Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Components of a WINNING Slip-and-Fall or Trip-and-Fall Case

If you have been injured at some “big box store,” and you are having a hard time finding an attorney that will run with your case, you are not alone.  Slip and Fall (and Trip and Fall) cases can be very difficult to win and expensive to litigate.  Part of the problem is that to prove your case, you have to show that the store has some “fault” for what happened. Most people feel like “well, I was injured on their property, so that means they have to take care of me.”  That is simply not the case. 

Consider an incident where you slipped on water on the floor at the store.  Remember, since you are the Plaintiff, since you are the one making the claim, you have to prove that someone else was at fault for causing the injury.  Therefore, generally, you need to prove ONE of TWO things:

(1)  The store spilled the water there.
(2)  Some other customer spilled the water there and the store had sufficient time to clean it up, but did not do so. 

So that you can prove one or the other, here are some valuable tips that you want to consider if at possible before you leave the store (remember your health is the first priority ALWAYS):

1.     Where did the water come from?  Is there a leak somewhere in the store?  Is there a customer that spilled a water bottle? 
2.     WITNESSES.  This is huge.  Can you find other customers that not only saw you fall, but perhaps saw that puddle of water sitting there for some period of time?  Get their names and contact numbers. 
3.     PHOTOS.  Use your phone, take pictures of the area or have someone you are with take the photos.  Try to capture the water spill the best that you can.  Try to include a picture from further away that captures the water spill in context with the surrounding area.   
4.     Ask yourself the question, “why didn’t I see this puddle?”  This leads into the “Open and Obvious Defense.”  The most common argument made to defeat or decrease a Slip and Fall or Trip and Fall claim is the Open and Obvious Defense.  The essence of that defense is that a person should be able to take perfectly good care of themselves when faced with a potential hazard that is open and obvious.  You need to be able to put into words the reasons why you did not see the puddle of water. 

Too often, injured parties rely on the store’s video surveillance equipment to records what happened.  You overestimate the quality of the videotape!  If that video provides some added support to your case, then let that serve as dessert rather then the main meal. 

Remember, because of the difficulty of many of these cases, there are a large number of attorneys that will simply “tune out” the moment they hear you mention “I slipped at the store.”  But, you will greatly increase your chances of success if you can accomplish those items listed above.