This is the next post in our series on the handling of slip and fall cases in Fort Worth, Texas. Our last article discussed steps one should immediately take after being injured in a fall. It is important to understand that if you do not immediately seek medical care then you may reduce your chances of receiving compensation. In this article we will discuss another important topic – the process of actually proving liability on the part of the property operator. This is a complicated area of law and it is strongly suggested that you retain an experienced personal injury attorney to assist you.
We have previously discussed whether a property owner is liable for a fall victim’s injuries. As we mentioned in that article, the property owner will only be liable if it is shown that they did not take reasonable steps to ensure that the premises would be safe. The first step in determining whether a hazardous condition existed is to send an investigator to the scene and to interview any potential witnesses. Such witnesses can state whether they observed a wet floor or some other dangerous condition. It may also be possible to interview those who were charged with keeping the property safe and then determining whether those people thought there was a risk. When selecting a lawyer to handle your slip and fall case make sure you hire someone who will actually visit the scene.
The next step in proving a property liability is to ensure that necessary evidence is preserved. This evidence may include maintenance records, surveillance footage, and other such information. Counsel will be able to use the discovery process to obtain these records. Say, for example, that you fell in a store which had a wet floor. Now say that the store has a policy of having someone check for spills every hour and recording that they have done so. If you obtain logs which show that the inspections had not been conducted then the store’s failure to follow its own policies would likely constitute a failure to keep the property safe. This, in turn, would typically prove that the owner or operator was negligent.
An additional component to proving premises liability involves the use of expert witnesses. Again, a property operator must take “reasonable” steps to ensure that the area is safe. The reasonableness of an operator’s actions will be judged against what owners of a similar type of premises would have done. If, for example, an expert testifies that retail store aisles are checked for spills every hour and the defendant in your case only checked his or her aisles every two hours then there would be a strong argument that they were not going far enough in their effort to keep the property safe. Each case will always be situation specific.
If you have been injured in a slip and fall then you may have suffered serious injuries. These can include spinal damage, brain damage, or paralysis. It is important that you retain a firm with experience in serious harm cases and which has taken such matters to trial. Also, you should hire a firm which employs an on-staff investigator and has the resources necessary to deal with large defendants. This is true whether you were injured in counties including Tarrant, Dallas, Johnson, and Wise as well as cities including Fort Worth, Hurst, Euless, Bedford, Haltom City, Richland Hills, North Richland Hills, Watauga, Grapevine, Colleyville, Southlake, Arlington, Keller, Grand Prairie, and Dallas. Contact a lawyer immediately after such an accident.