How to prove fault in a slip and fall accident
Plaintiffs can seek settlements for slip and fall injuries when they have significant damages due to another person’s negligence. Proving this negligence, or fault, is the most difficult part of a slip-and-fall case. Simply falling on another person's property or business premises, no matter how serious the injury, is not enough.
For example, an inebriated shopper would probably not be compensated if the person slipped and fell in a supermarket. A court would likely find those actions put that person at fault for their own injuries. Another shopper may not receive a settlement if the individual slipped on soda that spilled seconds before, because there was not enough time for employees to take action and clean up the soda.
Evidence of negligence
An accident report
An initial accident report is an impartial account of the incident which caused the plaintiff's injuries. Plaintiffs should report slip-and-fall accidents as soon as possible to ensure accident reports are filed. An accident report placed in a timely fashion makes a case seem more credible.
Records of damages
A record of financial and non-financial damages can help prove the impact of incident on the defendant. Records may include the following items:
- Bills for medical expenses
- Medical reports
- Record of lost wages
- Bills for therapy sessions
The testimony of relevant witnesses can also help strengthen the plaintiff's case. Relevant witnesses might include the following people:
- Impartial observers who witnessed the incident
- Employees, in cases against a business
- Medical professionals who can testify to the plaintiff's physical or mental injuries
Pictures of the accident scene
Pictures of the accident scene can allow the judge and jury, if applicable, to see the conditions faced by the plaintiff. Images should highlight factors that led to the accident, such as any tripping hazards or areas of disrepair. Pictures from a range of angles can help create a clear picture of the accident scene.
Clothing worn by plaintiff
It may also be useful for the plaintiff to present the clothing and footwear worn as evidence to prove the items worn did not contribute to the incident. For example, if the plaintiff wore sneakers with heavy tread, one could expectthat person had appropriate footwear to step securely.
Video from the accident scene
If the incident occurred in a business's premises, the plaintiff may be able to secure closed circuit television (CCTV) footage. This footage will show the incident, and the moments before and after it, which could help strengthen the plaintiff's case. As businesses do not keep their tapes indefinitely, plaintiffs should send notice to businesses to preserve video evidence as soon as possible.
Do I need a personal injury lawyer?
Plaintiffs always have the right to defend themselves in any civil case, but it's often best to use the services of a personal injury lawyer, whose authority will provide more leverage when dealing with large companies.
"Stores fight slip and fall cases so you want someone who is used to dealing with big companies and big insurance companies."
Daniel Nelson Deasy, Colorado Personal Injury attorney
Benefits of obtaining a personal injury lawyer
A number of benefits exist to partnering with a personal injury lawyer for your slip-and-fall case, including:
- Experience at assessing claims, which can help you avoid an expensive legal battle if your case isn't strong.
- Experience working with other lawyers and insurance companies.
- Guidance, which can help plaintiffs navigate legal procedures and paperwork.
- Access to a team of investigators.
- Better outcomes on average, whether plaintiffs settle before court or go to trial.
Whether you have suffered a slip-and-fall injury, or are fighting slip-and-fall charges leveled against you, talk to a local personal injury attorney to access your case.