Holding businesses and property owners accountable for failing to protect visitors
In Ohio, slip and fall cases arise from personal injuries to and wrongful deaths of business customers and visitors to private residences. Under the legal concept of premises liability, the owner, manager, or occupant of a property has enforceable duties to protect the health, well-being, and lives of everyone who enters the property in a lawful manner. Failing to meet those duties makes the individual or corporate entity that is responsible for the property liable for compensating and paying damages to the injured individual or to the family of the individual who died.
Partnering with an attorney is often necessary to succeed in holding a property, manager, or occupant accountable. Even though every business and homeowner, as well as most renters, are required to carry insurance, the companies that indemnify organizations and individuals against slip and fall losses do not like paying out on claims. Anyone who files a premises lawsuit claim can expect to encounter stiff resistance.
The stereotypical slip and fall case involves literally slipping and falling on a wet floor, icy sidewalk, or loose stair. Failing to post warnings, clean up spills, clear walkways, and make repairs creates undeniable premises liability.
Actually falling down is not required, however. Experienced attorneys will have handled cases in which their clients:
The final item on this brief and incomplete list merits a brief explanation. Employers are responsible for the actions and behavior of their employees. They also have some duties to identify and remove or calm people who enter their premises and pose dangers to other visitors. Those duties are not absolute, though. As a result, it is usually necessary to work with a lawyer to collect and present evidence that the managers of the business had reason to suspect risks existed, as well as opportunities and abilities to minimize those risks.
State laws treat pets, livestock, and zoo animals as property that their owners must control. Local laws also impose a variety of legal obligations to keep animals on leashes, behind fences, in cages or pens, and properly vaccinated against rabies and other diseases that can be transmitted through bites.
While a dog bite or animal attack is about as far from the mental image of a slip and fall as it’s possible to get, such incidents can create premises liability.
Of all the premises liability cases that a Cleveland, Ohio, slip and fall law firm handles, animal attacks are among the toughest. Owners and their insurance companies often argue that the victim goaded or startled the animal into biting, clawing, or kicking. Countering that argument is often difficult without video evidence, but a plaintiff’s attorney will work hard to collect eyewitness testimony, build a history of dangers posed by the animal, and show that his or her client did not provoke the animal.
People cannot make premises liability claims when they intentionally injure themselves, trespass, or commit crimes. For instance, a person who suffers cuts while breaking a store window with the intent of stealing merchandise cannot file a slip and fall claim against the business.
While that example seems a little far-fetched, be assured that individuals have attempted such legal maneuvers. An ethical slip and fall accident lawyer will not take a case like that. The main point of enforcing premises liability is to ensure that a person who suffered harm due to another’s negligence does not have to take on the entire financial costs of recovering from that harm. The other hope is that property owners, managers, or occupants who have to pay out on legitimate slip and fall claims will learn their lesson and take steps to reduce dangers to other customers and visitors.
Slip and fall attorneys in the Cleveland offices of Agee Clymer Mitchell & Portman advise and represent clients in all types of personal injury cases. To request a free consultation, call us at (800) 678-3318 or connect with us online.