Was the hazard that caused the Slip or Trip "Open and Obvious?"

Open and obvious means was the hazard that caused the Slip or Trip and consequential fall "easily seen." Meaning, should the plaintiff have seen the hazard in order to avoid it? If the hazard was hard to see, like a white spill on a white floor, then a plaintiff must move on to the following other steps to see if there is indeed liability (a breach of duty between the entity that had ownership and control over the hazard, and the injured party). Sometimes the hazard should have been seen by the injured person, like dark coca cola on a white floor. The harder the hazard is to be seen, the easier it is for an injured party to get past this step. Remember, this step is always subject to attack by the defense, so the better facts to support "hard to see hazard" the better.


Was the hazard within the control or dominion of the breaching party or entity?

Did the breaching party have control over the hazard in any way? For example, a store has a leaking air conditioner from the ceiling and it continually leaks, or some shampoo from a shampoo rack fell off the shelf and onto the floor constituting a hazardous condition. The more facts a plaintiff has to support this step the better in achieving this burden of review on control or dominion. Remember, a good defense is a store or entity saying the hazard was caused by someone else (like a customer that just left the store, and dropped the banana peel right before he or she exited).


Did the breaching party or entity have Notice of the dangerous condition or hazard?

Notice of the hazard can be divided into two groupings: Actual notice, and constructive notice. Actual notice means the entity or breaching party knew of the hazard because it was in plain site, or there is any evidence showing they simply knew it existed. Constructive notice means the entity or breaching party should have known about the hazard. This should have known standard usually goes to a duty to reasonably inspect the premises. This is why stores carry "sweep logs" that always check and document for any debris on their floors caused by shelving, or even other customers. So you have to prove on or the other, or both. If you have both, then obviously your claim for damages grows stronger.


Did the breaching party or entity fail to remedy the hazard within reasonable time after having notice of the hazard?

If a breaching party or entity failed to remedy a hazard within reasonable time after having notice of the dangerous condition, or hazard that caused a fall injury, then your chances of having a good negligence action for damages increases. Using the banana example in Step 2 above, if the banana was on the ground for a long time, then the facts supporting liability for the injured party increases; if the banana had recently been placed there by falling out of a customer's bag or what not, then the facts supporting a failure to remedy a dangerous condition lessens.