While slip/trip-and-fall injuries are one of the most common types of injuries (millions of Americans will be injured by slip-and-fall accidents this year and approximately 14,000 people will die as a result of their injuries), they can also be one of the most difficult for attorneys to win. They are often undervalued by defense counsel and insurance companies, and many plaintiffs’ attorneys don’t know how to properly establish these claims.
Photograph and document the unreasonably dangerous condition that caused the fall as soon as possible.
Do not talk to the insurance company or give a written or recorded statement to the insurance company without talking to the Easton & Easton, LLP.
Call Easton & Easton, LLP as soon as possible so we can advise you what to do next.
Slip/trip-and-fall accidents can occur in a variety of locations: supermarkets, restaurants, private residences, commercial buildings, parking structures, airports, bus terminals, train stations, public sidewalks and roadways, etc.
There is a reason for every fall, but these reasons may not always be obvious or clear. In order to be successful in a slip/trip-and-fall case, the plaintiff must establish that the reason for the fall was a dangerous condition or hazard that existed on the premises, which created an unreasonable risk of harm to the plaintiff, and that this unreasonably dangerous condition was either created by the defendant or had existed for sufficient time that the defendant should have become aware of the condition and rectified it.
But, very often in slip/trip-and-fall cases, the only witness to the incident is the victim. In such cases, proving that a dangerous condition caused the plaintiff’s fall will often depend entirely on the effectiveness of the available evidence (such as pictures of the site), documenting the nature of the condition, gathering useful discovery responses from the defendant regarding the premises and its upkeep, and employing skilled and experienced experts to prove that the condition was a dangerous slipping or tripping hazard.
For example, where a fall occurs due to a slip on a surface that has been made wet by liquid (such as rain or water from sprinklers), the plaintiff will need to show that the surface created a dangerous condition when wet. This can best be done through the measurements of an experienced expert showing that the coefficient of friction on the surface was too low when wet, which created an unreasonable slipping hazard, taking into account other factors such as the presence of handrails, treads, risers, etc. as well.
Where a fall has occurred as a result of an elevated lip on a public sidewalk, the plaintiff must show that the defect in the sidewalk is not trivial, usually by showing that the increase in elevation of the lip was more than ¾ of an inch. The plaintiff’s expert may also consider other factors like the demographics of use, the reasonable expectations of a pedestrian in that area, and any features in the area likely to distract the pedestrian’s attention or disrupt the pedestrian’s line of sight.
Where a fall has occurred in a store due to a slippery condition created by something that was spilled on the floor by some unknown person, the store may be held liable for the fall if the plaintiff can prove that the store had notice of the spill or should have had notice of the spill under the circumstances because of how long the spill had been present on the floor. Experienced attorneys and experts know how to prove this through eyewitness testimony, market sweeping logs and cleaning records, and other forms of evidence.
All of these types of cases require special elements of proof to establish that the condition causing the fall was an unreasonably dangerous hazard for which the defendant had notice and should be held liable.