Slip & Fall Law in Rhode Island

slip & fall signageA recent change to the law in Rhode Island will make slip and fall cases easier for injured plaintiffs to recover. Prior to the passage of this 2019 law, insurance companies would use the argument of an “open and obvious” danger, as a total bar to the plaintiff’s recovery. With the new slip and fall law in Rhode Island, passed on July 15, 2019, this barrier to recovery on a slip and fall accident in Rhode Island, is forever removed. For instance, prior to this law a landlord that had an “open and obvious” defect due to its size or location, such as a violation of the state’s building code, may have been able to claim the person injured on their property was negligent due to the “open and obvious” nature of the danger. Many Rhode Island personal injury attorneys are in support of the new law, while others feel it will create issues such as compromising the court’s ability to resolve cases in a timely manner and generate pressure on landlords.

How Changes Will Affect the Rhode Island Slip & Fall Law

Prior to the enactment of the new law, insurance companies were able to keep plaintiff’s slip and fall cases away from the jury. Landlords and their insurance companies would be able to skirt any responsibility for your injury, if they could convince a judge that the danger was open and obvious. That is, defense counsel would file a motion to dismiss your case with an argument that plaintiff should have been aware of the danger, since it was an open and obvious defect.  With the removal of this barrier to slip and fall cases in Rhode Island, more claims will now be able to proceed to a jury for their findings of defendant’s negligence.

A defendant landlord can still argue an open and obvious defect. However, with this updated slip and fall law in Rhode Island, their use of open and obvious, in the slip and fall forum, would be restricted to apportionment of assumption of the risk and comparative fault upon the plaintiff.  Prior to this new legislation, such a slip and fall case would never even get to the jury. Open and obvious was a complete bar to recovery for an injured plaintiff. The majority of the states in the union, 38 to be exact, already have adopted the same standard. This is a historic and significant change in premises liability law in Rhode Island. It corrects an inaccuracy and unfairness within the law. For example, if a store owner had a defect that violated state building codes and had been left unrepaired for months, that store owner may have been able to get the plaintiff’s case dismissed simply by arguing that the defect was open and obvious and should have been seen by the plaintiff.  The slip and fall law in Rhode Island now corrects the requirement of a Goldilocks-type negligence standard upon the defendant. That is, if the defect was too significant, the defendant would argue open and obvious as a complete bar to recovery. However, if the defect was too minimal, they would argue that it wasn’t significant enough to cause the injury that resulted in client’s compensatory damages. The only way an injured victim could have been successful previously, was if the defect was just right, a.k.a. the Goldilocks standard.

Contact a Providence Personal Injury Lawyer After a Slip & Fall Accident

Slip and fall accidents, as with all premise liability cases, are some of the most difficult types of personal injury claims in Rhode Island. Even with the removal of open and obvious as a complete bar to the recovery of the plaintiff, slip and fall cases are still extremely complex. However, at least now these cases which would have been prevented and dismissed by open and obvious, can now be presented to a jury for their decision.  Should you find yourself injured due to a premise liability incident or slip and fall in Rhode Island, it is essential that you have a competent Rhode Island slip and fall attorney like David Tapalian present your case. As you can see, slip and fall law is very challenging. Even with this new update of the law and the removal of an open and obvious defense, competent counsel is essential if you are to be successful with your claim. At Tapalian Law, we provide a free consultation and review of your Rhode Island personal injury case. Attorney David Tapalian will meet with you and/or speak directly with you the same day you contact us, and immediately put his 20 years of premise liability experience to work for you.  With personal injury offices conveniently located in RI and MA, we are ready to help you now. Contact experienced RI personal injury lawyer David Tapalian today for a no-obligations, free consultation at


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