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The Basics of Trip-and-Fall Law



Every year, thousands of lawsuits are filed by people who are injured in trip and fall incidents. Understanding the elements governing this area of law can help those trying to decide whether they have a case worth filing.

Trip-and-fall cases, sometimes called slip-and-fall, generally involve some sort of hazardous condition on a walking surface. The key is determining whether the owner of the property where the injury occurred is at fault.

In a typical slip, trip and fall case, there is either something wrong with the walking surface, such as an uneven sidewalk, or there is some temporary condition which makes the walking surface dangerous, such as something spilled on the floor.

Generally, cases where the surface has some long-term issue, such as the uneven sidewalk, are easier to prove. Courts will consider that the property owner must have known about the condition and had ample time to correct it, but failed to do so.

In cases where the condition is temporary, such as water on a tile floor, the court will try to figure out how the water got there, how long it had been there, and whether the property owner made any attempt to clean it up or to warn people of the slip hazard.

At the same time, the court will look at the person who fell and ask whether that person was paying attention, whether he or she should have noticed the condition of the walking surface and avoided the problem area, and whether the condition was natural or man-made. A natural condition might be a tree root or an uneven grassy area, where people cant expect as smooth a walking surface as they might expect in a store or parking lot.

Gathering Evidence for your Trip-and-Fall Case

When you suffer an injury from falling on someone elses property, you should act quickly to gather evidence of the conditions that caused you to fall. If you are able, use your cell phone to photograph the place where you fell or ask someone else to take a picture.

Keep a record of what you saw and felt, and what you were doing just prior to falling. Also write down anything that is said by those who come to help you. For example, if someone comes to help you up and says, "Boy, thats some crack in that sidewalk," take note and ask the witness if you can have his or her name and contact information. This observation by the witness may be useful later.

If you have been injured seriously enough that you need medical attention, lose time from work, or require any sort of long-term treatment, you should consider consulting with premises liability attorneys, a type of personal injury attorney, who can help you determine what sort of compensation youre entitled to. Your lawyer will negotiate with the property owners insurance company for you, and, if necessary, file a lawsuit for you.