People trip and fall on daily basis. In fact, slip and fall accidents are the second most common cause of injury in America. And while most of these injuries are minor (save for the harm done to the person's ego), a handful of accidents are in fact major and require hospitalization, costly medical treatment, and/or long-term care.
Slip and fall lawsuits are also one of the most common personal injury claims, but they can often be difficult to resolve. In these cases, the burden of proof rests heavily on the plaintiff, and successfully navigating the legal waters is especially challenging.
If you are looking to file a slip and fall injury claim, here are 5 crucial steps from the experts about how to win your case and receive compensation.
Step #1: Hire an expert attorney in Colorado who specializes in slip and fall accidents
Have you been seriously injured in a slip and fall accident, and now wish to take legal action against the responsible individual or business? If so, your next step should be to seek out legal representation. Most slip and fall attorneys provide a free initial consultation...
Determining fault in slip and fall cases is rarely clear cut, as defendants often claim that the plaintiff's own carelessness led to their injury. An experienced slip and fall attorney will be able to gather the appropriate evidence to prove your claim and negotiate a settlement.
Step #2: Provide documentation of accident and injury
One of the first obstacles to overcome is providing proof of an actual injury, and documentation is best way to do so. Documentation can be visual (such as photographs), or in the form of doctors' notes.
Immediately following the mishap, it is crucial that you take pictures of the accident area right away. If you are unable to do so yourself, then ask a witness or passerby to take photos with their phone and send them to you.
Of course, following a slip and fall accident you should seek medical attention as soon as possible. Be sure to keep all the documentation and paperwork you receive from your doctors, as it may be used as evidence in the event of a lawsuit.
Step #3: Establish proof that the accident directly led to your injuries
Once you have established proof of an injury through documentation, it is also imperative to link the injury or injuries to the accident. Failure to establish this link will likely result in a dismissal of your case, since the defendant can simply argue that the injury you sustained is from a pre-existing condition.
Having proof through the above mentioned documentation, as well as testimonial from expert witnesses, can be crucial to establishing proof.
Step #4: Prove that the defendant had a legal responsibility for safety which they failed to uphold
A property owner cannot always be held responsible for every accident that occurs on their premises. Many causes of slip and falls are considered normal and necessary dangers of public life —i.e. drainage gates, steps, area rugs, etc. Moreover, a property owner or occupier cannot be held liable for immediately picking up or cleaning up every slippery spot on the floor.
With that said, property owners do have a legal responsibility to maintain a safe environment for visitors and customers, and failure to do so can be cause for a lawsuit. For a property owner to be considered legally responsible for a slip and fall injury, at least one of the following three statements must be true:
Liability in slip and fall cases is often decided by common sense – was the property owner negligent, or was the accident simply caused by unforeseen circumstances or the plaintiff's carelessness?
Step #5: Use expert witnesses, building plans, and other evidence to strengthen your claim
When it comes down to "he said, she said" in court, judges and juries ultimately decide a verdict by looking at the evidence presented by both sides. Not only does strong evidence increase the likelihood of a successful lawsuit, but it can also help both parties reach a settlement out of court.
Expert witnesses can use their expertise in physics, medical care, and other areas that apply to a case to help prove that an accident could reasonably lead to a serious injury such as yours. For instance, if a slip and fall accident occurred on a wet surface, an accredited "Tribologist" can be brought in to determine whether or not the floor has an acceptable level of traction...
At The Babcock Law Firm, we will use our experience to fight for a successful outcome in your Colorado slip and fall case. Give us a call or e-mail today!