Slip and fall or trip and fall accidents are some of the toughest types of cases to prosecute and win. In general, fall down accident cases boil down to two issues: 1. evidence of negligence and 2. extent of damages. This article will discuss evidence of negligence in fall down accident cases in Pennsylvania.
General Tort/Negligence Law Applicable in a Pennsylvania Slip & Fall Case
Under Pennsylvania negligence law, the plaintiff bears the burden of proof. This basically means that the plaintiff must prove every element of her case. Since the plaintiff is the one bringing the lawsuit, the plaintiff is required to prove the case.
In a fall down accident lawsuit in Pennsylvania, the person who fell and was injured becomes the plaintiff. In a subsequent lawsuit, the plaintiff must prove the following:
1. the defendant owed a duty to the plaintiff,
2. the defendant breached that duty,
3. the breach caused the injury, and
4. the nature and extent of the damages.
The first three elements really boil down to one issue – whether the defendant was negligent, and that depends on the evidence.
Evidence of Negligence in a Fall Down Accident Lawsuit in PA
Not every fall down accident is a viable case against the property owner, i.e., store, mall, restaurant, etc. Some people trip over their own feet. However, there are plenty of cases in which a property owner like a shopping mall fails to take reasonable care of the property and that failure causes a fall down accident.
Gathering evidence of the mechanism of injury, i.e., the thing which caused the accident, is crucial in a slip and fall or trip and fall accident case. Trying to win a fall down accident case without such evidence is like trying to drive a car without a steering wheel. The defect itself is what drives the case.
Therefore, after a fall down accident occurs, it is important to take photos of the defect. For example, if a broken step caused a fall down accident, pictures can show the extent of the defect and more importantly, how it looked at the time of the accident, preferably within hours after the accident.
In serious fall accident cases, when the injured person is unable to take photos, a family member or friend can go back to the scene and take photos. Of course, not having photos of the defect is not required to proceed with a fall accident case. However, the success of a fall accident case depends on the evidence. Visual evidence by way of a photo can be very convincing and ultimately help the plaintiff win.
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Page last updated: August 11, 2015