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Slip and fall claims are civil law cases that involve the injury of one party, the plaintiff, on the defendant's property. These cases almost always involve allegations of negligence, rather than intentional harm caused by the defendant. Slip and fall claims may be directed toward small claims court in minor instances, but can involve high damage levels if injury results in extensive damage claims, or if the claim is brought against a business rather than an individual.
The form of negligence and manner of the injury are often defining features in different types of slip and fall claims. The legal basis behind most slip and fall claims is that property owners have some responsibility to ensure the safety of visitors, whether they are guests, employees, or customers. Regardless of what type of claim is made, slip and fall decisions are generally made after determining if negligence existed on the part of the property owner, or if reckless behavior on the part of the plaintiff caused the incident.
Some slip and fall claims originate around an accusation of inadequate facilities. This may include lighting that is too dim, carpet that is rucked up, or cords and cables laid haphazardly on the floor. People who bring slip and fall cases that surround dangerous facilities usually allege that the accident would not have occurred if the owner addressed existing safety issues, such as creating proper storage facilities for cables or ensuring that burned out lights are immediately replaced.
Other slip and fall claims may revolve around inadequate warning signs. Companies or property owners may be legally liable if a customer or visitor slips on a mopped floor without a warning sign, gets caught in an automatic door without a warning on it, or consumes hot beverages without being duly warned that they are hot.
Equipment malfunction can be a basis for many slip and fall claims. If an elevator drops suddenly; an escalator freezes, knocking patrons to the ground; or an automatic walkway suddenly speeds up, plaintiffs may feel that any injuries caused were a result of inadequate maintenance practices. Injuries in mechanical malfunction slip and fall claims can be quite severe, meaning that damage requests and rewards may be considerably higher.
Some experts estimate that slip and fall claims are among the most expensive types of lawsuits on an annual basis. It is considered by some to be a leading cause of hospital visits in the United States for many age groups, though particularly for the elderly. Preventing slip and fall accidents requires both efficiency on the part of the property owner and careful behavior on the part of any visitor or customer.