If you are injured due to a slip (or trip) and fall on another person’s property, you may very well have a claim against the owner of that property. However, it is important to know that you do not automatically have a valid legal claim simply because you fell on a person’s property. In order to make a successful claim, you will have to prove that the property owner (or person in control of the property) was negligent.
In my 28 years of practicing law, I have handled many types of these cases, including injuries that occurred at sporting events, entertainment venues, shopping malls, offices, restaurants, retail stores, hotels, apartment complexes, and homes. There are a number of issues that must be evaluated when investigating these claims.
First, it is necessary to determine the client’s status on the property? In other words, was the client invited onto the property or was he or she an uninvited guest. Sometimes a potential client was actually trespassing at the time of the fall. There are different legal duties owed to a person depending on why they were on the property. For example, someone who is invited onto property is owed a higher duty of care than someone who has trespassed onto the same property. An experienced personal injury attorney, like a Tampa, FL personal injury lawyer, will be able to analyze the circumstances and answer this question for you.
Second, it must be determined whether the property owner was negligent by failing to keep the property in a reasonably safe condition. This analysis can involve many factors, such as how long the dangerous condition existed, whether the owner created the condition or allowed it to exist, and whether the owner took reasonable precautions to make sure the property was safe. For example, did the property owner have regularly scheduled maintenance protocols to inspect and clean the property to make sure it is safe for guests? Or were there appropriate warning signs to let guests know of dangerous or unsafe conditions?
Nowadays, it is common for stores and other public places to have video cameras. These devices often record slip and falls which occur on the property. It is important for your lawyer to immediately request all recordings and make sure the video is not destroyed before you have a chance to review it. This can be the most valuable evidence you have in proving the owner was negligent.
If you are able, you (or whoever is with you) should take photographs of the scene immediately after a fall in order to document the unsafe condition. Once the hazard is cleaned up, it may be difficult to later prove the owner was negligent if you have not taken photographs that accurately depict what the condition looked like when you fell.
Thanks to Jeff Murphy Law for their insight into slip and fall injury cases.