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Do I have a slip and fall case if hazard signs are posted?

We've all seen hazard signs before. Maybe it's at a department store, where a janitor posts a wet floor sign after mopping. Or perhaps it's a sign advising you watch out for a ledge or large step down. 

There are all kinds of signs in the world telling us to be careful. These signs are meant to protect the public, and protect the owner of a premises from liability in the case of an accident. Often these accidents are in the form of a slip and fall.

This begs the question: Whose fault is a slip and fall if signs are posted?

The question seems easy, but it isn't. Each of us has a duty to practice "reasonableness." This is a tricky term, as it is vague in meaning. It can be equally vague in legal cases.

The idea is that we must all be reasonably aware of our surroundings. That means if a reasonable person would notice a hazard, you may be liable for your own injury, even if it takes place on someone else's property. This is part of the reason the sign question is so difficult.

Posted signage that is easily seen and understood is often considered reasonable. However, there are times where even with posted signs, you may be able to pursue damages in a personal injury case. Some examples include:

  • The signage is not easily seen
  • There is damage to the sign making it hard to read or less noticeable
  • The signage is not clear or easy to understand
  • The signage doesn't adequately describe the risks

It may seem like if a sign urges caution, you would be liable for your own injuries. That isn't always the case. Even if there are warning signs, you may still be able to pursue recovery of damages.

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