Who’s at Fault for an Injury Due to a Slip-and-Fall Accident?

Who’s at Fault for an Injury Due to Slip and Fall Accident

Over one million people are hospitalized each year due to slip and fall accidents. These accidents can cause a wide range of injuries, from bruises and sprains to fractured bones and joint damage. Some slip and fall accidents can cause more severe damage, such as injuries to the back, neck, and head.

While the potential injuries that can result from slip and fall accidents are clear, what is less clear is who is legally responsible for paying the costs associated with such harm. Not knowing who is at fault for your accident can leave you unjustly bearing the costs of your injuries.

Here is what you need to know about fault when it comes to slip and fall accidents in Ohio.

Basics of Ohio Premises Liability Laws

Ohio imposes various legal obligations on property owners in the state, including the duty to make their properties safe for others. Whenever there is such a legal obligation, the property owner must take reasonable steps to fulfill it. What is considered reasonable will differ from one property owner to the next and depend on:

  • Whether the property is residential, commercial, or industrial
  • The human and other resources available to the property owner
  • Typical versus atypical slip and fall hazards for the property
  • Whether the person injured was a child
  • Other factors unique to each situation and property

The duty that a property owner owes to you also depends on the reason you are present on the property.

Invitees Are Owed the Greatest Duty of Care

You are considered an invitee if you are lawfully present on property that is open to the public, or if you are there at the invitation of the property owner. For example, you are an invitee if you visit a retail store during business hours or go over to your friend’s house after being invited to their birthday party.

Property owners who invite you onto their property must make regular inspections of their property and correct any hazards that they find. If they cannot fix a dangerous condition that could cause a slip and fall accident, they must take steps to warn you about the danger.

This includes dangers present not only inside the store or residence, but also hazards anywhere on the property, including parking lots and driveways.

Licensees Are Also Owed a Duty of Care

Unlike invitees, licensees are not invited onto the owner’s property. However, the owner allows them to use their property to accomplish certain purposes. For example, if your neighbor has allowed you to use their driveway to park your vehicle, you are considered to be a licensee.

Similar to the duty of care toward invitees, property owners must correct or warn licensees of any hazardous condition they know of. However, unlike the duty applicable to invitees, a property owner is not required to affirmatively look for and seek out hazardous conditions that are not obvious when dealing with licensees.

Trespassers Are Owed the Lowest Duty of Care

A trespasser is someone who goes onto someone else’s property without the owner’s permission. A person is considered to be a trespasser if they break into a store after hours or climb over a neighbor’s fence for any reason without that neighbor’s approval.

Property owners cannot deliberately set a hazard designed to harm a trespasser. For example, a property owner who sets a trap that causes a trespasser to slip and fall could be held civilly liable for the trespasser’s injuries. Otherwise, property owners are not responsible for looking for, correcting, or warning trespassers about hazards.

Special Considerations May Also Create a Duty of Care

Keep in mind that local or state laws can also create a duty of care, even though Ohio’s premises liability laws generally do not impose such a duty. For instance, some communities in Ohio require residents to remove snow and ice accumulation from sidewalks in front of their residences.

If you were walking and slipped and fell because the property owner did not shovel their snow, you could have legal rights to compensation.

Who Is Responsible for Your Slip and Fall?

Like many legal situations, the answer to the question of who pays for your slip and fall injuries in Ohio depends on the unique facts of your case. This reality underscores the importance of having an experienced slip and fall lawyer review your case as soon as possible following an accident.

A slip and fall lawyer can examine the facts and circumstances surrounding your accident and accurately determine who is responsible. Generally, if you were on a property because the owner invited you to be there, there is a good chance you are entitled to compensation from the property owner.

But if you are a licensee, then evaluating your opportunity to recover compensation from the property owner can be more complex. And if you were somewhere you did not have a legal right to be, the issue of fault may be even more complicated. Fortunately, a skilled lawyer can help you navigate any situation effectively.

There could be others at fault in your slip and fall accident as well. For example, a reckless customer who left a slip hazard directly in your path may bear some or all of the responsibility for your slip and fall injury, especially if there was nothing the property owner could have reasonably done to protect you.

It’s important to consult a slip and fall lawyer, no matter the circumstances of your accident. Only after carefully reviewing the specific facts of your situation can an attorney definitively state what rights you have. Your slip and fall lawyer can also handle filing the claim within any applicable timeframes.

The Statute of Limitations

Ohio’s two-year statute of limitations means that you will need to start the claims process within two years of your accident. If you do not, you could lose your right to seek compensation altogether and be left having to pay your own expenses.

Not only can a slip and fall lawyer help you determine whether you have a claim, but they can also help you file it in a timely manner.

Turn to a Trusted Ohio Slip and Fall Lawyer Today

Understanding who is responsible for your injuries after a slip and fall accident is crucial for securing the compensation you deserve. With over 40 years of experience protecting injury victims in Central Ohio, the seasoned team at Schiff & Associates can identify your rights and fight on your behalf against those responsible for your injuries.

Contact us to schedule your free consultation with a skilled Columbus personal injury attorney today.