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Proving Slip and Fall Claims in Prince George’s County

The plaintiff has to prove that there is a defect or something wrong with the premises that caused an injury. They have to prove that the defendants had notice of it, which means that they were aware of it in some way and had sufficient time to fix it. There are two elements involved in that. There could be actual notice, which means that someone was aware of the issue. For example, if there was a crack in a step, someone might have reported it to either the owner or the person who maintained the building, or someone might have been made aware that there was something spilled on the floor that caused someone to slip. The other type of notice is constructive notice, which means that the problem existed for a sufficient amount of time that anyone in the reasonable course of operations and inspections of the premises would have noticed. If the plaintiff can’t prove either of those two things, then they have to prove that the defendant created the defect that caused the injuries.

How do you go about proving your case?

It all boils down to conducting a proper and exhaustive investigation and doing so as soon as possible. You have to recreate the action as best as possible so you have all the information you need to bring a case. You have to prove that there was a defect that caused the injury. You also have to prove that the defendants were aware of it or, if they weren’t aware of it, that it existed for a very long time and they should have been aware in the ordinary course of their business. Otherwise, you have to prove that they somehow created it in order to prove liability.

What evidence do you present in a slip and fall case?

You have to present evidence that there was a defect in some way and that someone on the premises acted negligently. You also have to prove the connection between the defect and the operation of the business, either that they knew about the defect or they created it. In addition, you have to prove that the person who encountered the defect was injured because of it.

How do you go about collecting that evidence?

The best way is to take photos of everything as soon as possible in order to preserve the area where the accident occurred as it was at the time of the slip and fall.  Something like snow and ice is a transient condition and it might not be there the next day or after a few days. The best way of getting proof is to capture the defect in its condition at the time that you encountered it via photographs or video. You also want to make sure that the store or the premises is made aware of your slip and fall and the mechanism that caused your fall and either creates an accident  report or puts signs in the area. You can get the information about that through discovery in a lawsuit. You can get their maintenance records, inspection records, or other work records that show who is responsible for maintaining, inspecting, and repairing of certain areas of the premises, when those inspections, maintenance, or repairs were actually conducted, who performed those functions, and what was done.

How often are slip and fall cases litigated at trial?

Only about five to 10 percent of cases are litigated at trial, so not many.

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