The Trip and Fall Conundrum

Ever been in a situation where you slipped, then tripped and then fell hard, sustaining an injury? You may be eligible to file a personal injury lawsuit based on a premises liability theory.

Everyone does fall now and then, sometimes through no fault of their own, but due to a wet patch on a floor, ice on a sidewalk or something lying where it should not be in the first place. Those kinds of falls, as opposed to the ones where we trip over our own feet, may be able to go to court to recover for injuries sustained during that fall.

The most important thing to remember is not to assume that just because you did fall and hurt yourself, that you are automatically entitled to file a personal injury claim. The circumstances dictate the case here and for this reason, it’s a smart thing to speak to a personal injury lawyer first before assuming anything.

Slip, trip and fall cases are under an umbrella called premises liability and many people think that just because they are injured on someone else’s property, that the property owner’s insurance company automatically pays out for their medical bills, etc. While this “may” be the case, the incident will only be paid for by the owner under extremely strict guidelines. Put another way, a slip, trip and fall case must first of all have a dangerous condition, there must be some notice given, injuries sustained as a direct result of the dangerous condition, and then a verdict.

In some states the verdict may be rendered using comparative negligence as a yardstick. This means that if the person who fell is also negligent in the case, their total award is minus their assessed percentage of fault.

So what it all boils down to is this; if there was no dangerous condition to cause a fall, you don’t have a case. You must first prove there was a dangerous condition before you can proceed to the notice portion of this kind of case. In the notice portion of a slip, trip and fall lawsuit, you have to prove you did slip and fall because of a dangerous condition and that the property owner knew or should have known about that condition. Notice in this instance can be actual or constructive notice.

In the case of actual notice, this translates to mean that the owner either generated the condition or there is proof the owner knew about it because it was there for a long time and wasn’t fixed. Constructive notice means notice proved by evidence that shows the owner should have known about the condition if he’d been doing his job correctly. While these two categories may sound simple, they often are not and it’s something that should be discussed with a skilled personal injury lawyer who will outline precisely what is required to get justice in a slip, trip and fall case.

Beverly Aylmer writes for Lee, Gober & Reyna. If you need an Austin personal injury lawyer, contact an Austin personal injury attorney from Lee, Gober & Reyna. Visit RWLeelaw.com.