Many people are confused about what exactly is required to bring a successful slip and fall claim in Illinois. While there are many exceptions to the rules outlined below, the following discussion outlines the basic requirements for bringing a successful claim. There are two major requirements to a successful slip and fall claim:
1. There was a hazardous condition on the property that caused you to fall;
2. That the owner of the property knew or should have known of the hazardous condition;
First, there must be a hazardous condition on the property that causes your fall. A hazardous condition is one that normally wouldn’t be present if the property was adequately maintained. For example, water leaking from a cooler or spilled laundry detergent in a grocery store would constitute hazardous conditions. Similarly, a substantially uneven or crumbling sidewalk in front of a fast food restaurant might be considered a hazardous condition. On the other hand, if you fall because of a normal curb, stair, or if you simply trip over your feet, then you generally do not have a compensable claim. A defendant is not liable for one’s injuries just because she fell on his property.
Second, the owner or manager of the property must have known or should have known about the hazardous condition. In determining whether this requirement can be met, attorneys look to how the hazardous condition got there and how long it was there. For example, if a clerk stocking shelves drops a bottle of wine that spills on the floor, and a customer later falls because of that spill, this requirement has been met as the Defendant’s employee knew about the spill. It is often very difficult to prove that the property owner or its employee’s knew of the hazardous condition. Therefore, most cases require a showing that Defendant should have known of the dangerous condition.
Time is one of the major factors in proving that a property owner should have known of the hazardous condition. For example, if a customer of a grocery store spills flour and a customer falls on it moments later, there is no case because the property owner had no knowledge of the spill and did not have reasonable time to become aware of the hazardous condition. However, if a customer spills flower on the floor and a customer falls on it 20 minutes later, the property owner and his employees had substantial amounts of time to recognize that there was a hazardous condition and place warning signs or clean the area.
While there are many exception and caveats to the rules discussed above, these are the two major requirements that determine whether you have a compensable slip and fall claim.
What Proof Do I Need to Win My Slip and Fall Case?
To win a slip and fall legal case, you likely need to have some evidence that proves that the property owner’s negligence caused your fall. Since you won’t know in advance that you’ll fall, it can be difficult to document the conditions of the property before you fell. Fortunately, there are other ways to secure evidence to support your slip and fall case.
Taking photos at the accident scene with your mobile device can create evidence of the conditions of the property at the time that you fell. If you don’t have access to photographs, you can still build a case. You can collect contact information for any person that witnessed your fall. Your slip and fall lawyer can try to get surveillance footage of your accident from any business surveillance camera that possibly captured it.
In the absence of these kinds of evidence, it is still possible to build a slip and fall case. Your lawyer may ask for expert testimony from subject matter experts or require a more thorough investigation to be conducted. In cases where there is little evidence to go on, these strategies could potentially help to create a stronger case.
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The person found to be liable for your fall can be held responsible for medical expenses, suffering, and lost wages. Determining who is liable isn’t always a straightforward process. If a business took reasonable care of its structures and maintenance, but another customer spilled a beverage onto the floor, the business could be found not liable for causing the slip and fall accident if the spill wasn’t left for an extended period of time. Your lawyer can discuss liability with you to determine the best approach to take with regard to addressing who is at fault.
Steps to Take After a Slip and Fall Accident
Immediately after a slip and fall accident, it is important to do what you can to take care of your urgent medical needs and to document what happened. In most cases, this means calling 911 and notifying staff of the commercial property where you fell to create an incident report, if applicable. Most companies, attractions, and other programs in place to create formal documentation for injuries.
Next, you’ll want to take photographs of the scene of the fall and any injuries while medical treatment is en route. If there are any witnesses to your slip and fall accident, you should try to get their contact information, if possible. If you discover that your injuries are significant or long-term, you’ll be happy that you already collected all of the evidence that you need to pursue a legal case. You can call a slip and fall lawyer to discuss your case as soon as you’ve addressed your medical needs.
If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of a fall, contact The Kryder Law Group for your free consultation.