In Law, what is a Slip and Fall?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A slip and fall is a type of injury caused by slipping or tripping and then falling. These types of injuries are very common and they can result in a liability suit for the owner or operator of the premises where the injury occurred. Property insurance policies often specifically cover slip and fall cases and people can purchase supplemental insurance if they are concerned their coverage is not sufficient for their needs. Insurance agents can provide advice based on the type of premises and how it will be used.

Property insurance policies often specifically cover slip and fall cases.
Property insurance policies often specifically cover slip and fall cases.

In order to prove liability on the part of the property owner, a person who experiences a slip and fall must be able to demonstrate one of several things. A person could argue that the property owner caused dangerous conditions, as for example if a store owner mopped a floor and failed to secure it while it dried. Someone could also claim the property owner knew or should have known about the conditions that caused the slip and fall. Finally, an argument can be made that a reasonable person would have cleared the obstacle or hazard before someone fell and experienced an injury.

Slip and fall accidents commonly occur on worksites.
Slip and fall accidents commonly occur on worksites.

Proving these things can be challenging, because a number of variables can occur. If a hazard was just created, a property owner may attempt to deny liability. Likewise, if a hazard is the fault of the person who slipped and fell, the property owner will argue that no negligence was involved. For instance, if someone sets down a heavy bag, forgets it is there, turns, and trips on it, this is not the fault of the person operating the premises where the person happens to be standing.

Defenses to slip and fall suits can include claims that negligence was not present in the given situation, or that the person who fell is responsible. People are expected to exercise reasonable care and may be held liable for falls where they clearly ignored hazards. Someone who walks past a “wet floor” sign and a barrier, for example, is clearly responsible for any falls that follow.

Slip and falls can result in very serious injuries, especially for older people, who tend to have fragile bones. The costs of recovery can be expensive and these cases represent a significant liability if negligence can be proved. Having slip and fall insurance is recommended by many insurance agents to provide protection in the event of accidents. Insurance companies will also help with legal defense if there is a suit, as insurance companies want to avoid paying out if they can.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


I don't know how common this is today, but I can remember my grandmother talking about people who would go into stores and look for wet floors, or dangerously stacked boxes and stuff in the aisles. Then they would pretend to slip and fall because of the slippery floor or items in the aisle, and pretend to be hurt. The idea was that they could then sue and get some money.

I'm sure some people still do this or something similar, so I would advise everyone to have a little more property insurance to cover these types of accidents, whether the accidents are real or staged.


@mobilian33 - I know it doesn't make much sense, but like the article says you can be held responsible for slip and fall accidents that occur on your property. Businesses are more likely to be sued because of a customer falling, but it could happen at your home.

The laws differ from place to place, but if you post signs, warning people to stay off your property then this might help your case if you are sued. That's why many people post "Beware of Dog" signs, even when they don't think their dogs will bite or harm anyone. It's better to take a few extra measures to protect yourself.


If someone comes on your property on their own, without being invited are you liable if they trip or slip and fall? I have people who come to my house from time to time either selling something or trying to teach me about religion. If one of these people were to fall off my front porch or step on a nail or get hurt some other way, would I be held responsible even though I didn't ask them to come or give them permission to be on my property?

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