These guidelines will help you determine who is responsible if you slip or trip and fall on someone else’s property.
Many thousands of people are injured each year — some very seriously — when they slip or trip and fall on a dangerous floor, a flight of stairs or a rough patch of ground. If you have been injured in this way, first consider that it is a normal part of living for things to fall or to drip on a floor or the ground, and for smooth surfaces to become uneven. Also, some things put in the ground — a drainage grate, for example — serve a useful purpose there. Therefore, someone who owns or occupies property cannot always be held responsible for immediately picking up or cleaning every slippery substance on a floor. Nor is a property owner always responsible for someone slipping or tripping on something that an ordinary person should expect to find there or should see and avoid. We all have an obligation to watch where we’re going.
There is no precise way to determine when someone else is legally responsible for something on which you slip or trip. Each case turns on whether the property owner acted carefully so that slipping or tripping was not likely to happen — and whether you were careless in not seeing or avoiding the thing you fell on. Here are some general rules to help you decide whether someone else was at fault for your slip or trip and fall injury.