No matter what you might have heard, there is no such thing as an “easy” slip and fall case.
Just because you slip on something in a store does not make that store automatically responsible for your injuries and liable for your resulting damages. To know if you have an injury claim against a store, you must first understand the law and how it will apply to your unique situation.
A Store’s Duty to Protect Customers
There are four basic elements to every injury claim:
Duty is often the hardest element to prove in any slip and fall case. Typically, stores that are open to the public have a duty to make reasonable inspections, maintain their premises, and warn people of any dangerous or unsafe conditions. This would include, for example, slippery or uneven floors. While these rules might seem obvious, they can complicate a slip and fall claim in ways you might not expect.
Anytime a customer falls, some of the first questions asked will be:
- What caused the person to fall?
- Did the employees know about the unsafe condition?
- Should the employees have known if they didn’t?
Active & Constructive Notice in Slip and Fall Claims
A store will generally be responsible for a slip and fall accident based on the theories of active or constructive notice. A prior complaint of a slippery floor to a store employee is considered active notice. If the store knew about a slippery floor and failed to act in a reasonable amount of time, then the store would be responsible for failing to make the premises safe. The hardest part for the attorney managing a client’s slip and fall claim is proving that a store had active notice. It is very rare that the injured party will have a witness who knew of the dangerous condition and can prove that the store was aware of it, too.
Since cases of active notice are rare, the main path to prevailing in a slip and fall case is through constructive notice. Constructive notice occurs when a store should have known of the dangerous condition but didn’t due to a failure to inspect the area and/or make it safe. This failure can often be proven by showing a lapse in time on security footage, missing or incomplete safety inspection records, and so forth.
Preserving Evidence Before It Disappears
The key to success in any personal injury case is to move as quickly as possible to preserve evidence. Without a written notice from an attorney, the store involved in a slip and fall accident has no ethical obligation to hold evidence for an extended period of time. Most security footage is overwritten within the first 24 hours or 7 days. Reports of injuries, witnesses, and photos may get discarded if no proper request is made within that same amount of time.
Insurance companies understand the many legal challenges to proving a store’s negligence in a slip and fall case. Therefore, it is important to hire an attorney early on in the process to preserve the evidence that is needed to win your case.
For slip and fall accident cases in Laurel, Maryland, you can count on McGowan & Cecil, LLC for responsive and respectful legal representation. We are a well-established injury firm in the greater Baltimore area with more than 120 years of collective experience and 100% focus on personal injury claims like yours. Call (301) 761-2007 now to see what we can do to get your case moving soon while evidence of your slip and fall is still available.