According to the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention one out of five falls causes a serious injury such as broken bones. Over 800,000 patients a year are hospitalized because of a fall injury, most often because of a head injury or hip fracture. These injuries are common across Pennsylvania, including Montgomery County Pennsylvania, and can have life altering effects. If you slip and fall while a guest on someone’s property or a customer at a business, there are many factors that come into play to determine whether you have a case.
Gather Your Evidence
An important factor can be whether there is video of the fall or a photo of whatever it was that caused you to fall. If you fall at a business, there may be video taken by cameras inside or outside the property. It is important to notify the business soon after your fall and request they save video of the fall in this scenario. Beyond the video of the actual fall, it will be important to get video prior to the fall if a slippery substance on the floor caused it to see how that slippery substance came to be on the floor. This is something your attorney can handle. Video of a fall on property of a private homeowner is less likely to exist.
Regarding photos these are something you, or someone with you when you fell, can take. Or a business will sometimes take photos of what caused your fall. These photos can be requested by your attorney or obtained through the discovery process during litigation of your case. Even if no photos or video exists of the substance or defect that caused your fall, you can still prove the existence of it through an incident report if an employee of a business did an investigation of the fall area, or through witness statements.
Know What Caused Your Slip And Fall
Another important factor in determining if you have a case is what the defect is. For example, if it is a slippery substance on the ground of a business left by a customer, that business will only be liable if you can show the business knew or should have known of the existence of this substance and did nothing to clean it up. Here video evidence, witness statements, or the condition of the substance (if it was a physical item such as a banana peel) can be important to show how long the substance was on the ground. Evidence that the business did a floor check of the area where you fell but did nothing to clean up the substance you slipped on can also be important.
If what caused your fall was a defect with the property, such as a crack in the ground or a raised floor, then you will need to prove either the business was aware or should have been aware of this defect and did nothing to fix it. Statements from current or former employees of the business, witnesses who are familiar with the business, or reports the business has about the defect and the need to fix it can show the business was aware of the defect.
If the defect is outside, such as on a sidewalk, a local municipality or private property owner could be at fault. As with the above cases you will need to show that the defect was either caused by the municipality or private property owner, or that they knew or should have known that the defect existed. Evidence from Google maps, and Google history can show that the defect existed a number of days, weeks, months, or years and should have been fixed long before your accident. Evidence that employees from the local municipality were at the fall area to do various jobs and never reported the defect can help show the municipality is liable for your fall injuries. If the claim is against a local governmental entity, you will also have to show that you have a permanent injury or disability from the fall. This is not a requirement when bringing a claim against a private property owner.
Natural Vs. Negligence?
If your fall was caused by snow and ice that formed from a natural snow fall, the hills and ridges doctrine may apply to your case. Here you will have to show that the snow or ice that caused your fall had accumulated to ridges and elevations making the property dangerous to walk on; that the defendant was aware, or should have been aware, of this snow and ice; that the hills and ridges were not addressed for an unreasonable amount of time; and that the hills and ridges were the cause of your fall.
If the icy area was not formed by a natural snow fall then the hills and ridges doctrine may not apply to your case. For example, if a store employee spilled liquid by the store’s entrance on a very cold day and ice formed, the hills and ridges doctrine will not apply. Or if ice is forming by a store’s entrance due to a defect with the roof or gutters, allowing snow and ice to drip of the roof and refreeze on the ground, then the hills and ridges doctrine will not apply.
If the substance that caused your fall was created by an employee of the business, then there is no need to prove notice. Here the business is already on notice of the defect because their own employee caused it. Issues in these cases are if whatever caused your fall is serious enough to be considered a defect, and if the business did an adequate job of cleaning the substance, or fixing the defect, or putting up warning signs to warn of the defect if it cannot be immediately cleaned or fixed. In some instance a third-party contractor, who was retained by the business to fix a defect or clean up a substance, could be at fault. This will all depend on the facts of your case.
Prove Your Injuries
You will also have to prove your injuries through medical evidence. This includes your medical records, reports from your treating doctors about your injuries, and testimony from yourself, friends, and family about how your injuries affect you. If you have lost wages those can be proven through medical evidence that you are not able to work, and your tax returns and pay stubs showing what your normal wages are. Your attorney may also retain an economic expert to project what any of your future lost wages are.
Get Help With Your Case
The Thistle Law Firm is experienced at handling slip and fall claims in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. If you or a loved one suffered serious injuries from a slip and fall accident in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, the attorneys at the Thistle Law Firm are here to take your call and answer your questions at 215-568-6800. Get help with your case today and get the compensation you deserve.