Common Challenges When Pursuing a Slip and Fall Injury Case
Most personal injury attorneys understand from experience that slip and fall injury cases can be challenging for several reasons. Their success is usually dependent on the material case facts and potential problems when establishing the negligent party.
Injuries that occur in remote locations can be particularly problematic when an owner or property manager cannot be located. Many times the accident investigation will include searching property tax and ownership records to pinpoint a responsible party. In addition, remote location injuries also still require a police report to establish the fact of where the injury occurred and establish a timeline of what actually happened. When you add the fact that slip and fall injuries are also usually defended strongly, each juncture of the negotiation process can present challenges.
Establishing the Facts
Personal injury attorneys have a standard requirement in the first stages of any injury claim.
- They must establish by documentation or testimony that an accident happened resulting in injury to their client and that the accident was the fault or responsibility of the respondent.
- That alone can be difficult in some instances, but injuries that occur in public businesses or urban residences will usually be easier to establish.
- Police reports can help as can medical documentation. But, not having solid documentation makes it much easier for the defense.
Some states also allow personal injury attorneys to file “John Doe” lawsuits while attempting to locate a negligent party who could be pursued for damages. This allows the claimant access to the court system before the statute of limitations expires. However, in the absence of establishing who is at-fault, recovering damages is next to impossible.
Once a respondent is identified, Long Island work injury lawyers and personal injury attorneys can begin negotiations with the respondent and their insurance provider. In the event they do not have insurance or assets that can be liquidated, attempting to collect damages may be futile.
When an insurance company is involved, the company normally provides the legal counsel for the respondent. It is important to remember that insurance companies have significant input regarding proving liability because they have several defenses at their disposal, including claiming the injured plaintiff was personally responsible for the accident. This negotiation is centered around the legal concept of comparative fault, and depending on the state, the case can actually be dismissed if the injured plaintiff has made any contribution to the accident through unreasonable assumption of personal risk. Many times in slip and fall injuries this can only be accomplished through testimonial depositions from witnesses, which can also be contested.
Going to Trial
Another significant challenge for a slip and fall attorney is when a case is defended completely to the trial phase. Going to trial can be requested by either party in a slip and fall injury case. Many times this process presents difficulties with respect to choosing a jury and presenting the case effectively. When insurance companies take the case to trial, they are banking on the jury accepting their argument that they are not liable.
When the plaintiff’s legal counselors take a case to trial, they are banking on the hope that the jury will issue a financial award and in some instances, a punitive damage award in cases of gross negligence. The plaintiff’s lawyer has the charge of proving gross negligence, which can be particularly difficult in slip and fall cases. Most slip and fall injuries are accidents and rarely occur due to an intentional act, although that can happen. The amount of evidence required can matter greatly in a trial where potential gross negligence is a factor.
Slip and fall injury claims can be the most challenging of all civil claims to win because evidence can be difficult to uncover. It is never a good decision to attempt handling a slip and fall claim personally. Always get an experienced slip and fall attorney who knows what to expect for a defense and understands how to craft a solid case.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from Polsky, Shouldice & Rosen P.C. for their insight into common challenges when pursuing a slip and fall injury case.