Who is Held Responsible for a Minnesota Slip and Fall Accident?
To determine who may be held responsible for a Minnesota slip and fall accident, a lawyer has to thoroughly investigate the facts. Generally, the owner and/or the possessor of the property where the accident took place may be held responsible (in legal terms “liable”) for any injuries resulting from the accident. Generally, the owner/possessor of property will be a municipality, business(profit or non-profit), or home owner. There are special rules of liability in Minnesota slip and fall cases involving snow and ice.
Can I Sue a Business?
If you slipped and fell in a store or other commercial property, you may have a claim against the owner and/or possessor of the property. The following hazards have given rise to claims in Minnesota:
- Slippery floors and stairs caused by newly-mopped floors and stairs, incorrectly-applied floor treatments, spills and garbage (1);
- Poor lighting (2);
- Changes in elevation (3);
- Business displays that conceal or draw attention away from stairs or other potential hazards (4);
- Ice and snow (see below).
If you are not sure what caused your fall but hazardous conditions existed that could have caused it, one of our Minnesota attorneys can investigate and determine if you have a claim under the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur, which means negligence inferred from the facts.
Can I Sue a City if I Slipped and Fell on a Sidewalk or the Street?
In Minnesota, the municipality that is the owner of a public sidewalk or street has the duty to use reasonable care to maintain the sidewalk or street. What constitutes “reasonable care” depends on the facts of the case. Our attorneys have the experience necessary to present persuasive arguments on the issues of “reasonable care” and compensation for injuries. This experience is particularly important for accidents involving snow and/or ice because, in Minnesota, municipalities are exempt from liability in cases of “mere slipperiness” (5).
Cities cannot delegate the duty to maintain its sidewalks and streets to abutting, private landowners. This means that, in most cases, if someone slips and falls on a sidewalk, the municipality that owns the sidewalk is liable for damages resulting from the fall, and the abutting, private landowner is not liable.
However, there are situations in which abutting landowners can also be held liable for slips and falls on sidewalks and streets:
- Where an abutting landowner or possessor makes use of a sidewalk for his or her own convenience and benefit and is also “of such nature, kind or degree, that a condition is created which interferes with, and is in derogation of, a normal use of the sidewalk by the public” (6).
- Where an abutting landowner or possessor creates an artificial condition associated with the sidewalk and snow and ice create a hazard (7).
Can I Sue if I Slipped on Ice?
The owner and/or possessor of land has a duty to remove snow and ice and take any other appropriate action (salting walkways, for example) within a reasonable time after a storm has abated or before the storm has abated if there are “extraordinary circumstances” (8).
Municipalities and other governmental bodies are provided some immunity from liability for injuries arising from slips and falls on slippery streets and sidewalks, meaning most of the time they are not liable for these injuries. But there are exceptions to their immunity. In a recent Minnesota case, the court stated that immunity “does not protect the municipality in the case where an accumulation of ice and snow is negligently permitted to remain for such a length of time as to cause the formation thereon by artificial means, of slippery and dangerous ridges, depressions and irregularities to such an extent as to render the street or sidewalk dangerous and unsafe for use” (9).
Examples of Fault Giving Rise to a Claim
Property and business owners are required by law to keep the areas in and around their property safe from hazards. Examples of fault giving rise to slip and fall injuries include:
- Failing to remove obstructions from walkways;
- Failing to clean up slippery conditions;
- Failing to mark dangerous areas;
- Failing to repair holes and cracks in the street or sidewalk;
- Failing to install railings and barriers;
- Failing to promptly remove snow and ice, especially if it’s the result of “unnatural” accumulations; and
- Failing to provide adequate lighting.
What to Do After a Minnesota Slip and Fall Accident
Get Photographs to Use as Evidence
In order to be compensated after a slip and fall accident in Minnesota, your lawyer must prove the fault of the person or company responsible for your injury. This means that your attorney must be able to prove the property was in a dangerous condition and that dangerous condition caused your injury. If the dangerous condition is repaired, replaced or changes before you have a chance to photograph it, your case may be over before it starts. Prompt action is a must! Take photos of the scene as soon as possible after the accident. If you retain our law firm immediately after your accident, we can take the pictures for you. If you are unable to retain us promptly, you must take pictures or have a friend or relative take pictures. After you retain us, we will visit the site of the accident and take more pictures if necessary.
Slip and Fall Accident Case Tips
Here are some other tips to remember if you suffered a slip and fall injury caused by the fault of another:
- Seek proper medical attention. Take care of yourself. Even minor injuries can turn into major problems if not treated as soon as possible. You will also need medical records for your case.
- Keep a written record (as well as photographs) of all things relating to the incident. Names, dates, phone numbers, witness information can all be helpful. By keeping detailed records, you will increase your chances of receiving just compensation.
- Do not discuss your case with anyone, and do not sign any documents relating to the accident under any circumstances. Most parties that you need to deal with, including insurance companies, do not have your best interests in mind.
Minnesota Case Law
- Usher v. Eckhardt, 176 Minn. 210, 222 N.W. 924 (1929).
- Iverson v. Quam, 226 Minn. 290, 32 N.W.2d 596 (1948).
- Krengel v. Midwest Automatic Moto, Inc. 295 Minn. 200, 203 N.W.2d 841 (1973).
- Harris v. Campbell Cereal Co., 243 Minn 308, 67 N.W.2d 824 (1954).
- Teske v. Steele County, 284 Minn. 559, 560, 170 N.W.2d 234, 235 (1969).
- Graalum v. Radisson Ramp, Inc. 245 Minn. 54, 60-61, 71 N.W.2d 904, 909 (1955).
- Olson v. City of St. James, 380 N.W.2d 555, 560 (Minn. App. 1986).
- Mattson v. Luke’s Hospital, 252 Minn. 230, 234, 89 N.W.2d 743,745 (1958).
- Otis v. Anoka-Hennepin School District No. 11, 611 N.W.2d 390,392 (Minn. App. 2000).
Our Minnesota slip and fall accident attorneys have offices in Minneapolis and represent injury victims throughout Minnesota, including but not limited to the Twin Cities (Minneapolis/St. Paul), Apple Valley, Bloomington, Burnsville, Eagan, Edina, Moorhead, Roseville, Woodbury, Duluth, Rochester, and St. Cloud.