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Grupo MedLegal® > Blog > Attorneys > Legal Definition of Slips and Falls

Legal Definition of Slips and Falls

Undoubtedly you have heard mention of suing for slips and falls. However, you may not know exactly what qualifies as a slip or fall, who has a right to sue, and under what circumstances. The legal definition of slips and falls is quite simple.

Legal Definition

Premises liability is defined as the extra-contractual responsibility of the owner/landlord for the conditions or activities on the premises. Slips and falls constitutes a legal category in which a person either trips, slips, or falls. Property must be kept reasonably safe. This means that the owners or managers of a dwelling, parcel of land, or business are legally obligated to keep their property free of dangerous conditions.

Lawsuits for Slips and Falls

Cases of slips and falls generally occur when a person is injured on another person’s property or in a shopping center due to an existing dangerous condition that was neither corrected nor properly marked. The defendants generally seek to extricate themselves from liability by employing certain legal defenses.

Legal Defenses Commonly Employed in Cases of Slips and Falls:

  1. The property owner is not negligent. The dangerous condition was a recent occurrence, and the owner, who acted responsibly, did not have time to discover and reduce the risks of the problem or defect.
  2. The claimant, the person who was injured by the slip or fall, is responsible. He or she did not act responsibly under the circumstances.

Who Has the Legal Responsibility To Avoid Dangerous Situations:

Generally, property owners are responsible for those who are authorized to enter the premises, whether consent is explicit or only implied. The owner usually does not have this obligation toward a person who is trespassing, although the owner must not take steps to harm a trespasser.

To explain, we will consider the following situation: imagine you are a thief and upon entering a darkened house, you fall because of the poor lighting conditions. You cannot sue the homeowner or establishment because you were not authorized to enter. The landowner has no legal obligation to protect you from dangerous situations. On the other hand, if the owner of the house or establishment suspects that someone is entering and stealing from time to time, he or she cannot set up a block to fall on your head upon opening the door as this would constitute affirmative steps to harm you.

Attractive Nuisance, a Legal Exception Protecting Child Trespassers

The law considers things such as trampolines, swimming pools, and swings to be attractive nuisances. Owners of houses or institutions must keep their premises safe enough to prevent children from being injured even if they are trespassing. Reasonable safeguards must be in place. For instance, if you have a pool on your property and a fence preventing access to the pool, but a child climbs the fence and enters, it is unlikely that you will be held responsible.

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