TRIP AND FALL ACCIDENTS: WHAT DO YOU NEED TO PROVE?

One of the most common ways people are injured is by tripping over something or slipping on something and falling down.  If this kind of accident happens at work and on the employer’s property then workers’ compensation is the primary remedy.

However, if the accident occurs off the employer’s property, if someone other than an employer or a co-worker was responsible for the hazard, or off the job altogether, then you may be able to pursue a negligence lawsuit against the property owner or other responsible party.

To succeed in a trip-and-fall case, there are a number of things you must prove.  First, you must show that the defect satisfies a “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” sort of test.  If the condition was very minor, it may be considered too trivial to be the likely cause of an injury.  On the other hand, if the condition was glaringly apparent then it may be found “open and obvious,” meaning the accident was the person’s own fault for not avoiding it.  Defects that are neither trivial nor open and obvious are “just right.”

Next, you must show that the party you are suing either created the defect in the first place or that they had control over the area, that the defect had been there long enough for them to be aware of it (or they were actually aware) and to fix it, and they did not do so.  When suing a municipality, there is usually the additional requirement of showing that it had “prior written notice” of the condition.

After that, of course, you must still prove that the defect was the cause of the accident and that you were injured.

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