Who Can Be Held Liable for a Slip and Fall Accident?

Wet floor that may lead to a slip and fall accident.You might hold various parties liable for your slip and fall accident, including residential property owners, businesses, property managers, employees of contractors, third parties such as customers, the government, the manufacturer or distributor of a defective product, or the workers’ compensation system.

Each year, over 800,000 people suffer slip and fall accidents serious enough to require hospitalization. All told, people spend over $50 billion in medical bills every year due to slip and fall accidents. When someone’s misconduct injures you, however, you are entitled to compensation for more than your medical bills.

Possible Defendants in a Slip and Fall Lawsuit

In most cases, an insurance company will pay your slip and fall claim. Whom to file a claim against, however, depends on the specific facts of your case. Most claimants file their slip and fall lawsuits against residential and commercial property owners. You can sue other defendants if the facts warrant it, however. Following is a list of some of the most common defendants.

Residential Property Owners

If you fell and hurt yourself in a private home, you might file a slip and fall lawsuit against the homeowner. This is possible even if you did not receive a specific invitation to come to the property. You could sue a homeowner, for example, as a postal carrier who suffered a slip and fall accident due to a dangerous condition on the property. Homeowners’ insurance policies typically cover slip and fall accidents.


Many slip and fall accidents occur at commercial establishments. You might fall on an escalator maintained by a department store, for example. In this case, you might win a slip and fall lawsuit (or settlement) against the business regardless of whether the business owned or rented the property.

Property Managers

The manager of a property owned by someone else might bear liability for your accident under certain circumstances. The manager of an apartment complex might bear liability, for example, especially if your injury occurred in a common area such as a courtyard.

Employees or Contractors of the Owner

You might file a slip and fall lawsuit against a party who was working for the property owner—an elevator maintenance company, for example. In this case, you would probably want to add the property owner as a second defendant.

Customers or Other Third-Party Individuals

You might file a slip and fall lawsuit against an individual, such as a customer at a business, who committed a careless act such as tossing a banana peel onto the floor, if that act caused your accident.


If you slipped and fell on state, local, or federal government property, you might file a slip and fall lawsuit against the government. Both Iowa and the federal government allow injured parties to sue them under certain circumstances. Procedures and deadlines can vary significantly from ordinary slip and fall claims, however.

Manufacturers of Defective Products

A defective product, such as a badly designed escalator, might have caused your injury. If so, you might be able to win a product liability claim against the manufacturer without even having to prove that the manufacturer was negligent.

Workers’ Compensation

If you suffered an injury on the job, your only option might be to file a workers’ compensation claim. If so, your recovery will be far more limited than if you filed an ordinary injury lawsuit. In some cases, however, you can file a claim against a third party such as a property owner in addition to pursuing a workers’ compensation claim.

Suing More Than One Defendant

You are not limited to claiming against a single defendant. You might, for example, file a slip and fall claim against both a building owner and a maintenance contractor, if the facts of your case demonstrate that both are liable. In most cases, you can sue an employer for the on-duty wrongful acts of their employee—which means you can file a claim against both of them. This is not the only situation in which you might file a claim against more than one defendant.

The “Deep Pockets” Principle

The “deep pockets” principle states that it is better to file a claim against a defendant who can easily afford to pay. It is better, for example, to sue Wal-Mart for a slip and fall accident than to sue a Wal-Mart employee. Although you might file a claim against both, a minimum wage employee might not be worth bothering with.

Comparative Fault

Many accidents are caused by more than one party. More than one defendant might share liability, for example, or the defendant might share liability with the injured party. In this situation, Iowa allows the fault to be apportioned among parties to the claim. If you share fault, the value of your claim will be reduced in proportion to your percentage of fault. If you are determined to have been more than 50% at fault, however, you will receive nothing.

Joint and Several Liability

Suing multiple defendants can get you more than one “bite at the apple” if one or more of the defendants can’t afford to pay your claim. If you claim against multiple defendants, and if one of them is at least 50% at fault, joint and several liability allow you to collect from them the economic damages caused by all defendants and force that defendant to collect from the other defendants.

The Injury Lawyers at 303 Legal, P.C., Stand Ready to Help You

The slip and fall accident attorneys at 303 Legal, P.C., enjoy extensive experience resolving every kind of slip and fall lawsuit, both inside and outside the courtroom. Contact us immediately so that we can begin an investigation and vigorously pursue your slip and fall claim.

Fill out our online contact form, call our office directly at 319-423-3031, or visit our office in Cedar Rapids, IA. The sooner you contact us, the better your chances of a full recovery will be. Don’t forget — at 303 Legal, P.C., you only pay us if we win.