Slip and fall, or “trip and fall” cases occur when someone else (usually a home owner, retail store or other business entity) fails to make their premises reasonably safe and a customer or visitor either slips or trips on something resulting in an injury.
Note that the mere fact that you have fallen at a store and sustained injuries is not enough to be successful. It is always essential to prove that the store, homeowner, or other responsible party was negligent somehow in their maintenance, construction or care of the facility or home. In other words, you need to prove that they were legally “at fault.”
This can be accomplished by showing that the owner (or some employee or agent) created the dangerous condition by spilling some liquid or dropping some materials thus creating a hazard by some conduct of their own. Or you may be able to show that the owner knew of a dangerous condition, but did nothing to correct it. (For example, there had been previous complaints of customers falling on the tile outside when it rained). Or, more commonly, you may show that the owner should have known of the dangerous condition had they been reasonable in their care and maintenance of the premises.
Many larger retailers have built safeguards into their policies and procedures. They will require their employees to be training frequently on dealing with spills. They will have a policy in place that requires periodic “clean sweeps” of certain high-spill areas to make sure it is clean from spills or debris. They will have a procedure in place for preserving evidence such as video surveillance, a mechanism for identifying the substance that was spilled and where it came from, and photographs. Often, your slip and fall, or trip and fall claim, will hinge on whether those policy and procedures were properly followed and whether the retailer or homeowner did enough to preserve relevant evidence.
Just as the owner is to act as a reasonable owner would, you should anticipate that the insurance company or defense team will seek to show that you did not act as a reasonable customer should have. Perhaps they will argue that you were distracted on your cell phone at the time of the incident, that the spill or debris causing the fall was “open and obvious” and any reasonable customer should have seen it and thus avoided it, or perhaps that you are generally a prescription eye glass wearer and on this occasion you chose not to wear them. By so doing, they will seek to show that you were either wholly or partially at fault for the injuries you sustained.
Slip and fall injuries are very fact-sensitive. There is generally no police report generated shortly after the incident. Proving how and why a fall occurred can often be very difficult. If the severity of your injuries will allow it, it is very helpful to identify names and contact information of witnesses that may have been present at the time of the incident. It is also very important to take photographs of the scene and to record everything you believe to be relevant for use at a future time.
Contact us anytime for a free evaluation of your situation. We represent clients in the Phoenix area, with our main office in downtown Mesa, Arizona. The only cases we take are those we are confident we can win and you pay no fee unless we do. Schedule a free consultation with our Mesa slip and fall attorney today.