How to Prove Liability in Slip & Fall Claims

Sustaining a slip and fall injury can lead to significant setbacks, both personally and financially. If an individual sustains a slip and fall injury caused by the negligent actions of a property owner, they should be able to recover compensation for their losses. However, proving liability after a slip and fall incident occurs in Oregon can be challenging.

1. Establishing a Duty of Care

In order to prove negligence for a slip and fall claim, it must be shown that there was a duty of care between the plaintiff (the injury victim) and the defendant (the person who allegedly caused the slip and fall accident).

Property owners are legally obligated to provide a reasonably safe environment for those who have a right to be on their premises. This includes regular inspections and maintenance to ensure that their premises are safe from dangerous conditions or hazards.

A property owner’s duty of care will differ depending on the status of the visitor. If the individual is an invitee ( a person brought onto the property for business purposes), they are owed the highest duty of care. Property owners are required to fix and repair any known hazards and they have an obligation to warn the invitee of any potentially dangerous conditions they may encounter.

If an individual is a licensee on the property for social reasons or for their own purposes, the duty of care owed by the property owner is a little bit lower. A property owner will only be required to take reasonable care to protect licensees from known hazards on the property, but this does not require the property owner to look for or discover any unknown hazards.

Lastly, trespassers are owed the lowest duty of care. Property owners do not have to protect trespassers on the property, but they also are not allowed to willfully cause them harm.

2. Showing the Property Owner Breached Their Duty of Care

After a duty of care has been established between the property owner and the slip and fall injury victim, it must be shown that the property owner breached their duty of care in some way. This can be done by showing that:

  • There was dangerous condition that the property owner knew about and failed to fix
  • There was dangerous condition that the property owner should reasonably have known about
  • The property owner failed to warn licensees or invitees of a known hazard

For slip and fall incidents, hazards can include spills of food or drink that are not promptly cleaned, failing to put up a “wet floor” sign, loose or wobbly stairs, loose floor mats, and a range of other hazards.

3. Linking the Breach of Duty With the Injury

After establishing that the property owner breached their duty of care, it must be shown that the breach directly led to the slip and fall incident. For example, if there was a wobbly stair that any person entering the building was required to use, and the property owner failed to fix the problem or warn guests of the wobble, they will likely have breached their duty of care if a person sustained a slip and fall injury on the stair.

4. Proving Damages

The final step in a successful slip and fall injury claim is showing that the injury victim sustained some sort of monetary loss as a result of the incident. This can include medical bills, lost wages, property damage expenses, pain and suffering losses, and more.

Call us today to speak with an experienced Portland premises liability attorney.