Visitor Question

Slip and Fall Hazard Causes Knee Injury…

Submitted By: Deb (Northfield, VT)

In a parking lot at the local mall in front of the sidewalk they had patched a strip of concrete with some tar. Tar pieces had broken off the size of golf balls. I stepped on a piece, twisted my ankle and fell onto the sidewalk. I now have knee injury pain and I just started cortisone shots.

Since it’s a commercial property I’d think the owners of the property would be at fault. The store manager called me back to come and fill out a form. We went out to the sidewalk and someone had swept the area clean. We had kicked a piece to the side of the building so we showed him that.

A pharmacy nearby gave me a cold pack as my ankle started to swell immediately. The property was very dangerous with those pieces. Lat time I went back to the store more tar pieces had broken off but had not been swept. What do you think I should do?

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.


Dear Deb,

This depends on a few factors but the general theory of liability remains the same. This is a premises liability claim and the owners of the property have a duty to inspect for known dangers and take reasonable steps to make the property safe.

If this tar/concrete as you described had been newly poured and it is exceedingly hot, tar will often break away forming chunks atop the surface. If this occurred recently and the landowner had no knowledge of it, but in making his/her reasonable inspection, thereafter observed it then it may be difficult to prove a negligence claim.

If however the property owner knew that the pieces were present and recognized this as a dangerous condition (perception based upon the average reasonable person), then you would have a negligence claim.

It was wise to complete an incident report and you will want to request their insurance policy information as early as possible. Once received, you will want to submit a claim for damages to the insurance company.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here , or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Published: September 3, 2011

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