It’s a fact that most civil lawsuits that are filed within the U.S. never make it to trial. Most civil lawsuits are settled outside of court because trials can be very unpredictable risky. A lawsuit involving a slip and fall claim is not exempt from this statistic. The amount of money that a claim is settled for depends on a wide range of factors. Fortunately, you can take some simple steps to significantly strengthen your case and improve your overall position to negotiate a fair settlement. All that is needed is to follow the steps discussed below.
The ‘Casual Link’ and How to Prove It
Most people don’t have a terribly difficult time proving they were injured in an accident, but it is important to understand the importance of proving fault. The medical records should document the injuries and reveal their severity. For most people, the difficult part is proving that the fall was what actually caused the injuries.Healthcare providers are usually responsible for determining if the fall was responsible for the injuries you suffered. Put simply, the burden of proving the link between your fall and sustained injuries rests on the shoulders of the healthcare provider.
It’s not uncommon for lawyers to attempt to make the connection. The problem is that the results can be hit or miss. Most physicians aren’t too interested to take time out of their day to provide you with a disposition. It’s almost always better to approach your physician about the topic during a scheduled visit. You’ll need to explain to your physician that you have a pending claim, and a letter from the physician would be highly useful in getting to a resolution.
The letter would need to explain that your injuries were the direct results of the fall. Most physicians will prefer to handle the issue in this manner, as opposed to a request to the physician for a deposition. There is a chance that the defense lawyer will depose your physician, so he or she can question the letter’s contents, which can actually work in your favor. If the defense lawyer sends the deposition, it can cause the physician to view the defense lawyer as the bad guy.
Proving Defendant Was Provided ‘Notice’ Of the Hazardous Condition
In most cases, it’s not incredibly difficult to prove that a dangerous condition existed on a property. The truth is that the condition was either present, or it was not present. A sworn testimony, incident reports or pictures can help to prove if the dangerous condition was present. The difficult part is proving that the property owner was aware or had notice of the condition.
If you want to better the chances for success for your claim, you’ll need to prove that the property owner had notice or constructive notice of the hazardous property condition. Constructive notice just means the condition existed long enough that it’s almost impossible that the property owner couldn’t have known about it.
It’s possible for a sworn witness to testify and prove that the property owner had notice of the hazardous condition. The witness must know how long the condition existed and make their statement while testifying. You do have the option to try to establish notice using your own testimony, but as you could imagine, your own testimony could be viewed as self-serving and won’t be given as much credit.
Video from Surveillance Cameras
Today, most business owners have some form of video surveillance for their property. The video can show the length of time that a hazardous condition was present. If your slip and fall took place on another person’s property, and you believe strongly that the incident was captured on video, you should request the video right away. Many modern surveillance cameras are recorded using a loop feature, which means they’ll eventually overwrite the video containing your incident. You don’t want to lose important video evidence just because you didn’t request quickly enough. Depending on the camera system, the loop might be set for seven days to one month.
It’s quite common for businesses to create incident reports when someone slips and falls on their property. An incident report will probably describe the incident that occurred and how it happened. It might also include contact details for anyone who witnessed the event. Read our informational article, Slip and Fall Accidents in Stores and Businesses.
Incident reports can help to shed light on how long a hazardous condition was present. An example of a useful incident report would be one that describes a customer slipping and falling on a puddle of juice that wasn’t cleaned up immediately after the supervisor told employee X, Y and Z to clean it up. The report would be useful because it shows how long the hazardous condition was present, and it even shows that the customer slipping and falling was a direct result of employees failing to clean up the spill.
You should already have documentation of your injuries from your medical records, but you should also keep a journal and use it to record experiences that are caused by your injuries. An example would be if you tried to replace a part on your car and couldn’t properly grip your tools, so you ended up having to pay a mechanic. This would be important information related to your injuries that you would want to include in your journal.
It’s also a good idea to document expenses that are related to your injuries. If you don’t keep documents of your expenses, then it’s not very likely that you’ll receive any compensation for them. You shouldn’t exaggerate your injuries or try to ask for significantly more compensation than you’re entitled to. If you choose to do this, it can end up working against you and decrease your chance for getting any compensation. The whole point of filing a claim is to get a fair amount of compensation that you deserve.
Hiring Competent Legal Counsel
This last tip involves hiring the right legal counsel. There are different types of lawyers for different types of cases. There are unique and unexpected variables accompanying every case, so it’s important to have a lawyer who can competently handle these challenges as they arise. Fortunately, competency is one of the characteristics of our firm, and we can help you. If you are seeking legal assistance, call The Brown Firm PLLC directly or send our attorneys a message online.
Free Consultations Are Available
Pursuing a lawsuit can be a difficult decision. The Brown Firm PLLC ensures our clients are well informed by offering free initial consultations by phone or at our office location. Contact us to schedule your free consultation today.