Slip and fall cases are notoriously difficult to resolve, but if you or a loved one has been injured in a fall as a result of another party’s negligence, there are steps you can take to improve the odds of recovering damages.
First, it is important to understand that simply falling and being injured on someone else’s property does not necessarily provide a right to financial recovery. A potential plaintiff must establish a number of legal elements to successfully recover damages in a slip and fall case, including that the fall and subsequent injury were caused by a dangerous condition present on the property. This element is sometimes difficult to prove, as the issue of what exactly constitutes a “dangerous condition” is not always obvious. A wet floor, for example, may not be dangerous if it is damp carpet, but a puddle on a hard floor can of course easily cause one to lose balance and fall. But perhaps a spill on a hard floor is well-marked with cones or caution tape; the spill may be viewed as not dangerous in this situation and the particular details of a given fact scenario become very important, therefore, to establishing whether a dangerous condition existed on the property at the time of the fall and injury.
or this reason, it is vitally important to document the physical circumstances of the scene at the time of the injury. After summoning help and taking the proper steps to secure appropriate medical treatment, it is best to take photographs if possible. Of course one who has just fallen and sustained an injury is often not in a position to take them, but certainly if you are present with a friend or loved one who falls and is hurt, take as many and as detailed pictures of the scene as you can.
A slip and fall should also be immediately reported to the property owner or manager, or employees if the fall and injury occurs on business premises. Businesses often have internal reporting procedures for documenting injuries on their premises, and one should make sure that such a report is created whenever possible.
A successful plaintiff in a slip and fall case must also establish that someone responsible for the maintenance of the property had knowledge of the dangerous condition that caused the fall and injury. This element of slip and fall cases often becomes the most difficult to prove, as a business, for example, can defend a claim by simply claiming that its employees were not aware of the wet floor that caused its customer to fall.
A plaintiff, however, does not need to establish that any employee had actual knowledge of the dangerous condition; the fact that the business had constructive is sufficient. For example, had a floor been wet for an hour before the fall and injury occurred, it may be reasonable to assume that an employee should have discovered the dangerous condition, even if one actually did not.
To establish actual or constructive knowledge, witness testimony is critical. Obtaining statements from witnesses – including employees when possible – is another way to strengthen a potential claim for recovery in a slip and fall case.
While slip and fall cases are notoriously difficult to resolve, keeping these issues in mind can dramatically improve the odds for success. If you have been injured in a slip and fall accident, contact The Carroll Law Firm at 623-551-9366 for a free consultation!