A slip-and-fall case is actually an “umbrella” of cases involving people hurt on someone else’s property…usually the property of a store or some other business open to the public. If you’re injured on another person’s property, your injury must be caused by the presence of a hazard. Hazards can take many forms. A “garden variety” hazard is a wet spot on a department store floor, but any tripping hazard fits the bill.
In slip and fall cases, it is not enough for an injured person to speculate on the nature of the hazard. There must be evidence of an actual hazard. Evidence of an actual hazard can be something as simple as a witness stating “yes, there was a puddle” for example. It could be visually identifying the fact that a toy was sticking out past the bottom shelf. Or, if the injured person does not actually see a puddle (for example) the burden would be satisfied should he state that his clothes were wet following a fall and there was an empty soda cup nearby. While circumstantial, in the absence of contradictory evidence, it would satisfy the injured parties’ burden.
The owner of the premises must have knowledge or constructive knowledge of the hazard in order to be liable though. Constructive knowledge arises when a foreign substance has been present long enough to be discovered with ordinary diligence and there is an employee in the area who could have noticed it. Another form of negligence arises should the owner fail to have a reasonable inspection procedure in place to even address the issue.
If you're hurt in this manner, it's important to take note of your surroundings. Identify what could have caused your fall or injury. Think back to the last time you saw a store associate in that general area or even in that aisle. If you're able, give a statement to the store manager and, finally, get the medical treatment you need. Then call a competent attorney to assist with your case.
For additional questions, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 770-729-4809.
- Jason Carnell