Our Experienced Trip and Fall Accident Lawyers Explain Some Of The Basic Things You Need to Know If You Were Injured In A Trip and Fall Accident
Tripping on an uneven walking surface is quite common. Defects can occur on all types of surfaces, including sidewalks, stairs or carpeting. An owner’s obligation to keep a surface free from defects is well established in the law. In fact, the law requires that property owners keep their property in “reasonably safe condition” at all times. When property is not reasonably safe, an owner may be responsible for injuries that result from a trip and fall accident.
How Do You Prove (and win) a Trip and Fall Accident Case ?
No matter what causes the trip and fall, the legal framework is the same. The law requires property owners to take “reasonable” measures to prevent tripping hazards from being present on their property. There are many different types of tripping hazards that can exist on property. Here are just a few examples:
- Broken, cracked or raised sidewalk;
- A sidewalk with a hole;
- Broken or cracked step;
- Lifted flooring.
Under the law, a property owner must inspect the premises regularly for unsafe conditions, and take immediate action to remove hazards once spotted. A property owner can be held legally responsible, if there is a failure to take adequate measures to keep the property reasonably safe.
Liability for a trip and fall accident often depends on whether the property owner knew about the hazard before the accident. This is known as the “notice” requirement. The theory here is that an owner can’t fix a problem, if they don’t know about it. As a result, saying “I had no idea that the step was broken”, can be a viable defense under certain circumstances.
However, in most cases, it is not necessary for an owner to actually know about the defect before the accident to be held responsible. Instead, the law allows jurors to ask whether the owner “should have known” about the defect before the accident. If the answer is yes, then the notice requirement may be satisfied. It is important to have witnesses who can establish the length of time that a defect was present in trip and fall cases because the longer a defect was present, the more likely it is the owner should have known about it.
The “notice” requirement in some cases is far more complicated because the injured party may need to prove “actual written notice” of the defect in order to file a claim. This requirement is necessary for claims against the City of New York, and some other municipalities.
Can The Injured Party Also Be Responsible In a Trip and Fall Case?
If you were injured in a trip and fall accident, the property owner’s attorney will question you about your accident. The defense lawyer will be looking for evidence that you were comparatively negligent. You will be asked questions about your familiarity with the area, any possible warnings of the hazard, and whether you were distracted at the time of your fall. This evidence will be used to try and reduce any award in your favor under the rules of comparative negligence. If you are found to be partially at fault, your award will be reduced by the percentage of your fault.
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If you were injured in a trip and fall accident, contact our experienced trip and fall accident lawyers by email or calling (800) 762-9300 for a free consultation. You can also simply fill out one of our case intake forms and we will have one of our attorneys get right back to you.
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