Slip-and-fall accidents are among the most common types of preventable accidents that happen each year. In 2014 alone, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that seven million older adults were injured in falls. People of any age can slip, trip, and fall, and many of the resulting injuries are serious. While some of these incidents are purely accidental, others are caused by the negligent actions of property owners. When people are injured in such accidents due to the negligence of others, it is important for them to understand the types of evidence in slip-and-fall cases that might help them to prove liability.
Relevant Evidence in Slip-and-Fall Cases
The available evidence in slip-and-fall cases depends on the type of fall that has occurred. Many slip-and-fall cases fall into one of the three following categories:
- Slips and falls on snow, ice, or another substance
- Slips and falls on floors or thresholds
- Falls on staircases
In accidents that involve slips and falls on snow, ice, or other foreign substances, taking photographs of the ice or snow as it existed when you fell is vital to the success of your case. If you do not take pictures, it can be difficult to prove your claim.
If you did not take photographs, the property owner or an insurer may have taken pictures. Your attorney may investigate whether or not pictures exist and try to obtain them. In addition to pictures, your attorney may also request maintenance records and policies. This may help you to determine how the property owner has dealt with snow or ice in the past.
Falls on stairs that do not involve slipping on debris or substances may hinge on the staircase’s design or defects. For example, if there is no handrail, only one handrail, or the handrails are at the wrong height, getting measurements may be important. In these types of cases, your lawyer may retain a construction expert who can take measurements and give an opinion of whether the stairs had design defects.
Slip-and-fall cases on floors or thresholds may rely on several different types of evidence, including photographs of the accident scene, repair and inspection records, on-site video, and whether or not the property owner issued a warning regarding the hazard.
It is important to take steps to preserve evidence in slip-and-fall cases. As time passes, important evidence can be lost. Immediately after an accident, you should take photographs of the location where the accident occurred and of the substance (if any) in which you slipped. If you fell on stairs, you should photograph them. If you are not able to take pictures, ask a friend to do so for you. You should also get the names and contact information of witnesses who saw your fall. Notify the property owner or the possessor of the property about your fall immediately, and write down the names and job titles of all of the people with whom you speak. You should seek prompt medical attention after your slip-and-fall case so that your injuries can be clearly linked to your accident and not blamed on an intervening event.
Why It Is Important to Gather Evidence Early
Evidence in slip-and-fall cases can quickly be lost. For example, if you slipped and fell in a spilled puddle of milk in a grocery aisle, the store is likely to clean it up soon after your fall. It may be difficult to locate people who witnessed your accident if you do not get their contact information. By gathering evidence early, you might make it easier to prove the elements of your slip-and-fall claim.
It is similarly important for you to get help from an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after your accident. Every state has a statute of limitations for injury accidents. If you fail to file your claim within the limitations period, you will not be able to recover damages for your losses. Hiring a lawyer early on in your case may also help because the attorney will be likelier to uncover all of the relevant evidence that might be needed to prove your case, strengthening your claim.
Contact an Experienced Slip-and-Fall Accident Lawyer
Slip-and-fall accidents can cause devastating injuries and result in substantial losses. If you have been injured in a fall while you were lawfully present on the premises of another person or entity, you may have legal rights. It is important for you to consult with a personal injury attorney so that you can learn more about your potential claim. Contact the Law Offices of Bryan Musgrave today. Our knowledgeable and experienced team can help you pursue the compensation you deserve. To get started, please give us a call at 417-322-2222 or contact us online to schedule your free initial consultation.