Slip and fall pertains to the liability rules that govern cases in which a person falls to the ground and sustained harm due to a dangerous condition on another person’s property. And as one subset of personal injury law, the case is also controlled by the basic rules of negligence. Unless when it happened on a federal government property, the state law will be in control. Despite its reference to a “slip”, such area of law covers any form of accident resulting from the victim encountering an unsafe and dangerous condition underfoot, whether it produces a twist, overextension, stumble, or other movements. On the other hand, direct causes may include cracked sidewalks, spilled liquid or food, ice and snow, objects on the stairs, uneven steps, broken floor tiles, and potholes. Some indirect causes may also contribute, like missing handrails or dim lighting.

Identifying the Responsible Party

Slip and Fall

It is a must to immediately determine the identity of the responsible party. Or if there are some uncertainties regarding the exact name of the defendant/s, the majority of jurisdiction would allow a “John Doe”. When the responsible party has been identified, the court documents could be amended to substitute the exact name in place of John Doe. This would allow the plaintiff, who is in the process of researching the case to file a claim on time.

Proving the Defendant to be Liable

Unless it’s a rare case that involves an intentional conduct by the defendant, a California slip and fall case would require the plaintiff to prove negligence. This “negligence” means that the defendant committed a failure to act in a manner that’s reasonable enough under such given circumstances. For instance, it would be reasonable to expect that a store clerk would place warning signs in the newly mopped areas. When there’s a failure in doing so, and a customer slips on the wet floor and sustains pain, the store can be held liable for negligence.

Proving and Discovery

Whether or not someone acted negligently would actually depend on what they know. Such is especially true in the case of slip and fall accidents, as the knowledge of the defendant of the dangerous situation would often be determinative. The plaintiff is entitled to discover and find out what the defendant knew, this is done through the procedure of discovery. During the procedure, the defendant may be forced to turn over repair logs, maintenance records, surveillance video, etc.

Additionally, the victim in a slip and fall accident is also permitted to acquire a sworn testimony about what happened. The plaintiff need not wait until the trial to learn what the witnesses would say. This is acquired by conducting depositions or recorded interviews. Likewise, subpoenas can be issued to the defendant and the other parties to show up and to answer questions regarding the accident on the record. A deposition testimony is crucial in every negligence case. By being able to immediately secure such evidence, both the defendant and the plaintiff would have an understanding of the circumstances which led to the accident, as well as the degree of fault. Considering the severity of the injury, both sides can determine what they believe the slip and fall case is worth, and the settlement negotiations would ensue.

Cases which initially appear to be more favorable to the plaintiff are often derailed when the conduct of the plaintiff is analyzed. Defendants in a slip and fall case are certain to raise the issue of comparative fault. Also known as contributory negligence, the basic ideas is that, the victim was careless not to avoid the danger, and shares either some or all of the blame. In order to avoid this defense, a slip and fall victim need to consult an attorney prior to speaking with anyone about such incident.

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