Key Evidence in Trip and Fall Cases
Key evidence is necessary for a plaintiff to prove that their trip and fall incident was the result of a property owner’s negligence. If you have been injured in a trip and fall accident, you should contact an experienced trial lawyer as soon as possible. Your lawyer will immediately begin gathering evidence from a variety of sources in order to ensure your claim is evaluated and filed in a timely manner.
The evidence itself will relate to what happened, why it happened, and who may potentially be at fault. Basic details like the date, time, and location help investigate and uncover other relevant facts, such as what the weather was like in the days before and at the time of the incident. Time is of the essence in trip and fall cases. Memories become muddy, photographic evidence gets lost, and key pieces of evidence get compromised the longer someone waits before beginning a thorough investigation.
Without evidence, it is impossible for a plaintiff to prove that they have a valid claim. You will want to preserve and provide your lawyer with any evidence and information in your possession or control. Your lawyer will then work hard to obtain the rest of the evidence that they will need to file a successful lawsuit on your behalf. Accumulating as much evidence as possible maximizes the potential compensation you can receive. In this blog, we will discuss some of the most common and important evidence presented in trip and fall cases.
Information and Evidence You Can Provide
The first person your lawyer will gather evidence and information from is you. They will want to conduct a comprehensive interview with you as soon as possible and collect details like:
- At what address did the trip and fall incident occur?
- What structures, businesses, and potential owners are occupying those premises?
- What was the exact location within the premises where your fall occurred?
- What was the date and time of the incident?
- Were you taking any medications at the time of the incident?
- Had you consumed alcohol before the time of the incident?
- Were you familiar with the location where your fall occurred?
- What were you doing at the time of the trip and fall?
- Were you alert and paying attention at the time of the trip and fall?
- What type of shoes were you wearing at the time of the incident?
- Do you have prescribed eyewear, and were you wearing them at the time of the incident?
- For what visual impairment were you prescribed your eyewear to correct?
- Is the prescription for your eyewear current?
- Have you suffered from dizziness or vertigo in the past?
- Have you had other trip and fall accidents in the past?
- Do you remember seeing any wetness, oil, or grease on the surface of the floor?
- Were there any signs indicating that the surface of the floor was slippery or otherwise dangerous?
- Were there witnesses who saw the incident?
- Did you take any photographs after the incident?
- Did you seek emergency medical treatment after the incident?
- What injuries did you sustain, and what medical treatment have you received?
- Did any first responders attend the scene of the accident?
The answers to these questions will help your lawyer create a timeline for the incident and decide which records to request and which witnesses to be interviewed. It is important to provide your lawyer with all of the information you can remember, even if you think it may be unnecessary.
If you experience a trip and fall incident, you should, if possible, try to get the names and contact information of any witnesses who saw your fall. This may include friends or family, employees or managers of a business, and/or other third parties. Your lawyer will contact these witnesses and obtain a written statement from them as soon as possible. The information they provide will help to corroborate the information you provide and may provide additional information that you may not have been aware of previously. These witness statements will be integral to your legal claim.
Your lawyer will conduct a land title search on the address of the trip and fall location in order to properly identify the owner(s) and occupier(s) of the premises. If your trip and fall incident occurred at a retail location, your lawyer will want to know if you notified the manager or other employee(s) of the business.
Once critical information about the owners and occupiers of the property is obtained, your lawyer will request records such as maintenance and cleaning logs. These records and a site visit to the property may uncover instances of negligent maintenance. Negligent maintenance occurs when a property owner or manager fails to take reasonable care of the property and maintain a safe condition. Maintenance logs may reveal that the property owner or manager failed to maintain, clean, or inspect the premises and/or properly document that information. Examples of negligent maintenance include:
- A floor surface that remains wet or slippery due to failure to clean it in a timely manner
- Missing warning signs indicating level changes, damaged walking paths, surface transition, spills, or closed walkways
- Failure to place slip resistant coverings on slippery materials
- Failure to address weather conditions and resulting hazards
- The floor or surface of a walkway is damaged and in need of repair, including torn carpet, uneven boards, potholes, or broken floor tiles
- Damaged or broken stairs
- Staircases missing handrails
- Inadequate or other lighting issues, including visibility and glare
If the police were contacted and responded to the incident, they may have created an incident report. Your lawyer will request and obtain a copy of this report and may want to interview the responding officers. Police reports are powerful pieces of evidence. Officers provide trusted, unbiased information regarding the scene of the accident and other details they witnessed upon their arrival. They typically also conduct witness interviews, which occur within minutes of the incident, making them the most powerful accounts of what happened. This information can also be helpful, especially if you could not obtain the names and contact information of witnesses due to your injury.
Ambulance, Emergency, and Other Medical Records
If you experience a trip and fall accident, you should seek prompt medical attention for your injuries. This will serve to clearly link your injuries to the fall that occurred. If an ambulance was called, and you received treatment from the paramedics, your lawyer will be able to request those records. These records usually provide a clear account of the moments directly following the incident, including your physical state and information regarding the fall site. Similarly, if you were taken for additional treatment to an emergency room, those records will also be important and may include a detailed description of your injuries as well as an explanation of what caused your accident.
If you sustained serious injuries as a result of your fall, you have likely received ongoing medical treatment. Your lawyer will want to obtain all medical records which may include records from chiropractors, surgeons, orthopedists, primary care physicians, therapists, and other medical professionals.
Photographs and Video Evidence
Photographic evidence can prove integral in trip and fall cases. Photographs or videos of the location where your fall occurred that show hazardous conditions like slippery surfaces, poor lighting, or damaged walkways can help to establish liability. If you have a trip and fall accident that you believe was the result of a property owner’s negligence, if you are physically able to, it is wise to take photographs and/or video of the area where you fell. If you are unable to and the fall occurred while you were with someone else, ask them to do so. It is important, if possible, to take photographs of the scene as closely after your fall as possible. Pay close attention to the floor’s surface. If any wetness, grease, or oil is present, be sure to photograph it. Take photographs of the larger area, too, including shots that indicate whether or not warning signage was present. If your fall occurred on a stairway, take photographs of the lighting, the stairs, the stairwell, and the handrail. If anything is broken, be sure to photograph it clearly.
If you were not able to obtain photographs or videos yourself after your fall, there may still be video evidence that can be obtained. Many public locations like grocery stores, restaurants, retail stores, and shopping centers have video surveillance and CCTV footage of their property. Your fall may have been caught on camera. That could prove essential because that footage shows what happened during your fall and what happened in the period leading up to your fall. Was a spill ignored for a long period of time before it caused you to slip and fall? Was warning signage improperly placed and not visible from the direction from which you came? These types of questions can help establish that the property owner was negligent and that their negligence resulted in your fall and injuries.
When a Fall Is the Result of Negligence
While falls are sometimes the result of clumsiness or carelessness, many trip and fall accidents are the direct result of a property owner or occupier’s negligence. Property owners and occupiers have a responsibility to ensure visitors are safe by ensuring that their properties are free of potential hazards. If they fail to maintain a safe environment, and you are injured as a result, you may have a claim against them for negligence and may be able to obtain compensation for your injuries and losses.
Have You or a Loved One Been Injured as a Result of a Property Owner’s Negligence?
Klein Lawyers has an outstanding track record of handling trip and fall cases. We have over 20 years of success and experience in the legal field. Working with an experienced lawyer is critical, and our team understands the trust clients place in us when we are representing them. We value that trust and feel honoured that so many clients choose our law firm to fight for them. We understand how to identify and investigate trip and fall incidents and determine whether or not there was negligence on behalf of the property owner and/or occupier. We have the resources, knowledge, and experience British Columbians need to get the justice and compensation they deserve.
Contact Us Today
Contact the Klein Lawyers team today at (604) 874-7171 for a free consultation with a Vancouver trip and fall lawyer. We serve clients injured in British Columbia and Class Action and Mass Tort clients throughout Canada. There is no obligation, and your consultation is completely confidential. We are here to help victims of a property owner and/or occupier’s negligence receive the justice they deserve.