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How to Prove Liability In A Trip or Slip And Fall Case

By Steven Miller
Senior Partner

Premises liability is a type of personal injury law that obligates property owners to keep their properties reasonably safe and free of hazards. Trip or slip and fall lawsuits constitute a major segment of premises liability cases, and cover a range of negligent conduct on the part of property owners. Have you been injured in a trip or slip and fall case? If so, how do you establish the property owner’s liability? Count on the seasoned legal counsel of Miller, Montiel, & Strano, P.C.

The duty of reasonable care

In New York, all property owners – from residential home owners to commercial businesses – must keep their premises in a reasonably safe condition. To quote one recent case, “The landowner owes people on their property a duty of reasonable care under the circumstances to maintain the property in a safe condition.”

The phrase “under the circumstances” is key. Let’s say there is standing water on a set of stairs that causes someone to slip and fall. But let’s add that the standing water is there because the staircase is under water due to flooding caused by a hurricane. The owner would not be expected to somehow remove the water during the middle of the hurricane, especially if the rest of the property is underwater.

Every case of premises liability must therefore be considered in light of the specific circumstances involved. However, where the property owner failed to take reasonable steps to prevent slips and falls, the victim can hold that party liable.

Steps to proving liability

Seeking medical attention immediately after suffering a trip or slip and fall will be the single most important step you take. To begin with, your health matters more than anything else. Delaying or refusing to see a doctor could make a bad situation worse. Also, you could inadvertently hurt your chances of recovery. The more time between a trip or slip and fall and when you see a doctor, the easier it will be for the at-fault party’s attorney to either blame you or blame someone or something else for your injuries. So be sure to see your doctor or call 911 right away.

If you are able to, you need to take pictures and record video of the trip or slip and fall scene. That includes exactly where you fell and the immediate vicinity around it. Evidence in trip or slip and fall cases tends to disappear quickly. For instance, if ice caused your accident, it may soon melt. Or the property owner may go and clean up the scene as soon as you leave, destroying evidence in the process. The more pictures and videos, and the sooner they are made, the better.

Speak with any witnesses that saw what happened, and be sure to get their contact information for later. These individuals can provide valuable testimony in court about not only your accident but the conditions that caused it. Your attorney can reach out to these people later.

You should also write down any details about the accident that you can remember. Focus particularly on not just the trip or slip and fall itself, but everything leading up to it. Where were you going? What time was it? What was the address of the business or residence where you slipped? What were the exact conditions that made the premises unsafe? The more detail, the better.

Lastly, talk to a knowledgeable premises liability attorney. Our firm can help.

Miller, Montiel, & Strano, P.C. Is Here To Serve You

Your lawyer will also conduct an investigation to uncover relevant information that will help you establish the defendant’s liability. For example, the property owner may have previously been warned or cited for unsafe property conditions, a fact which will work strongly in your favor. Let Miller, Montiel, & Strano, P.C. represent you in demanding the maximum compensation for your injuries available under law. Call us today.

About the Author
Steven Miller, Esq. is the founding member and Senior Partner in Miller, Montiel & Strano, P.C. Mr. Miller’s extensive career as a trial attorney spans five decades. He tries cases for the catastrophically injured victims of construction site accidents, motor vehicle and premises accidents caused by the negligence of others. Mr. Miller is a detail oriented, tenacious attorney committed to achieving the maximum results for his clients; he has obtained numerous seven figure verdicts and settlements.