In legalese, slip or trip and fall cases are often known as premise liability cases. Often these cases involve serious injuries such as fractures and ligament tears that need significant medical attention and even surgery.
Often, these cases are tougher to win than clear liability rear-end auto accidents and strict liability dog bite cases as these cases often come with many challenges and the potential of litigation and high costs. However, if the cases are handled correctly from the beginning, then costs can be kept minimal and liability can be convincingly established. Recently Kohn Law Office has won cases involving slips and falls at large department stores and grocery outlets such as Sears, Fry's Electronics, Ralphs grocery store, Seafood City, and Smart & Final. We've also won cases involving trips and falls at shopping centers, hotels, and restaurants such as The Westfield Mall, Shakey's Pizza, and McDonald's.
When pursuing a premise liability case, it is important to keep in mind these 5 elements of success:
- Reporting the incident to the property manager or owner as soon as possible
- Gathering witness information
- Documenting the scene and the dangerous conditions promptly
- Obtaining prompt medical attention
- Contacting an experienced personal injury attorney promptly
Reporting the Incident to the Property Manager or Owner
First, it is always important to report the incident to an employee and request an incident report be prepared. If you do not report the incident directly after it occurred, it is recommended that the injured person immediately report the incident to the property manager or owner on their own as it does not look good for the first report to come from an attorney.
In addition, the sooner you report the accident, the more likely you will be able to get surveillance of the incident. Many business establishments have video surveillance that overwrites itself as often as every couple of weeks. When an incident is reported, business establishments usually have a policy that any video surveillance of the incident must be preserved. The video would then not only show the fall itself, but also how the conditions occurred making it easier to determine liability of the business establishment for the injury.
Therefore, the longer you wait, the more likely the surveillance video can be overwritten and the more difficult your liability case becomes as it can become your word against the companies.
Gathering Witness Information
Gathering witness information is important for your case as eyewitnesses to the incident are important to determining liability for the dangerous condition that caused the injury. Some of the eyewitnesses may even have stopped or provided help following the incident. Having the names of these witnesses, and even the names of employees who provided assistance or witnessed the accident, is helpful when recreating the events of the incident. Obtaining this information directly following the incident can save a lot of money on hiring a private investigator to try and find the information for you.
The witnesses are the people that your attorney will want to contact to get statements from in order to not only establish liability but also hopefully avoid costly litigation.
Documenting the Scene and Dangerous Conditions
Documenting the scene and the dangerous condition promptly is important because things change over time. The business may repair or alter the dangerous conditions and then deny that it was ever dangerous. For this reason, it is important to get photo or video documentation of the scene and condition at the time of the injury as promptly as possible.
It is important to get some form of documentation of the scene as it can help your attorney find any building code violations that the business establishment could be violating. Finding these violations would make determining liability a slam dunk!
Overall, the more evidence that can be obtained before a lawsuit, the more likely we can obtain a satisfactory settlement before a lawsuit.
Obtaining Prompt Medical Attention
Obtaining prompt medical attention is very important to the value of the case as a delay in treatment is a red flag to most insurance companies. This is especially true for premise liability cases as the insurance company will suspect that the injury did not occur at the business establishment if treatment is delayed.
If you are involved in a slip or trip and fall case and are not obtaining medical treatment due to not having adequate health insurance, contact Kohn Law Office as we are able to provide our clients with medical treatment where the medical providers wait to be paid until the case is resolved.
Contacting a Personal Injury Attorney
Contacting an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible is extremely important. Almost all personal injury attorneys provide a free consultation meaning that you can get important advice promptly without having to pay an attorney. At Kohn Law Office, we provide a free consultation on every premise liability case, even if we decide to not take on the case. Since these cases sometimes involve difficult liability questions including whether the injured person bears some fault for encountering the dangerous condition in the first place, we usually do not take premise liability cases where the injuries are mild sprains and strains that will recover within a few weeks or so. in those cases, it is often better for the injured party to try and resolve the case on their own, and we can help them do that. We often recommend that small injury cases pursue their own claim in small claims court as a party can still claim up to $10,000 in damages.
However, if your slip and fall injury results in severe injuries like fractures or ligament tears and requires substantial medical treatment or even surgery, you should consult an attorney as these are high-value damages cases that should not be pursued on your own. Personal injury attorneys in these cases will often cover litigation costs and not charge an attorney fee if they do not secure a recovery for the injured party.
If you or someone you know has recently been involved in a slip or trip and fall case, contact Kohn Law Office for a free consultation at 760-721-8182.