Frequently Asked Questions
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Slip, Trip and Fall

  1. What constitutes "premises liability" under Minnesota law?
  2. What are the most common types of premises liability cases in Minnesota?
  3. What is a slip & fall accident?
  4. Who is responsible for a slip and fall accident? The owner or the person injured?
  5. Do the rules change depending on where I fell?
  6. Older people and children tend to fall down more than healthy adults, is it harder for them to recover for a slip and fall injury?
  7. What is "comparative negligence?"
  8. Does an accident report have to be filled out at the time of the fall?
  9. If I am injured in a slip & fall accident, who will pay my medical expenses?
  10. What damages can I recover in a Minnesota premises liability case?
  11. Is my landlord liable for injuries sustained on his property?
  12. How long do I have to bring a lawsuit for premises liability?
  13. Do I need an attorney to bring premises liability case?
  14. Is there anything else about slip and fall injuries that I need to know?

Questions & Answers

What constitutes "premises liability" under Minnesota law?
Answer:
Premises liability refers to the body of law, which holds a landowner and/or possessor of real property liable for injuries to others who suffer injury on their property. In Minnesota, a premises liability lawsuit often arises from the property owner’s or occupant’s failure to maintain the property in a safe condition or failure to correct a dangerous condition on their property, which they knew about or upon reasonable inspection, should have known about.

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What are the most common types of premises liability cases in Minnesota?
Answer:
Slip and fall and trip and fall accidents are by far the most common claims in Minnesota involving premises liability lawsuits. Common causes of slip and fall or trip and fall injuries are due to foreign substances on the floor. The foreign substance is either sticky or slippery. Other common causes are from unmarked uneven surfaces, holes on the walking surface, or defects on a floor or stairway.
Other common types of premises liability actions include but are not limited to dog bite and animal attacks. A property owner in Minnesota is strictly liable for dog bites. Dangerous conditions on the property contributing to injuries may include unsafe design or unsafe construction of buildings, poor lighting or inadequate lighting.

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What is a slip & fall accident?
Answer:
Slip and fall describes the type of injury suffered on someone else’s property as a result of a defect, slippery substance or other dangerous condition. These injuries commonly occur at supermarkets and restaurants and are due to food on the floor. They can also occur when inadequate steps are taken to remove ice and snow from sidewalks, driveways, and parking lots.

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Who is responsible for a slip and fall accident? The owner or the person injured?
Answer:
The general rule of law is that the owner or operator of the premises has a duty to keep the premises in reasonably safe condition or at least warn individuals of dangerous conditions of which the owner or possessor of the land either caused, knew about or should have known about.

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Do the rules change depending on where I fell?
Answer:
No, in Minnesota the duty of reasonable care to keep one’s premises safe is the same for a business owner or a homeowner.

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Older people and children tend to fall down more than healthy adults, is it harder for them to recover for a slip and fall injury?
Answer:
No, Minnesota law does not distinguish between a person’s age or any pre-existing conditions that they may have. They are to be taken as they are found. Everyone, regardless of their physical condition, has a right to expect property to be maintained in a reasonably safe condition and may recover for any injuries (or aggravation of existing injuries) which are caused by the property owner’s negligence, as long as the injured person was not being careless at the time of the accident. There are other specific laws relating to trespassing children who are on an individual’s property as a result of an “attractive nuisance.”

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What is "comparative negligence?"
Answer:
Comparative negligence is the law that governs all negligence accidents in the State of Minnesota. Comparative negligence is typically a fact determination for a jury in which they are asked to compare the fault of the person who is making the claim and the fault for the person who is said to have caused the claim. If the person who is bringing the claim’s negligence is determined to be greater than that of the person who is claimed to have caused the injury, then that person is not entitled to recover.

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Does an accident report have to be filled out at the time of the fall?
Answer:
It is best that an accident report be completed at the time of the incident. The accident report should specify what happened, who witnessed both the accident as well as the condition that caused the fall, along with any other important information such as the lighting conditions. The requirement for report is generally a question of store or business policy rather than something that’s mandated by the law.
If a report is not completed at the business location or the fall occurred at a private location or was not observed by others, you should compile a record of what happened yourself, including as much information as possible describing the circumstances of the fall, who was present, and any comments made by anyone who saw or helped you after the fall. If it is possible, photos of the area should be taken as soon as possible.

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If I am injured in a slip & fall accident, who will pay my medical expenses?
Answer:
Most businesses have general liability policies that contain a medical payments provision to cover at least some of your medical bills. Also, homeowner’s policies also carry medical payments provisions, which will pay for some of your medical expenses.  If the limits of those policies are exhausted or they are not available for some reason, then a person can look to their own health insurance policies to cover any medical expenses.

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What damages can I recover in a Minnesota premises liability case?
Answer:
Compensations for slip and fall accidents are similar to all personal injury claims. Recovery may include the payment of medical bills, wage loss, pain and suffering, potential future medical expenses and potential future loss of earnings or earning capacity.

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Is my landlord liable for injuries sustained on his property?
Answer:
Generally, yes, but to prevail in a claim like this you must establish, among other things, that the landlord was in control of the area, that the landlord knew of the defect or dangerous condition on the property, and that the landlord’s failure to take reasonable care caused the injury.

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How long do I have to bring a lawsuit for premises liability?
Answer:
The answer to this question depends upon the cause of the injury. If the cause of the injury was due to some defect in the design or construction on the real estate, then there is a two-year statute of limitations. If, on the other hand, the injury was caused by negligent maintenance of the premises, then there is a six-year statute of limitations.

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Do I need an attorney to bring premises liability case?
Answer:
There is no requirement that you hire a lawyer to bring premises liability case. In case of minor injuries, you may be better off attempting to settle the case without an attorney. However, it is important to make sure that your injury is minor and completely healed before you attempt to settle any case. In cases involving more serious injuries, it is generally advisable to retain an attorney. In all but the most obvious premises liability cases, the business or homeowner’s insurer will deny responsibility for your claim or significantly under-evaluate your damages and these cases usually have to be litigated.

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Is there anything else about slip and fall injuries that I need to know?
Answer:
This is just the very basic information on slip and fall accidents. There is no substitute for speaking with a lawyer from the law firm of Schwebel, Goetz and Sieben.

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