WylieLaw Home About Ask WylieLaw Legal Advice Update Decisions & Press Contact Us En Espanol
Lawyers for the Rest of Us

Slip/Trip and Fall Accidents

"Slip and fall" or "trip and fall" are the general names for accident cases caused when a person slips or trips and falls on a floor, sidewalk, stair or other surface. It is important to understand that not every fall will result in a large monetary settlement, but if you suffer an accident due to someone else's negligence, you may be entitled to recover for your damages.

Causes of a Slip/Trip and Fall Accident
Accidents on Private Property
Accidents in the Workplace
Accidents on a Public Street
Who Pays for Medical Bills and Damages

Causes of a Slip/Trip and Fall Accident

Common causes of accidents that give rise to liability include:

  • An uneven floor,
  • An unseen danger, such as a hole covered by a rug,
  • Poor lighting,
  • A slippery floor surface,
  • Liquid or other materials on the floor surface creating a dangerous situation,
  • Uneven sidewalk, curb, street or manhole cover.

Accidents on Private Property

As a general rule, the owner of the property, whether it is a house, building, parking lot or other premises, is responsible for injuries resulting from a slip/trip and fall accident on the property.

An occupier of the premises, such as a tenant in an apartment building or a storeowner who leases a store, may also be liable for injuries if the occupier has control over the premises where the injury occurred.

However, the specific circumstances surrounding a slip/trip and fall accident are important in determining who may be legally responsible for injuries.

Accidents in the Workplace

Under workers' compensation (workers' comp) laws, employers are held strictly liable for injuries suffered by employees in the workplace. In return for this strict liability, the amount of damages an employee can recover for injuries is limited.

Specific laws governing the liability of employers often cover a slip/trip and fall accident occurring in the workplace and include:

  • The Federal Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA)
  • State workplace safety laws
  • In New York, workers' compensation laws

Accidents on a Public Street or Sidewalk

In certain circumstances, local municipalities, state and Federal agencies will be responsible for keeping premises safe. For example, the City of New York is responsible for maintaining a building it owns. If you slip or trip and fall on a broken floor inside or on a sidewalk in front of the city's building, the City government may be liable for your injuries.

However, there are strict rules applying to lawsuits brought against federal, state and local governments. The City of New York may not be held liable for slip/trip and fall injuries unless they were previously notified of the defect that caused the accident (on notice); and a notice of claim concerning your accident was filed with the proper agency within ninety (90) days of the accident. The agency you file with is determined by who is responsible for the property where the accident occurred. For example, if the accident took place in a school, the claim should be filed with the Board of Education. If the accident took place on the stairs of a subway station, the claim would be filed with the Metropolitan Transit Authority.

Who Pays for Medical Bills Related to Injuries from a Slip/Trip and Fall Accident

If the injured party has health insurance, then that coverage would extend to medical bills associated with the accident. However, it is possible the health insurance provider will seek to be reimbursed from the injured party pursuant to any monetary settlement related to the claim.

If the injured party has no health insurance, then medical treatment could be provided on a lien basis. In this situation, medical treatment is provided and billing is held until after the claim is settled. At that time, medical bills are paid from any settlement the victim receives.