It is a classic vaudeville trope: hapless pedestrian slips on an errant banana peel, taking a broad slapstick fall to the delight of the audience. It might be a surprise to learn that this type of injury is somewhat based in fact. Grocery stores and other venues have been successfully sued for negligence for failing to timely clean up a banana peel. However, it does not work if the banana peel was planted by the supposed victim.
This past August, Maurice Owens allegedly slipped and fell on a banana peel exiting an elevator at a Metro stop in Washington, DC. He filed a $15,000 lawsuit against the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, the body that governs the Metro and its stations. However, NBC 4 Washington reports that surveillance video footage from the elevator clearly shows that Owens himself planted the banana peel shortly before the alleged slip-and-fall. Owens’ lawsuit has been dismissed, and he now faces second-degree fraud charges.
The Law of Slip-And-Fall
Negligence lawsuits all depend on whether someone had a duty to the injured party, and whether that duty was breached, resulting in the injury. When dealing with slip-and-fall injuries, the area of law is called “premises liability.” The person or people in charge of maintaining the premises are liable for certain injuries suffered by the people on the premises, depending on what category of visitor they fall into.
There are three kinds of visitor for the purposes of premises law: licensee, invitee, and trespasser. A trespasser is someone who is on the premises without permission. The caretaker of the premises owes a trespasser very little duty. Basically, the caretaker must refrain from doing anything deliberately to harm the trespasser. If the trespasser gets injured while on the premises, that is the trespasser’s fault, and he cannot sue the caretaker.
An invitee is someone who is on the premises with permission for the invitee’s own benefit. Think of guests at a party. If the invitee is injured by a condition the caretaker had actual knowledge of, the caretaker is liable for the injury. The caretaker is not liable, however, for dangerous conditions he did not know about.
A licensee is someone on the premises with permission for the benefit of the owner or lessee of the premises. Licensees include customers in a supermarket, or ticket holders at a train station. Not only is the caretaker liable for dangers he knew about, but he has a duty to inspect the premises and remove risks that he either discovers or could have reasonably discovered. If a banana peel has been left to rot and get slippery, and someone falls and is injured as a result, the caretaker is liable for the injury.
Premises Liability and You
If you are a legitimate victim of a slip-and-fall accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries, as well as your loss of income and other damages. An experienced DC Metro area attorney can collect evidence, depose witnesses, and build a case so you can get the results you deserve. If you have been injured, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer today.