Is Poor Lighting an Adequate Cause for Liability in a Slip-and-Fall Case?

Slip-and-fall accidents are unfortunately very common. While many accidents leave victims with nothing more than a bruised ego and a little soreness, some have far more serious consequences. Some slip-and-fall victims suffer traumatic brain injuries, broken bones, spinal cord damage, and other serious injuries.

When this happens, it is important to seek fair and full compensation from the liable party. Medical bills add up quickly, and a serious injury could keep you out of work for weeks, months, or even years. Learn more about slip-and-fall accidents caused by poor lighting, and when you’re ready to discuss your claim, call The Dodd Law Firm at 203-272-1883.

Poor Lighting Can Be Dangerous

Inadequate lighting can be incredibly dangerous—there’s a reason that thriller, action, and horror movies use patchy and unreliable lighting to put characters in further danger. Inadequate lighting makes it harder for people to see obstacles, know the layout of the area they are in, and safely navigate to an exit. This is the case whether it’s a familiar or unfamiliar area, but the risk is heightened in an unfamiliar area.

Not only can poor lighting cause an accident, but it can also make an accident worse. When people slip and fall, they often try to catch themselves and limit the damage. Inadequate lighting makes this nearly impossible, as the victim can’t see nearby guardrails or other sturdy items that they can use to catch themselves.

Was the Property Owner Negligent?

For a slip-and-fall victim to seek compensation after a fall, they must be able to show that the property owner was negligent. This deals largely with the property owner’s duty to the victim.

In Connecticut, a property owner’s duty depends on whether the victim was an invitee, licensee, or trespasser. They have the greatest duty of care to invitees, those who are invited onto the property to do business or use it in an appropriate manner as determined by the owner. This category includes shoppers and diners. Property owners must keep their property free of hidden dangers, carry out repairs, and warn invitees of potential dangers.

The duty of care owed to licensees is lower. This category includes those who enter the property by invitation or with permission. Visitors at one’s home are considered licensees. In this case, owners do not have to inspect the property for dangerous conditions. The rules are slightly different regarding rental residential properties.

Trespassers are owed no duty of care under Connecticut law. However, if property owners could reasonably expect children to trespass—for example, because of a pool or trampoline—they must take reasonable steps to secure dangerous areas.

For a property owner to be considered negligent, they must have failed to meet the duty of care owed to the victim. Consider a shopper who slips and falls in a store.

Because of a burnt-out lightbulb, they were unable to see a small step up in the floor level. They tripped and fell on their face, causing lacerations and broken facial bones. In this case, the store owner would likely have had a duty of care to replace the light bulb right away or prevent guests from entering that area of the store until the bulb had been replaced.

How Inadequate Lighting Can Occur

Burnt-out lightbulbs are one of the most common forms of inadequate lighting, but this certainly isn’t the only way inadequate lighting can cause injuries. Entire electrical circuits can malfunction, causing lighting to flicker, go out intermittently, or fail completely. When this occurs, property owners must get the issue repaired promptly and keep visitors from accessing the affected area until it is fixed.

Lighting can also be inadequate by design. Consider areas that are dimly lit to create the appropriate atmosphere or environment. While this can be appealing to customers, if taken too far it can also increase the likelihood of an accident.

Reach Out to The Dodd Law Firm Today

If a poorly lit area has left you injured, don’t wait any longer to talk to an attorney. Call The Dodd Law Firm at 203-272-1883 or send us a message online to schedule a consultation with our experienced slip-and-fall attorneys.

Snow Law 101

As the snow continues to pile up, let us take a moment to review some of the law relating to snow and ice removal in Connecticut. Are property owners responsible for premises liability lawsuits if someone is injured on their property?

Under Connecticut law, a landowner has an obligation to remove or otherwise treat dangerous accumulations of snow and ice from his or her property.  It is well established that the landowner’s obligation to remove snow or ice does not begin until after a reasonable period has passed following the end of the storm.  This means that a landowner may not be liable to an injured party who falls on snow or ice on their property during a storm.  This is commonly referred to as the “ongoing storm” doctrine.

In some instances, it may be possible for a person injured during the course of a storm to bring a claim against a landowner if it can be shown that the injury was caused by an older accumulation of snow or ice not related to the ongoing storm.

The obligation to perform snow removal is known as a “nondelegable duty”.  This means that the landowner cannot avoid responsibility an injury caused by snow and ice merely because they had assigned the responsibility of snow removal to another party.  In an instance where a snow removal company has failed to perform its responsibilities, an injured person likely has a claim against both the landowner and the snow removal company.

Responsibility for snow and ice removal on public sidewalks is governed by local ordinances.  For example, §99.56(C) of the Waterbury City Ordinances reads:

(C)   The owner or person in possession and control of land abutting a public sidewalk shall have a duty of exercising reasonable care to keep the sidewalk free of dangerous conditions caused by the accumulation of ice or snow thereon and shall be liable to any person who sustains injury to self or property where a breach of the duty is the proximate cause of the injury.

Most Connecticut cities and towns similarly place responsibility for snow removal of public sidewalks on the owner of the abutting property.  Your own town likely has a specific ordinance relating to snow removal on public sidewalks.  These ordinances usually provide details regarding how long an abutting property owner has to remove dangerous snow and ice conditions.  You are encouraged to review them on your city or town’s website.