Slip and fall, trip and fall cases are usually more difficult than automobile related personal injury claims. Historically, and before the advent of surveillance technology, premises liability claims were often fertile areas of dispute. Without video a defendant was often less likely to be found liable.
In slip and trip and fall claims there are two (2) main types, transitory foreign substances, (think banana peel) and static condition (think “worn” carpeting). Florida has codified the elements necessary to establish a cause of action in foreign substance slip and falls by enacting §768.0755 Fla. Stat. (2010). The requirements are as follows. In a slip and fall involving a transitory foreign substance the plaintiff must prove that the business establishment had actual or constructive knowledge of the dangerous condition and should have taken action to remedy it. Constructive knowledge may be proven by circumstantial evidence showing that the dangerous condition existed for such a length of time that in the exercise of ordinary care the business establishment should have known of the condition or the condition occurred with regularity and was therefore foreseeable.
Surveillance videos have gained popularity and many accident scenes are now routinely recorded. It is important when involved in a slip or trip and fall that you consult with an experienced personal injury attorney. It is critical to do this as soon as possible after the accident. Most if not all experienced personal injury firms will immediately send a letter advising the defendant(s) to preserve any surveillance evidence and to avoid the destruction (spoliation) of any recordings, etc., it would have recorded contemporaneously at the time of the accident. Additionally, any experienced personal injury law firm will routinely send an investigator to gather evidence, photos, measurements, etc., to help bolster an injury claim.
Static condition in a slip and fall will generally be less dependent on surveillance evidence, but nonetheless a spoliation letter should be sent to the defendant to preserve evidence and if necessary an investigator to gather evidence. In a static condition claim it is important to have photographic evidence of the scene as close in time as possible to the incident giving rise to the claim.
*This Post has been authored by Marc Epstein, Esq.