Slip and fall claims are a form of personal injury lawsuit whereby a person slips or trips and sustains an injury on someone else’s property. These lawsuits form part of the broader group of cases called premises liability cases. Slip and fall accidents oftentimes occur on property or premises under someone else’s ownership or maintenance. In most instances, the property owner is liable for the accident victim’s injuries or damages.
A slip and fall accident may occur due to a variety of hazardous conditions, including torn carpeting, broken or narrow stairs, wet floors, and poor lighting. It may also happen when a person trips on a broken public walkway or falls down several stairs. Hidden hazards like potholes in parking lots and ice, snow, or rain outside the premises may also result in a slip and fall case.
There is no specific formula for determining when another person is liable in a slip and fall incident. Each claim depends on whether the property owner exercised reasonable care to reduce the likelihood of a slip or trip happening and whether the fall victim was reckless in not detecting or avoiding the hazardous condition that led to his or her fall injuries.
A person who suffers an injury after a slip and fall on a property owned or under the care of another person must demonstrate that the accident was directly caused by a hazardous condition. He or she must also prove that the property or business owner was aware of the hazardous condition.
The hazardous condition must expose a person on the property or premises to unjustifiable risks, and that condition should be something the injured person shouldn’t have expected at all. The latter requirement suggests individuals must see and avoid noticeable hazards.
To demonstrate that the property owner or manager was aware of the hazardous condition, the injured party must demonstrate the following:
- The owner or manager created the hazardous condition;
- The owner or manager was aware of the existence of the condition and failed or refused to fix it; or
- The condition lasted for a considerable period that the owner or manager should have noticed and fixed before the slip and fall incident at issue.
Quality, well-detailed photographs and videos of the fall accident scene usually capture information like hazardous substances or conditions, employee name tags, and fall victim’s injuries as well as his or her shoes and clothes. Pictures and videos are crucial in recreating the fall incident, if necessary.
This evidence constitutes details of unbiased witnesses willing to testify in court. Essential witness details include name, phone number, email, and address.
An incident report contains details of an event as narrated by the victim and/or witness of the event. Public places, such as government institutions, theme parks, and restaurants, usually prepare incident reports. A copy of the report is often issued to the fall victim.
Most business owners have installed surveillance cameras on their premises. These cameras may have recorded the incident and provide crucial evidence in answering questions about when, where, and what caused the fall accident. A lawyer can review the surveillance camera footage to determine whether the business owner was liable for the accident or the injured party was just negligent.
Medical bills and medical reports show that the fall incident indeed happened and resulted in the plaintiff’s injuries. These records specify the type of injuries sustained by the plaintiff and the cost incurred in their treatment.
Plaintiff can secure both economic damages and non-economic damages in slip and fall claims. Medical bills, future medical costs, rehabilitation, and medication costs, and lost wages are some of the economic damages a plaintiff may recover. The plaintiff may also recover non-economic damages like lack of consortium, lack of enjoyment of life, and pain and emotional distress.
A personal injury lawyer can investigate the fall incident, review witness statements, and obtain enough evidence to demonstrate that a business owner was at fault, and therefore legally responsible for the fall victim’s injuries. The lawyer can also determine the value of the fall victim’s injury claim to ensure he or she gets fair compensation for the losses incurred.