to keep the premises in a reasonably safe condition.  

Take the same example, but assume Target failed to inspect the restroom that day, and the customer slips 5 or 6 hours after the vandalism occurred. Here, the customer, depending on what a jury decides, should be able to show that Target failed to keep the area in a safe condition.  

“Open & Obvious” is a Question for the Jury

A plaintiff is highly unlikely to win a personal injury case if he or she slips and falls in the parking lot on ice, while it’s sleeting out in 20 degree weather, because the danger is “open and obvious.” Everyone knows icy roads are slippery.  

Other Slip and Fall Case Pitfalls & Evidence

Plaintiffs have the “burden of proof” in personal injury cases to show that their version of what happened is “more probably true, than not.” 

The plaintiff will want to provide evidence to show:

  • Medical records after the accident that are directly related to the fall and injury
  • Medical bills related to the injury
  • Witness testimony
  • Testimony from the treating physicians
  • Photographs of the dangerous condition

Common Places Where We See Successful Slip and Fall Cases

The most common cases we see are from the store failing to clean up an aisle after something was spilled. Other common occurrences include:

  • Nursing Homes
  • Hospitals
  • Restaurants
  • Grocery stores
  • Commercial swimming pools
  • Commercial stairs
  • Commercial sidewalks
  • Leaking pipes or water fountain
  • Leaking or spilled cleaning supplies cart
  • Movie theaters
  • Apartment complexes

Dangerous Conditions That Cause Slip and Fall Injuries

  • Wet or slippery floors (by far the most common issue we see)
  • Damaged or worn out flooring
  • Worn out floor mats (either slippery or raised so it’s a tripping hazard)
  • Damaged or loose handrails
  • Damaged, loose, or uneven stairs
  • Damaged, uneven, sidewalks
  • Obstacles in the shopping aisle

What is Recoverable in a Slip and Fall Case?

Assuming you (or your attorney) can show the business was negligent, you may be able to recovery damages for:

  • Medical Treatment. If the case goes to trial, a doctor will generally need to testify that the treatment was related to the fall, and was reasonable and necessary. 
  • Medical Bills
  • Missed income. If you’re missing work due to the injury, you have a right to recover for your lost income. 
  • Reduced future income. If your injury is permanent, and you can no longer do your job, you may be able to bring a claim for future income. 
  • Pain & Suffering. 

Friendly reminder that no slip and fall injury case is the same. 

What an insurance company will pay, or what a jury will award, will vary based on how the slip and fall occurred, the type and severity of the injuries, the type and length of treatment, and how much work is missed. 

Do You Need a Slip and Fall Attorney? 

You are not required to hire an attorney, but you should at least talk with one. An attorney can help you decide if the claim is worth pursuing and a fair settlement range.