Slip / Trip and Fall Claims – What you Need to Know

Frequently, trip and fall accident occurs when something suddenly and unexpectedly violates a person’s expectations.  They expect continuity in environments and, if not warned otherwise, expect the places they go to be in good repair.

slipping-iceWhen someone unexpectedly encounters a hazardous condition on the property such as a wet floor, raised slab of sidewalk, icy conditions or a pothole their expectations are violated which may cause them to trip or slip and fall.

What do you need to prove to win a trip and fall case?

In order to win your trip and fall case, you will need to prove that the property owners was negligence was the factual cause of your accident and the accident is causally related to your injuries.  Liability is broken down into four basic factors

Duty – What duty did the property owner have to you?  If you were a trespasser at the time of the incident a property owner’s duty to you is minimal.  A property owner’s duty to trespasser is to refrain from willful and wanton misconduct.  However if you were a business or public invitee, the property owner owes you the highest duty.  The owner must inspect the property and ensure it reasonably safe and in good repair.

Breach of duty – Next you must prove that the property owner breached the duty owed to you.  Negligence occurs when the owner breaches the duty owed or fails to use “reasonable or ordinary care.”

Causation – You cannot recover simply because the property owner was negligent.  In order to win your claim, you must prove the the owner’s negligence was the actual cause of your injuries.  Some common defense include that a claimant’s injuries were not caused by the accident but instead were pre-existing, or that the claimant was not hurt because of a dangerous condition of the property but instead due to their own carelessness.

Damages – If the first three elements are met, a plaintiff can recover the damages caused by the trip or slip and fall accident.    Philadelphia trip and fall accident victims may recover compensatory damages for losses such as pain and suffering, loss of quality of life and noneconomic damages (wage loss, future earnings, medical bills and future medical expenses).  Additionally, if the defendant’s actions were reckless or malicious, a claimant may recover punitive damages.

If you fall because of the hazardous condition of a premises, an experienced slip and fall lawyer in Philadelphia can help you prove these elements in Court.

What should you do after a trip and fall accident?

Seek Medical Attention.  If you fall and are injured, you should first seek medical attention if needed.  In the most severe and traumatic cases, an emergency room visit may be warranted.  In other cases, you should make an appointment with a physician as soon as possible.

Contact an Experienced Attorney.  After receiving necessary medical treatment, you should speak with an experienced injury attorney who can advise you of your rights.

Report the Accident.  At your earliest opportunity, you (or your attorney) should inform the property owner of the accident and the hazardous condition which caused you to fall.  In doing so, it is important not to admit fault.  Most commercial property owners will immediately begin risk management upon notification of an accident.  Store/property managers, employees and security guards are trained to minimize the property owner’s liability risk and to immediately begin making a case for the defense.  Upon notice of a slip / trip and fall accident, employees will usually fill out an incident report which often contain a “self serving” description of the incident.  Some common items contained in incident reports include:

  • a description of the accident
  • the victims behavior and actions after the accident
  • whether the accident victim claimed he/she was injured AND ANY ADMISSION THAT YOU HE/SHE IS OK
  • whether the victim requested emergency medical treatment
  • whether the victim was under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • the victims clothing attire and shoewear
  • whether there were warning signs in the area
  • a description of condition that caused the accident
  • how the condition was created and/or how long the condition existed, and
  • any witnesses to the accident

Choose your words carefully.  It is important to be very careful about what you say and do after an accident.  An off the cuff remark that “I’ll be OK” is likely to later be used against you as an admission that “claimant reported no injury after accident.”

Get Witness Contact Information.  You should also take the names, telephone numbers and addresses of any witnesses to the accident.  Witness that support your account of what happened may be conveniently omitted from an incident report.  Therefore, it is important that YOU preserve this crucial evidence.
Take photographs and video of the scene.   Photographs and video evidence is often the strongest evidence available.  In some cases, it can mean the difference between a victory and a loss.  Make sure to take a photo or video of the defective or dangerous condition that caused you to trip and fall.

For a free and friendly no obligation consultation, call Brent Wieand, an experienced Philadelphia personal injury lawyer that works on a contingency fee at (888) 789-3161. If you need a lawyer a slip and fall accident in New Jersey or Pennsylvania, Brent Wieand is here to help. He is proud to serve Southeastern Pennsylvania including Berks, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery counties, as well as the New Jersey areas of Pennsauken, Gloucester and Camden NJ.


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