Slip and Fall Accidents: How to Take Action

Category: Slip and Fall

More Info: Premises Liability

How does one take action if they have been involved in a slip and fall accident? Gary tells us and pinpoints the importance of being prepared with sufficient proof.

What are the first steps taken in a slip and fall case?

Commonplace premises liability cases are varied. In the subcategory of slip and fall accidents, typical cases are slipping on a wet floor, falling because of a defective stairway, or falling because of a cracked walkway. The goal of premises liability law is to place the plaintiff in a position he would have been in, but for the negligent behavior of the defendant.

A reasonable pre-filing investigation is a necessity before action is contemplated. The filing of the Petition or Complaint must set forth facts that support a legal theory for monetary recovery. The best practice is to follow the patterned jury instructions of the chosen venue as a guidepost.

For premises liability, with some exception, an injured party in Missouri must file within five years of the injury, in Illinois two years, and three years in New York.

The injured party’s pleading, in most cases, is filed in the court of the same county where the injury occurred. It is important to learn the time limitations of the lawsuit, which are different for each category of cases capable of litigation. If these limitations are not followed, after receiving the defendant’s motion, the court will issue an order barring consideration of the case, regardless of its underlying merits. These time limits, called Statutes of Limitation, vary and are determined by the legislative bodies of each state.

What proof should be collected for such a case?

“Two keywords, unreasonable and foreseeable, have spawned much litigation in the United States.”

To succeed in a lawsuit, a plaintiff must plead and prove, before a jury or judge (if a bench trial), that the responsible party or parties were legally responsible. There is no absolute liability in typical premises liability cases. This means the responsible party must be the owner or proven to have a legal ownership interest in the property causing the plaintiff’s injuries. In the example of a slip and fall case, where a plaintiff injures his leg, because of an accumulation of water in a grocery store, if the plaintiff establishes an ownership nexus, of the putative defendant, then that person owes a duty of providing a safe shopping environment.

The plaintiff must prove by the greater weight of the evidence, a violation of that duty by some action or inaction. The law refers to the violation of this duty as negligence. Negligence may be distilled to: Did the owner (defendant) either by his actions or inaction create a reasonably foreseeable, unreasonable risk of injury to the plaintiff.

“Thus, Counsel for the plaintiff must learn when the dangerous condition occurred.”

Two keywords, unreasonable and foreseeable, have spawned much litigation in the United States. An event (accumulating water on the floor) causing an injury (a broken leg) must be proven, before answering the ultimate question of whether the property owner used reasonable care to prevent the slip and fall. The defendant must know or be charged with knowing about the hazardous accumulation of water.

Even if the defendant did not know of the hazard, he may be charged with knowledge of it, if the plaintiff convinces the trier of fact that the defendant should have objectively known of the dangerous condition, which resulted in the plaintiff’s injury and damages. Furthermore, the injury must be a foreseeable result of the defendant’s lack of due care. The defendant must have reasonable notice of a dangerous condition and the failure to act causing the likelihood of the resulting injury.

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