Nearly everyone has experienced a slip, a trip, or a fall at some point in their life. Most of the time, slip and fall accidents are relatively minor, leaving the impacted person with a bruised bottom and perhaps a sore ego. Usually, these accidents are insignificant enough that one can even laugh about them later on. Less commonly, slip and fall accidents are more serious.
Depending on the circumstances of the accident and the person involved, a slip and fall could lead to severe injuries, including a traumatic brain injury, bone fracture injury, internal injury, soft tissue injury, back or neck injury, and more.
After being involved in a serious slip and fall accident, it can be difficult to navigate one’s rights and understand the options for recovering damages. When the slip and fall is due to the negligence or fault of a property owner, the injured party can file a claim directly against the property owner for damages. One of the best ways to prove the fault of the property owner is to identify a witness who can testify to having seen the accident or provide context related to circumstances leading up to the accident.
While witness testimony is unarguably one of the most important and useful types of evidence during a slip and fall claim, it’s not the only one. Consider the following information related to what you should know about slip and fall cases and how to prove a slip and fall accident without a witness. For help along the way, call the experienced personal injury lawyers in Schaumburg, Illinois at Claim Your Justice.
Common Causes of Slip and Fall Accidents
Before thinking about what to do if you don’t have a witness, it’s important to understand the basics of a slip and fall accident claim, including some of the most common causes of slip and fall accidents. Over our years representing slip and fall accident victims in Schaumburg and the surrounding areas of our state, we’ve identified the following as some of the most common causes of slip and fall accidents.
- Torn carpet
- Spills of food and drink
- Uneven walking surfaces
- Potholes and depressions
- Broken elevators and escalators
- Workplace safety violations
- Broken stairs
- Snow and ice
- Lack of handrails
For nearly all of the above, the causes of slip and fall accidents are preventable and would not occur but for a property owner’s failure to remedy the hazard. This is important because it shows that even when the testimony of an eyewitness is not possible, common sense and case history show that the most common causes of slip and fall accidents are things that could be fixed; these types of accidents are avoidable.
Liability for a Slip and Fall
Like other types of personal injury accidents, liability for a slip and fall is based on negligence — the failure to exercise the proper degree of care for the situation. For property owners, a property owner is responsible for maintaining a property in a reasonably safe condition. When a property owner breaches this duty of care and it causes another harm, the property owner can be held liable.
A property owner can be held liable for a slip and fall accident when:
- A dangerous condition existed on their property. A dangerous condition could refer to any number of things, including the list of common causes of slip and fall listed above, such as snow accumulation, broken stairs, depressions or holes in walking surfaces, etc.
- The property owner knew or should have known of the condition. If there is evidence that the property owner knew or should have known of the condition, they can be held liable if they failed to remedy it. Proving that the property owner knew or should have known of the condition is one of the most difficult parts of winning a slip and fall claim and is where the testimony of a witness can be invaluable. If no witness is available, there are other types of evidence that can be presented to prove this element.
- The property owner failed to remedy the condition in a reasonable amount of time. If a property owner is aware of a hazardous condition on their property, they are required to remedy the condition within a reasonable amount of time. For example, if the escalator with a department store is broken, the owner/manager of the store should immediately put up a notice that the escalator is not in service, and then should schedule repairs as soon as possible. Another example of this is in the case of a spill within a grocery store: as soon as the store manager (or an employee) learns of the spill, they should clean it up. If the spill were to be left unattended for hours, this would be considered unreasonable.
- The condition is the proximate cause of harm. Finally, a property owner can be held liable if the plaintiff/victim can prove that not only did a dangerous condition exist and that the property owner knew or should have known of the condition and failed to remedy it within a reasonable amount of time, but also that the condition was the proximate cause of your harm. In other words, you must be able to prove that your injuries would not have occurred but for the dangerous condition.
These elements mirror the elements of a personal injury claim:
- Duty of care. The duty of care that a property owner owes to someone on their property varies depending on the status of the visitor. For those who are on the property lawfully, the property owner owes the duty of care discussed above; if someone is not lawfully on the property, then the property owner owes no duty to the trespasser but to refrain from causing willful or wanton harm.
- Breach of duty of care. If the property owner breaches the duty of care owed to you, they can be held liable for injuries that result.
- The breach of the duty of care was the proximate cause of harm. Again, you’ll need to prove that your slip and fall and related injuries would not have occurred but for the breach of duty of care.
Types of Evidence You Can Use in a Slip and Fall Case When You Don’t Have a Witness
Having an eyewitness who can testify to the existence of the defective condition, the property owner’s knowledge of the condition, or/and your accident and how the condition caused or contributed to it, is incredibly valuable. If you don’t have a witness, the following types of evidence can also be valuable in a slip and fall claim.
- Video recordings. Sometimes, security cameras capture slip and fall accidents on tape. Your attorney can request access to any video footage if it exists.
- Maintenance and repair logs. Many stores and properties maintain logs that detail the condition of the property, as well as any maintenance or repairs that take place. For example, a repair log could indicate that a customer filed a complaint about a broken stair or an unsafe condition, as well as whether or not any action was taken to remedy the condition.
- Physical evidence at the scene. Physical evidence at the scene can be very helpful. Even if other types of evidence don’t exist, photographs of the scene that clearly document a hazard can be used to build your claim.
- Expert opinion. When you work with a slip and fall attorney, your attorney can hire experts who can build your case. Most valuable, perhaps, is an accident reconstruction expert who can reconstruct what happened and offer clues about who’s to blame.
- Your testimony. Of course, in addition to the above, the testimony that you as the victim of a slip and fall give can be invaluable.
Why Work with Our Schaumburg Personal Injury Attorney
When you hire the personal injury attorneys at the office of Claim Your Justice, you can count on our law firm to handle 100 percent of your case for you, including gathering all of the evidence you need and building a compelling case. As you focus on your recovery, we’ll focus on hiring experts, visiting the scene of the slip and fall accident, sending spoliation of evidence letters, talking to any witnesses (if there are any), reviewing maintenance logs, checking for video footage, calculating your damages, and more. We’ll handle filing your claim and negotiating your settlement. Throughout the entire process, you can count on us to remain available and accessible.
Call Us Today
We know how scary being involved in a slip and fall accident is, especially when you’re not sure what your rights are or how to recover compensation. When you call our law firm, you can count on us to work hard for you. We have years of experience and a reputation for excellence.
To learn more about our Schaumburg slip and fall attorneys and the services we offer, please call us directly at 847-434-3555 or send us a message at your convenience. We offer free consultations and always work on a contingency fee basis.