In our experience with slip and falls, the culprit is usually a foreign substance spilled on a walking surface (often in grocery and retail stores), or defects/other tripping hazardsewa in the sidewalk, on the road, or on walkways/flights of stairs. However, there are many different things that can cause a slip and fall accident.
What Does The Injured Party Need To Prove In A Slip And Fall Personal Injury Case?
If a person tripped on a defect in a specific sidewalk, road, walkway, or flight of stairs, it’s a matter of measuring the to see if it’s a violation of code. If a person slipped on a foreign substance, we have to prove that the person responsible either caused the condition, had notice of the condition, or did not detect the existing condition for an unreasonable amount of time.
For example, let’s say someone claims they slipped on a grape at the supermarket. Specifically, they claimed they slipped on a grape in the diaper aisle of one of those large warehouse grocery stores. As attorneys, we have to ask several questions. How did that happen? Were there grapes in the diaper aisle deliberately, or did somebody with a shopping cart just spill some grapes? Did the claimant themselves spill some grapes? Or is the claimant possibly misremembering, and actually slipped in the produce aisle rather than the diaper aisle? Almost all of these stores are now equipped with CCTV cameras, so we can examine that footage and line it up against the claimant’s account of what happened.
What Are The Biggest Misconceptions That People Have About Being Successful In A Slip And Fall Injury Claim?
One thing that people often misunderstand, or do not know about in the first place, is the concept of a notice provision. In order to successfully prove a slip and fall claim, you have to show that the liable person was negligent, either by creating the condition, failing to maintain the property, or knowing about the condition and failing to remedy it or warn people about it.
The concept of “notice” means that the owner knew or reasonably should have known about the dangerous condition. There are two types of notice: actual notice, and constructive notice. Actual notice means there is proof that the owner was aware of the dangerous situation, either because they directly saw it or because they were directly told about it by another person. Constructive notice means that while the owner may not have directly observed or been told about the dangerous condition, they reasonably should have been aware of it. Constructive notice is usually proven by showing that the condition existed for a sufficiently long period of time, during which the owner should have discovered it while performing routine maintenance.
To prove liability and get any financial settlement, you need to show that the owner had actual and/or constructive notice. You must also prove that the owner had sufficient time to repair the dangerous condition once they became aware of it.
This proof looks somewhat different in every case. As attorneys, we build our case by asking questions about the dangerous condition, how long it had been that way, and whether other people mentioned it to the owner. Because there is no automatic liability, we construct an argument for liability.
For example, let’s say the maintenance personnel in a car dealership failed to clean up spilled coffee grounds on the floor, and it remained there for one hour. A woman then came into the dealership, slipped on the coffee grounds, and injured her back.
In a case like this, the coffee grounds weren’t there for a very long amount of time, so the defense may argue that the dealership cannot be responsible. However, contextually, one hour is a very long time for coffee grounds to be on the floor of an operational car dealership without anyone noticing or passing by. A skillful attorney would try to argue that someone may have noticed, but simply failed to do their job and clean it up promptly, which may indicate liability. They would also conduct an in-depth investigation of the coffee grounds situation, the CCTV cameras, and the overall maintenance practices, as well as extensive interviews of any potential witnesses.
This investigative and argument-building work is why it’s crucial to hire an attorney as soon as possible for slip and fall cases. Evidence can have a very short shelf life, as can peoples’ recollections of events. The sooner an attorney is on the case, the better your chances of a good outcome.
What Steps Should Someone Take If They Are Injured At A Place Of Business As Opposed To Being Injured On Someone’S Personal Property?
For a place of business, you want to file an accident report always and show them that it happened right there and then and keep a copy of that accident report. This way they’ll never successfully claim the accident did not happen at their location.
Should I Sign Any Kind Of A Statement If I Have Been Injured At A Place Of Business?
If you have been injured at a place of business, you should not sign anything. You should simply take the names, contact information, and addresses of all witnesses.
How Do You Determine The Viability Of A Personal Injury Claim?
The viability of a personal injury claim depends firstly on the facts of the case. If we think we can make a case that there was a defect or act of negligence, then the claim may be viable. After an investigation, results are formed and evidence for a more specific and stronger case is gathered. You need pictures, witnesses, testimonies, and other elements of proof to help make the case viable. Once that evidence is gathered, we make a more concrete determination on whether we think a case is viable.
Another factor that determines the viability of a case is the insurance coverage or the payout potential of the at-fault party. We take most cases on contingency and have a strong policy that nothing is out-of-pocket for our clients. We only get paid if our clients get paid. As a part of that policy, we have to make sure that the cases we pursue have a substantial enough payout to renumerate us for our time and labor in addition to fully compensating our client for their losses.
Does Liability Have To Be Crystal Clear Before Moving Forward On A Case?
As attorneys, we research liability, we research case law, and we examine potential judge and jury reactions regarding each case. We use that research and examination to determine whether a give case is a weak case or a strong case. Sometimes, liability is questionable. New York is a comparative fault state. This means that the fault or liability of each party depends on their contribution to the incident, and a person can recover damages even if they were partially at fault. On our end, this means that if a portion of damages or negligence can be attributed to the defendant, we’ll go ahead.
Cases where liability isn’t clear tend to be more difficult are riskier. They often require more time, money, and resources, and if you fail to make a strong case for liability, you may only get a reduced settlement, if you get one at all. Still, we don’t take cases we don’t believe in. If we take a case, we believe that there is at least a chance of success.
For more information on Slip & Fall or Trip & Fall Injury Claims In NY, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (631) 467-0700 today.
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