What Are the Slip and Fall Statutes?
Know the law
What Are the Slip and Fall Statutes in Missouri?
In any premises liability case case, it is crucial that you hire a St. Louis attorney who is well-versed in slip and fall law so they can determine a person's status when they are on a piece of property because property owners have different obligations to different groups. There are three main classifications of people in a slip and fall accident: invitees, licensees and trespassers.
Invitees in St. Louis are defined in Bartel v. Central Markets, Inc. (Mo.App. 1995) as anyone who enters upon a premises with the express or implied consent of the possessor, and for some purpose of benefit or interest to the possessor or for the mutual benefit of both. Property owners have a duty to provide invitees with the highest standard of care by inspecting their property and fixing dangerous or hazardous conditions. In addition, property owners must disclose known dangerous conditions, as outlined in Harris v. Niehaus (Mo. banc. 1993), citing Restatement (2nd) Torts § 343 comment b.
Licensees are a person who is privileged to enter or remain on land only by virtue of the possessor’s consent, according to Restatement (2nd) Torts § 330; Harris, 875 S.W.2d at 225. Property owners only have a duty to warn licensees of a danger that the property owner knows about or should know about.
The last classification of people is trespassers. A trespasser—as defined by Restatement (2nd) Torts, § 329 (1965)—is a person who enters or remains upon the land in the possession of another without the privilege to do so. Property owners generally are not liable for harm caused to a trespasser. A St. Louis slip and fall lawyer could help people with their case, regardless of what class of visitor they are.
Do You Automatically Get a Recovery If You Slip and Fall on Someone's Property?
Do You Automatically Get a Recovery If You Slip and Fall on Someone's Property in St. Louis?
So here is the big question - If you get hurt on someone's property, do you get an immediate recovery? Not at all. There are several conditions that can lead to you not getting anything from your accident. First, the dangerous condition that caused the accident has to be one that the owner either knows about or should have known about, and second, the condition has to have caused your injury. Here are several examples:
- Did the property owner have time to know about the dangerous condition? For instance, if someone spills something in an isle, and a shopper then falls due to the spill within a minute, the case of negligence is much harder to prove.
- Just because snow or ice is on a parking lot, it doesn't mean that a landowner has to clear the parking lot. However, if they do clear the ice or snow, and they do it negligently, they can be held liable.
- If a dangerous condition is present, and it would be open and obvious to a reasonable person, and the condition has been labeled as dangerous and cordoned off, and an accident still occurs, the case will be much harder to pursue and win, and may be outright dismissed.
Once negligence has been proven on the part of the property owner or lessee, there can be several other factors that can complicate the case. Who owns the property, and are they liable? What if they own the property, but lease it out, are they still liable? What if there are multiple lessees, who is liable in those cases? You can see how a slip and fall accident can become complicated quickly. This is where a Personal Injury Lawyer comes in. Knowing who is liable, what the laws surrounding the liability are, and what you can pursue and recover in these types of claims can be confusing. An experienced lawyer is going to know how to gather evidence, who to bring the suit against, what they can recover for their client, and how to depose the defendant to see if a trial can be avoided entirely.
What Must I Prove to Win a Slip and Fall Case?
What Must I Prove to Win a Slip and Fall Case in St. Louis?
The Missouri Revised Statutes Section 537.348 states that a landowner may be held liable in premises liability cases for "malicious or grossly negligent failure to guard or warn against a dangerous" or an “ultrahazardous condition” that the owner either "knew or should have known to be dangerous." A dangerous condition is anything that makes the property unsafe. Loose handrails, wet floors, uneven flooring, and broken stairs are all examples of dangerous conditions that could lead to a slip and fall accident, and that the property owner or manager must either remedy or repair.
In order to have a premise liability claim, the following must be true:
- The defendant was in control of the property,
- the defendant was negligent in their use of the property,
- you were injured,
- and the defendant’s negligence caused your injuries
You can prove that the owner or manager knew of the problem through employee testimony or a record of previous complaints made about the same issue. In 1998, Dennis Emery sued Wal Mart Stores Inc. after he slipped on spilled pet food. A Wal-Mart employee testified to the high frequency of pet food spills at the store, proving that Wal-Mart was aware of the dangerous condition. (Emery v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. 976 S.W.2d 439 (1998)).
1. Control of the Property and Duty of Care
The first thing you must establish in your premise liability suit is that the defendant (the person or group you are filing your claim against) owed you, the victim, a duty of care. To prove this, you have to prove that they were in control of the property and that you were there legally. Whether they are the owner, tenant, employee, or maintenance service provider of the property, you must prove that the party you are suing was in control of and responsible for the property where you were hurt. Proving the defendant as the possessor of the property establishes a duty of care, but only for visitors who enter the property legally. So in order to prove that they owed you personally a duty of care to keep you safe from harm, you must also prove that you were on the property legally. Depending on the reasons you were on the property and the type of permission you were granted, you may prove that you were on the property as an invitee or a licensee. The possessor owes a slightly higher duty of care to the invitee than they do to the licensee who has only a limited license to be on the property.
2. Negligence and Breach of Duty
After you have proven that the defendant was the possessor of the property and owed you as a legal visitor a duty of care to keep you from harm, the next step in proving your premises liability case is proving that the possessor breached their duty of care. As stated above, property owners and leasers owe different degrees of care to different visitors, so what is considered a breach of this duty by nature also differs. To prove their negligence if you were injured as an invitee, you need only prove that the defendant in your premises liability case knew or should have reasonably known of the presence of a dangerous condition on the property and failed to remedy the hazard or provide adequate warning of the danger. On the other hand, if you are a licensee to the property, you must prove that the possessor actually knew about the hazard but did not do anything to address it adequately in order to consider them negligent. While the definition of negligence differs in a premise liability case depending on the status of the visitor, possessors of a property are generally at least required to post a general warning about any possible danger on the property lest they be considered negligent.
There is no premises liability claim if you do not suffer any damages. It can be upsetting to discover that someone has not tended to a danger on their property and realize that your safety could be at risk, but you can not sue for premises liability unless you can prove you suffered damages. There are a variety of different damages a victim in a premises liability case could suffer. When you are injured on an unsafe property, your damages and the extent of your damages differ, which in turn affects the amount of compensation you can collect. A good premises liability lawyer in St. Louis will help you prove and calculate the value of your damages, which include things like medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, permanent disability and other effects.
Lastly, you have to tie it all together. To win your premises liability claim and collect compensation for your damages, you must not only prove that you were injured and experienced damages, but also that it was the possessor’s negligence and not some other circumstance that caused you to become injured. To prove causation, you have to show that because the defendant failed to remove a hazard or addressed the hazard inadequately, you were injured. Causation in a premises liability case and other types of personal injury cases is often the point of contention between the plaintiff and the defendant.
What to Do After a Slip and Fall
What to Do After a Slip and Fall in St. Louis
The sooner you act and the more information you can collect at the time of and the days following your accident, the stronger the case your St. Louis premises liability attorney can make for you in fighting to recover the damages you deserve. If possible, do these four things after you have been hurt in an accident due to a dangerous condition on a property where you were visiting.
Any documentation you can get at the time of your accident will only strengthen your claim, especially in the hands of a talented premises liability lawyer in St. Louis like the slip and fall lawyers of Burger Law. As long as it does not put you further in danger, try to snap pictures of the property and around the site where the injury occurred.
Before leaving the property where you have been injured, try to speak to all potential witnesses. If police are called to the site of the accident, do not rely on them to record statements from everyone. Collecting witness contact information could be a powerful tool in winning your case.
Your St. Louis premises liability lawyer will help you collect and organize all documentation and other available forms of evidence for your case. A skilled litigator and practiced trial lawyer like Burger Law premises liability lawyers will uses this evidence to make an infallible argument for your to receive a full financial recovery.
Get medical care.
Your number one priority after any kind of injury is to get the medical care you need. Early care could be the difference between a successful recovery or a lifetime of pain and limitations. You must put your own well-being first.
Seeking the medical care and treatments you need for your injuries also benefits your case. Medical records serve as an excellent form of evidence in proving your damages. With proper medical information, experts like doctors and surgeons can paint an image of the severity of your condition to the defense or, if necessary, to the jury in a trial. Your St. Louis premises liability attorney will know how to wield this information to build your case.
Do NOT talk to the insurance companies.
In most personal injury cases, the claimant is an individual citizen who was put in danger and injured and the defendant (the party who is liable) is a large insurance company. That large corporation handles cases like yours every day as a business. They are very well-versed in tactics to intimidate or mislead you into taking a heinously low settlement. Often, after a premises liability or other personal injury occurs, the defendant's insurance company will reach out to the victim shortly after the accident and appeal to their pathos by offering to write a check for a few hundred or thousand dollars to help them out with their immediate bills.
If an insurance company contacts you after your accident, do not talk to them. They may ask you to give a statement, but you do not have to give one. We advise that as the victim of a premises liability claim, you should not speak to the insurance company at all. Especially do not talk to them until you have hired a lawyer. After you hire a premises liability lawyer in St. Louis, tell the insurance company to communicate strictly through your premises liability attorney.
Hire a premises liability lawyer.
Because of Missouri and Illinois statutes of limitations, you only have a limited time after your premises liability accident happens to file a premises liability claim. The sooner you hire an experienced premises liability lawyer in St. Louis, the sooner they can begin working on your case and demanding the compensation you deserve. Hire the skilled premises liability lawyers in St. Louis of Burger Law to represent you. We have experience winning cases like yours and have recovered over 170 million dollars in verdicts and settlements for injury claimants like you in Missouri. We hold the insurance company accountable and demand the compensation you are owed.
Who Is Liable in a Slip and Fall Claim?
Who Is Liable in a St. Louis Slip and Fall Claim?
Typically, if your slip and fall accident was caused by negligence, either the property owner or a contractor to the property owner may be responsible in your case. Both the property owner and their contractors carry liability insurance. There may also be agreements in place between the property owner and the contractor - such as a maintenance company or a constructor company - and who has responsibility for the safety of the property. Whoever is in control of the property is called the possessor.
The party responsible for the property in question at the time you were injured could be:
- Property owner
- Property manager
- A tenant
- Contractors working on the property
- An employee
For the possessor to be liable in a slip and fall case, the slip and fall must lead to damages such as injury, and the fall itself must be caused by the owner or contractor's negligence. To determine if the owner or contractor has culpability in your slip and fall case, we may need to ask some of these additional questions:
- Was the dangerous condition that contributed to the accident there long enough that the property owner should have known about it?
- Does the property owner have a record of their responsibility to regularly inspect and maintain the premise? Where they doing this?
- If the fall was caused by tripping over an object, was there a legitimate reason for that object to be there?
- If there was a legitimate reason for the object to be there, but that reason no longer applies, could the object have been removed or made reasonably safer?
- Was there a safer place for the object or a safer way for the object to be placed in a reasonable manner?
- Could a simple sign, barrier, rail, cover, or other device have been used to prevent people from accidentally slipping and falling?
- Did an absence of proper lighting contribute to the accident?
Asking these and other questions help determine who was at fault in your slip and fall. Would a reasonable person have been able to prevent the conditions that caused your fall, and did the property owner or their contractor fail to take those reasonable actions? Other relevant information that your lawyer will discuss and that the insurance company and, if your case goes to trial, the jury will want to know is your part in the accident. Did you have a reasonable reason to be in the dangerous area? Was there a sign or other warning that a reasonable person would have noticed and used to avoid the slip and fall? Though the onus is not on you, the plaintiff, to prove that you were exercising caution, it will help your case and help you prove liability if you can show that you were not being irresponsibly reckless.
What if I Am Being Blamed For My Slip and Fall Injuries
What if I Am Being Blamed For My Slip and Fall Injuries in St. Louis?
Part of the determination of liability will be whether you were reckless or careless in not seeing or avoiding what caused you to fall. If a business has posted a “wet floor” sign and you fail to observe it, the business may not be responsible if you fall.
Missouri has a “pure comparative negligence” rule under Missouri Revised Statute §537.765. This means that in a personal injury case, several parties—including, possibly, the plaintiff— may share a percentage of the fault for the incident. A court might find that the property owner was 80% liable, and that you are 20% liable, which would lessen the amount of compensation you could receive. In this scenario, if the court finds that your damages equal $10,000, the owner would only be responsible for paying $8,000. The same rule applies if the case is settled outside of court.
If a court finds that you are 100% liable for your own injury, then you would not receive compensation. The owner will obviously try to put as much of the blame on you as possible. They could argue that:
- You were on a part of the property that is restricted or where visitors are not allowed
- The area was sectioned off by cones, ribbons, or signs and you failed to notice.
- You were not wearing appropriate footwear.
- You were not paying attention to your surroundings or where you were going. For example, if you were looking at your phone, or running where you should not.
Trying to blame injuries on the person that fell is a common tactic insurance companies use, but the slip and fall attorneys at Burger Law know how to combat it and prove negligence on the part of the possessor of a property.
Common Slip and Fall Injuries
Common Slip and Fall Injuries in St. Louis, MO
Slip and fall accidents should not be taken lightly. These preventable accidents can cause severe injuries. In fact, falls are the second leading cause of preventable deaths and the number one cause of non-fatal emergency room visits, according to the National Security Council. In addition, slip and fall injuries are responsible for the most days of work missed every year in the United States.
Serious slip and fall incidents can cause a wide number of severe injuries that can undeniably impact your life and ability to function. Some of the most common injuries caused by slip and fall accidents include:
After you slip and fall on someone else's property, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible. Not all injuries are immediately obvious. Some injuries, such as concussions and head injuries, are difficult to detect and others do not present right away or may not initially seem as severe as they really are.
It is critical both to the success of your injury claim and to your physical recovery that you get professional medical care after your slip and fall accident. With documentation from medical professionals, your Burger Law slip and fall attorney can effectively prove your injuries and negotiate the best possible settlement for you.
Common Causes of Slip and Fall Injuries
What Are Common Causes of Slip and Fall Injuries in St. Louis?
Slip and fall accidents can occur in the workplace, at home, or in public for a variety of reasons. In 2019, over 8 millions people were treated in emergency rooms for injuries sustained in a fall. These falls can happen in private homes, on a construction site, in stores, in hospitals or other medical facilities, hotels or any other public space. Below are some of the most common causes of slip and falls:
- Weather: While weather is impossible to control, property owners have a responsibility to make sure their property stays safe, including shoveling snowy sidewalks or salting and warning against black ice in the winter.
- Wet Surfaces: Floors can become wet for a variety of reasons. A spill, freshly mopped areas, slippery cleaning products, or people tracking in water under their shoes from rain, snow, or sleet, or ice outside.
- Broken, Damaged, or Poorly Constructed Buildings: Broken handrails, loose floorboards, steep walkways, holes in the floor, potholes, and uneven sidewalks could all cause a person to slip or trip and fall and become hurt.
- Stray Cords and Wires: Whether inside or on the sidewalk, loose and unorganized wiring can cause someone to trip.
- Poor Lighting: The Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires every public space, including workplaces and stores, to be well-lit. Property owners need to make sure that stairways and walkways are properly illuminated. Not being able to see where you are going could cause you to slip and fall.
- Poor Training or Faulty Equipment: In many places of work, especially at construction sites, employees must be properly trained on how to move around the job site and operate certain equipment. In 2019, 880 workers died in falls, and over 244,000 were injured badly enough by falls to require taking days off work.
- Old Age: Humans lose their balance and mobility as they age. Unfortunately this causes many older adults to fall. If you live with or care for the elderly, you can fall-proof your home by clearing clutter from the floor, arranging furniture so there is plenty of room for walking, putting important items in easy to reach places, and placing grab bars in bathrooms.
- Improper Footwear: Shoes that do not fit correctly or are not adequate for the environment. Shoes need to have appropriate traction in order to be safe.
- Being Distracted: For example, using your phone or talking to people could cause you to not look where you’re going, to misstep, or to not observe warning signs.
- Running or “Goofing around”: Not moving around safely, especially in crowded areas or spaces with little walking room, can cause injury to yourself and others.
While it is best to avoid hazardous situations as best you can, sometimes accidents happen through no fault of your own. If you have been injured in a slip and fall accident and believe you are owed compensation from a third party, our team of slip and fall lawyers at Burger Law will help you get the payment you deserve. Call us now at (314) 500-HURT or contact us online
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Our capable premises liability attorneys in St. Louis, MO hold a history of immense success in obtaining justice and great recoveries for people who have been injured in slip and fall accidents. Your Burger Law slip and fall lawyer in St. Louis has the reputation, resources, talent and experience needed to provide you with quality representation in your slip and fall claim and make the negligent parties pay. You owe it to yourself to hire a trustworthy and dedicated St. Louis slip and fall lawyer from Burger Law to represent you in your claim and do your research to learn more about your situation and the process for legal remedy. Our premises liability and personal injury law firm offers a number of detailed, free resources to help you in your premises liability claim. Check out our videos, online answers to frequently asked questions, other online resources and free e-books or contact us now at (314) 500-HURT to speak to a qualified slip and fall attorney about your case.
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