Trip and Fall Cases
Trip and fall cases really fall into two main categories: (1) uneven surfaces where people walk, including bunched carpets, step-offs in floors, differentials between sidewalk slabs, or cracked, uneven, or deteriorated sidewalks or pavement, or uneven steps or stairs, and (2) objects left on the ground or floor where people are prone to trip over them.
Whether your case involves an uneven or cracked walking surface or an object left where you tripped over it, the rules of law are essentially the same. In every trip and fall case, the main issue distills to this: Did the property owner take "reasonable" measures to (1) prevent the tripping hazard from being there; (2) inspect or check for tripping hazards or other dangerous conditions; and (3) remove or fix the tripping hazard promptly when it was first noticed. In a trip and fall cases, the premises owner is liable only if he failed to take "reasonable" measures to assure that his property was "reasonably" safe. The main issue, then, is what is "reasonable". Juries differ about what is "reasonable", so these cases are sometimes hard to predict.
Most trip and fall cases turn on whether the property owner had "notice" of the tripping hazard. The issue of whether the owner had "notice", in legal talk, means whether he "knew or should have known" of the tripping danger. If the injured trip-and-fall victim can prove "notice", and the owner failed to fix or remedy the tripping hazard, then it follows that the owner did not act reasonably, failed in his duty, and is liable for the injuries.
If the property owner created the hazard through some affirmative act, then it is not generally necessary to show he had "notice" of the defect. For example, if a property owner builds a step that later collapses under the weight of a guest, the owner may be held liable for the resulting injuries even though the owner did not have "notice" that the step was a hazard. The premises owner is liable not because he was aware of the hazard, but because he negligently built the step. He obviously did not follow good and safe step-building practices.
Other issues that come up in trip-and-fall cases are: Was there a good reason for the object tripped over to be there? Was it better and safer place to put it? Could a barrier or a warning sign have been placed near the tripping hazard? Did poor lighting play a part in the trip-and-fall victim's failure to notice of see the danger? A competent trip-and-fall attorney will explore and investigate all these issues.
The Syracuse trip and fall lawyers of Michaels & Smolak have recovered millions of dollars for clients injured in trip-and-fall accidents and for other injuries to cover their medical bills, lost earnings, pain and suffering, and more. If you or a loved one has tripped, fallen and been injured, CONTACT US for a free consultation with an experienced lawyer who can inform you of your legal rights and maximize your compensation.