Juneau Slip and Fall Lawyer

Written by AskTheLawyers.com™ on behalf of Mark Choate with Choate Law Firm LLC.

Written by AskTheLawyers.com™ on behalf of Mark Choate, a Criminal Law attorney based in Alaska.

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What to Do if Injured On Someone Else’s Property

Video Transcript:

Mark Choate: 

If you have a dangerous condition on your property, which can be, you haven't cleared away snow and ice or you've got maybe water dripping, which is creating a situation where moss or slippery materials are collecting, you can be held responsible.

Rob Rosenthal: 

If you fall and get injured on someone else's property, could you have cause to sue? And how do you get help? That's what we're gonna find out right now 'cause we're gonna ask those questions and more, when we ask the lawyer. Hi again, everybody. I'm Rob Rosenthal with askthelawyers.com. My guest is Alaska attorney, Mark Choate. And I'm gonna tell you right at the start, if you wanna ask Mark questions of your own, here's the easy way to do it. Go to askthelawyers.com, click the button at the top of the screen that says, Ask a Lawyer, and you can fill that out, doesn't cost you anything to ask your questions, or you can call the phone number that's on the screen when we talk to Mark. Mark, it's always good to see you. Thank you for making some time to answer our questions.

Mark Choate: 

Great seeing you today, Rob.

Rob Rosenthal: 

So we're talking about slip and fall, trip and fall injuries. How common are these in your area there?

Mark Choate: 

Slip and falls are very common. We live in an icy, snowy environment here, and it's also very wet when it's not snowing. So year-round, we have people who slip and fall, or trip and fall. So it's common.

Rob Rosenthal: 

Do you have a yard stick or two, something that people can use to easily tell maybe they might have a case and they should talk to someone like yourself?

Mark Choate: 

I think the yard stick would be common sense, which is if you look at something and go, "Gee, I didn't expect that to be there, I couldn't see it, that's different than the rest of the sidewalk or the steps," then it's worth making a phone call on. Lots of people fall, normally, they fall because they've been tripped or slipped. We normally can walk alright. So if something happens, it's worth taking a look at.

Rob Rosenthal: 

And what are some of the common areas that these kind of things happen in your area? Are we talking businesses, private residences, public streets? Tell me where these usually happen.

Mark Choate: 

I would say that the majority of falls that we see occur in businesses, both at the entryways, where people are gonna be coming in and out, where you can get accumulations of snow and ice in the wintertime, or you can get water and other slippery materials when it's not icy or snowing. You also get slip and falls in businesses where people may... There may be water, someone has mopped and they haven't done a good job of cleaning up, somebody has spilled something and it sat there a long time and no one's picked up on it. All those things can be business-related slip and falls. On the streets and sidewalks, it's often more a situation of uneven or unexpected changes because you've got an old sidewalk or something has just not been designed and built correctly. All those things can result in a slip and fall, or a trip and fall.

Rob Rosenthal: 

In your experience, Mark, can these sometimes be very serious injuries?

Mark Choate: 

They can. The ones that we see the most serious injuries are generally slip and falls on ice where someone either goes forward or goes backwards and hits their head, and those can be quite serious and can result in a lifetime or permanent disabilities. We just did a fall case with a guy who fell and broke his neck and subsequently died. So they can happen.

Rob Rosenthal: 

It would seem to me too, sometimes these situations, Mark, somebody falls, slips and fall, they're embarrassed, they just wanna get out of the... Get away from there and get away. If they do that, does that hurt their chances of having a case? Is it the sort of thing they need to know right away, "Yeah, I probably had a case."

Mark Choate: 

I'm not sure they have to know right away whether they have a case, but they certainly need to capture in some way what occurred as soon as possible. Meaning if you slip and fall over something that's slippery or icy, or something that trips you, get... Everyone's got a cell phone these days. Everyone is used to taking photos and video. You do it or have somebody else go back and do it as soon as possible. So you capture that before it may be changed, otherwise it's just your... It may be just your word, "Well, there was a bunch of ice and snow there," and a month later there isn't.

Rob Rosenthal: Right. I think sometimes the public may have a misperception about these kind of cases, Mark, they think, "Oh, this is an example of a frivolous lawsuit. People should just... You gotta be careful where you walk, and that's the problem." What do you say to that?

Mark Choate: 

I would say that that's incorrect. Normally speaking, people are capable of walking, and that includes even people who are older or little kids. I mean yeah, certainly they could trip, but generally speaking, most public walkways and most businesses are required to have safe ways to locomote, to walk, and that includes for people who are older or younger, people who have disabilities. Buses are required to have non-slippery floors, schools, supermarkets. They all anticipate that you're gonna have a variety of people. It's not just gonna be healthy Olympic athletes that are walking, it's gonna also be people who have trouble walking. It should be safe for everybody. And the Americans Disabilities Act, ADA, has its requirements. The International Building Code has requirements on what is to be expected. And generally speaking, absence of snowstorm, like we're having right now, you should be able to safely walk wherever you're going.

Rob Rosenthal: 

What's the expectation for a private property at your own home? Are you expected to keep your walkway clear, say someone is gonna deliver a package to your house? Is that a similar situation?

Mark Choate: 

Actually, you do have responsibilities. If you have a property that no one's ever gonna go to, because maybe it's out in the woods, there may be little expectation that you have to do much to make it safe. But if you have property that a mailman's gonna deliver mail, a Domino's Pizza person's gonna come, you're gonna have guests over, if you have a dangerous condition on your property, which can be, you haven't cleared away snow and ice or you've got maybe water dripping, which is creating a situation where moss or slippery materials are collecting, you can be held responsible.

Rob Rosenthal: 

Fascinating. Very interesting conversation as always, Mark. Thank you for making some time to help us out.

Mark Choate: 

You're welcome, Rob. Good seeing you again.

Rob Rosenthal: 

That's gonna do it for this episode of Ask The Lawyer. My guest has been Alaska attorney, Mark Choate. And I remind you, if you wanna ask Mark questions of your own, go to askthelawyers.com, click the button at the top that says Ask A Lawyer, and you can ask your question right there, it doesn't cost you anything to ask your questions. Thanks for watching. I'm Rob Rosenthal with Ask The Lawyers.

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