Personal Injury

Personal Injury Slip and Fall FAQs

Reviewed by David Goguen, J.D., University of San Francisco School of Law
Before you get the injury claim process started after a slip-and-fall on someone else's property, take a look at these frequently asked questions.

Q: Am I able to sue my employer for my fall?

  • A: Generally, you can't sue your employer over injuries you sustained on the job. Instead, injuries suffered at work are almost always covered by your state's workers' compensation laws, so a workers’ compensation claim (as opposed to a personal injury claim) is probably your exclusive remedy.

Q: Does an accident report have to be filled out at the time of the fall?

  • A: If you fall in a store or on other property where it’s common practice for the business to generate a report, then by all means, make sure an accident report is completed at the time of the incident. You don’t need to sign anything or give any lengthy statements (in fact, you shouldn’t), just have the business note what happened, who witnessed it, and any other relevant information. Make sure you get a copy of the report.

    If a report is not prepared at the business, or if your fall occurred on private property, it's a good idea to compile your own record of what happened. Be sure to include information such as:

    • a complete description of the circumstances leading up to the fall, including the condition of the ground or floor, presence of any debris or objects, etc.
    • what you felt, saw, and heard at the time of the fall
    • who was present, and
    • any comments made by those who saw or helped after the fall

    If possible, take photos of the area where you fell. If you were hurt, get prompt medical attention and be sure to hang on to any records and bills related to your treatment.

Q: What compensation might I be eligible for?

  • A: The categories of compensation available after a slip and fall accident are the same as those that are in play in any kind of personal injury claim. That means you could get monetary compensation for:
    • medical bills
    • wage loss
    • pain and suffering, anxiety, and sleeplessness related to the accident and your injuries
    • temporary and permanent disability
    • loss of earning capacity, and
    • future medical expenses.

Q: What information is an insurance adjuster looking for?

  • A: The insurance adjuster will attempt to establish how the slip and fall accident happened and how badly you are injured. If the adjuster works for the insurance company of the property owner (when a slip and fall is covered by homeowners' insurance, for example) you can bet that he or she will want to try to poke holes in your claim. They’re trying to determine:
    • the nature and extent of your injuries
    • whether your injuries may have been pre-existing
    • what you were doing just before the accident
    • warnings that may have been ignored, and
    • whether you had a valid reason for being in the area where the accident took place.

    After a slip and fall, it's generally not in your best interest to speak with the property owner’s insurer, and you certainly shouldn’t provide any written or recorded statement. It’s best to retain an experienced attorney and let the insurance company know you’re represented by counsel.

Q: What's a hazardous condition? Who's responsible for it?

  • A: Hazardous conditions can be permanent (such as a defectively-designed staircase) or temporary (such as the accumulation of ice on a sidewalk).

    Property owners are often responsible for injuries resulting from permanent hazardous conditions or defects on their property, as long as they have a reasonable opportunity to learn of and repair those problems.

    When it comes to temporary hazards, the property owner’s liability may depend on whether they had a reasonable opportunity to become aware of the dangerous situation, and whether they took reasonable steps to correct the condition or make the property as safe as possible for expected visitors.

Q: What defines a "slip & fall" accident?

  • A: A slip and fall accident can happen on any kind of property -- private, commercial, or government-owned -- and can lead to the filing of an injury claim against the property owner or anyone else who may have caused or contributed to the accident. There are four general types of “fall” accidents which could lead to the filing of a personal injury claim or lawsuit:
    • "trip-and-fall" accidents, where there is a foreign object in the walking path
    • "stump-and-fall" accidents, where there is an impediment in the walking surface
    • "step-and-fall" accidents, where there is s an unexpected failure or hole in the walking surface, and
    • "slip-and-fall" accidents, in which the interface of the shoe and the floor fails, usually because of a slick surface.

Q: What is "comparative negligence" and how will it affect a slip and fall case?

  • A: “Comparative negligence” is a legal concept that applies when the person making the slip and fall claim is (or may be) partially responsible for causing the accident that led to their injuries. Different states follow different rules when the claimant is deemed partially at fault for the underlying accident. In most states, the injured person’s damages (the money they receive) are reduced by a percentage equal to their share of fault. In a few states -- Alabama, Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia -- and in Washington, D.C., the fact that the injured person bears any amount of blame will bar any monetary recovery against other at-fault parties.

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