Injuries resulting from trips, slips, and falls are very common and thousands of claims are filed each and every year. Victims suffer a range of injuries, from bruises and contusions to sprains and strains to lacerations and open wounds to bone and joint fractures to paralysis and wrongful death.
Causes of injuries include, but are not limited to, cracked and uneven sidewalks and walkways, debris, foreign or liquid substances, wet or slippery walkways, unsafe construction sites, unlit stairwells, missing stair-rails, uneven, torn carpeting, jagged tiling or buckling flooring. In any case, you have the right to know what makes an environment unsafe or trap-like and who is legally held liable in various circumstances.
Our accomplished personal injury attorneys at Michael Manoussos & Co PLLC will fight for your rights, explain the law, and the many other factors there are to consider in such accidents. Some factors that we take into consideration include previous complaints regarding an existing hazard or defect and determining negligence of a business or property owner. It is important that a thorough legal investigation be conducted to document the dangerous or defect condition which caused the fall and to ascertain the responsible person or entity, which is usually the owner of record and or the lease or management company. At times an expert (such as an engineer, architect, building inspector) is required to demonstrate the unsafe condition.
What is Reasonable?
What makes property conditions safe or not safe? “Reasonable care” is demonstrated if and when the property owner made concise and careful efforts to keep the property safe. Did the property owner notice or should have known about the danger or defect in question. Did the property owner exercise his or her own common sense? Did the property owner regularly check and maintain the premises to ensure the property is safe at all times?
If the property owner did not demonstrate “reasonable care,” however, they may be responsible for your injuries. Here is a list of some preliminary questions to ask yourself in the unfortunate event of a trip, slip, or fall accident:
Did the property owner demonstrate negligence or carelessness on their behalf or fail to abide by standard regulations or laws?
Did you trip on uneven or defective flooring? If so, was the unsafe condition there long enough that the owner should have known about and fixed it?
Did you slip and/or fall on a wet or slippery surface? If so, was the unsafe condition there long enough that the owner should have known about and fixed it?
Did you trip over an object that was left on the ground? If so, was the object intentionally placed there or did someone leave it there? If it was intentional, was it for a good reason? If it was for a good reason, is there a possibility the object could have been removed or replaced if unsafe? Could the object have been relocated to a safe place?
Could a perimeter, barrier or caution sign been placed around the object or location of injury in order to warn people of potential dangers?
Did poor or no lighting contribute to the accident?
Is there a history of accidents at this location?
Does the property owner keep a regular maintenance and/or cleaning schedule of the premises? If so, what proof does the property owner have?
If you answered one or more of these questions in your favor, then you may be able to collect a compensation for the injuries you or a loved one suffered.
If and when it is possible, we recommend you do the following:
Take photos of:
The scene of the accident, and specifically the dangerous or defect condition
Any physical injuries suffered, including bruises, cuts, scratches, etc.
Stitches or casts, if permissible
Your clothing and shoes
Get the name and contact information of anyone who witnessed the accident
File an accident report and document your version of the accident. This will be helpful and important when representing you, or a loved one, and the injuries suffered.
Keep and safeguard any physical evidence that contributed to the accident, if possible.
Trip/slip and fall cases are very fact specific, as the New York Court of Appeals has enunciated in a recent trilogy of case decisions. The facts and circumstances of these types of personal injury cases must be meticulously examined and documented. Defects must be in quantifiable form measured and documented. The place and location of the defect is equally important in examining the imposition of liability.