Does A Property Owner Have Constitutional Rights In A Slip And Fall Hearing?

If you experience a slip and fall or personal injury on someone else’s property, both the injured party and the property need to know their rights during a court case. A slip and fall injury can result in harm or damages caused to the victim, like broken bones, concussions, loss of life, bodily injuries, loss of limbs and much more as a result of negligence on the part of the property owner. The victim of a slip and fall injury may choose to file a lawsuit or claim to recover or get compensated for suffering, injuries, lost wages and medical bills. However, it is not always an easy win because the property also has constitutional rights that they can use to win a case against the victim.

Constitutional Rights Rejected In A City Slip Fall Case USA flag gavel

If a case has been filed against a property owner, the owner has the constitutional right to hire an attorney to seek justice as well if they think that they have done nothing wrong. In many cases, hiring an attorney will allow the owner to settle the case out of court.

If a slip and fall injury happens on someone’s property, the victim has the right to take the case to the court of law. This is potentially where it can get tricky, as was evidenced in the case of Marlene Slater versus the City of Philadelphia, a situation where the slip and fall accident involved the city. Ms. Slater and the City of Philadelphia were both taken to court in connection with a slip and fall accident on the salon owner’s (Slater’s) property. The City of Philadelphia was held secondarily liable in this instance and initiated a cross-claim against Ms. Slater.

Ms. Slater was not keen to pay a $20,000 settlement between the City and Ms. Anita King, the victim of the slip and fall incident. The cross-claim resulted in $20,000 to be awarded in favor of the city and against Ms. Slater, which she later appealed.

However, the judgment was entered in favor of the City and the property owner was ordered to pay an amount to the tune of $7,500, which she later did not appeal. According to Ms. Slater, she felt that her constitutional right had been violated, but the City argued that she did not meet the legal standard for reducing danger liability either. Moreover, to win the state-created danger theory, she needed to prove that the defendants (the city) acted with a degree of culpability, which she could not.

Circumstances Where A Property Owner Has No Rights

While a property owner may be able to counter appeal in the case of a slip and fall accident, their rights are limited if Lady justice negligence on their part can be proven, as was the case with Ms. Slater. If a property owner fails to sustain safe environments for people visiting, then a person who has been harmed on their property due to negligence will be able to file a claim against them, and potentially win the case. Here are some factors where a property owner may not have constitutional rights.

  • Failure to ensure staircases are intact and not crumbling.
  • Incapacity to ensure wet floors are dried and cleaned regularly.
  • Exposed electrical wiring triggering hazardous shocks.
  • Failure to remove ice build ups from sidewalks and entrances during winters.
  • No clear demarcation for areas where flooring is raised or different from other areas.
  • Negligence to remove obstructions from pathways.
  • Dark walkways and entryways.


Failure to take these types of actions will reduce a property owner’s constitutional rights in a slip and fall accident, and will result in a strong case being made against them. Be aware that premises liability law is created to protect people who have been injured as a result of negligence, but it sometimes can be hard to prove liability as well.