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Fall Down Accidents (Slip and Falls)


Automobile accidents (see Chapter 1 from my book, Winning Personal Injury Claims) and fall-down cases are the most common types of lawsuit for personal injuries. The legal principles involved with these types of cases differ greatly. Following are the hurdles that must be overcome in order to receive fair compensation for injuries suffered as the result of a fall.

Generally, the most difficult problem involves the question of notice. The injured victim must prove that the defendant either created the hazard that caused the injury or that the defendant knew or should have known of the hazard long enough before the accident to have removed or repaired it.

For example, when a pedestrian trips on a crack in a sidewalk, the personal injury attorney hopes to find someone who lives in the area who knows that the crack existed for a long time. Or, photos may show that the crack was not of recent origin. It is then easy to show that the property owner should have known of it and should have had the crack repaired.

The city where the accident happened may also have liability for failure to enforce the municipal requirements that sidewalks be kept in good repair. This is particularly important when the property owner carries no insurance on the property. In this situation, the government may be the only defendant against whom a money judgment can be collected. The city becomes the deep pocket or target defendant.

A thorough and prompt investigation can make all the difference in the outcome of fall-down cases. Witness statements must be obtained and photographs of the hazard must be taken. Even short delays can hurt the case, since memories fade rapidly and hazards get repaired quickly when injuries occur.

The discussion that follows sets forth the different classifications that some states use to describe fall-down accident plaintiffs. Although these exact classifications may not apply in your state, this discussion should at least enlighten you to some degree as to this subject matter. Be sure to consult the law in your own state.

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