A picture is worth a thousand words, especially when it can help support a personal injury liability case involving slips, trips, and falls. These incidents can occur anywhere, including:
- grocery and retail stores
- office and bank building lobbies
- schools and daycares
- auto repair shops
- hospitals and medical offices
- inside vacation rental properties
Falls frequently happen at a person’s place of employment or on parking lots and sidewalks as well. Often, photos are among the most important evidence in slip and fall claims.
More than three million older Americans receive emergency care each year as a result of slip and fall accidents, many of which are completely preventable. However, personal injury cases involving slips, trips, and falls can be difficult to prove since they rely on the legal theory that someone else’s negligence caused the victim’s injuries.
Documenting the scene of a slip and fall through photographs can help you and your attorney prove your case to the insurance company or in court. By providing a clear picture of the accident site and documenting your injuries, you’ve helped your attorney build a case for compensation before anyone sits down at the negotiating table.
The personal injury attorneys at Berry Law can assess your claim and calculate the appropriate figure that will compensate you for the injuries you sustained in a slip, trip, and fall accident.
What Evidence Can Help Establish Liability in a Slip and Fall Case?
Employers and property owners are obligated under the law to maintain safety standards to protect their employees, customers, and guests from accidents. They are charged with routinely monitoring their property and practicing preventative measures before an accident occurs. Even so, an estimated 2,000 slip, trip, and fall accidents are reported daily in the United States. More troubling, approximately 700 people die from falls each year.
Premises liability refers to a property owner’s or manager’s failure to maintain safety standards that could have prevented injuries to a customer, guest, employee, or patient. With sufficient evidence, that individual or entity may be found negligent and declared financially responsible for the injuries caused by their negligence.
For example, a Failure to Warn accident could occur when a property owner or employee fails to notify the public that the floor in their property is wet due to a spill or cleaning. If no sign is posted and an individual is injured from falling on the spill, the property owner could be found liable because they failed to warn about the hazard and protect the public.
The 4 Legal Elements of a Slip and Fall Case
In personal injury claims , the following elements must be proven for a premises liability case to exist:
- The property owner or manager had a duty of care toward any invited guest or customer.
- The owner or manager breached their duty of care in some way by failing to protect the guest or customer.
- The breach of duty directly caused the victim’s injuries.
- The injuries resulted in damages for the victim.
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What are The Most Common Causes of Slip and Fall Accidents?
Many different situations can lead to a fall. From inclement weather to lack of maintenance, dangerous conditions are everywhere. Some of the most common causes of trip or slip and fall accidents include:
- Slick or uneven walking surfaces made hazardous by spilled liquid or food
- Loose mats, rugs, or flooring
- Crumbling parking lots and sidewalks, and
- Recently mopped or waxed floors
In other situations, floor mats that don’t lay flush on the floor without bunching up can contribute to tripping, while accumulations of grease or cleaning products may also cause walking surfaces to become slick.
Photos of Wet Floors Can Show Liability
Wet floor accidents are some of the most common reasons that people slip, with spills and leaks the likely culprits. Employees and property owners are responsible for reporting and cleaning up spills and leaks as soon as they are noticed.
Clutter Photos Can Help Build a Claim
In stores and other commercial buildings, clutter in aisleways, stairways, and lobbies can contribute to these types of incidents if these objects block walkways, retail storerooms, and other areas that require access. Empty boxes, trash, and other debris can be a problem.
Pictures of Room Decorations Can Be Helpful
Even poorly arranged furniture, certain floor coverings, and low-lying drawers or cabinet doors that haven’t been closed fully can all create tripping hazards. With so much technology requiring charging cords, loose or unsecured cords or cables can catch on feet as people walk past.
Photos Depicting Current Weather Can Explain a Fall
Weather-related hazards like ice, snow, or rain can cause slick walking surfaces to develop very quickly. Property owners have an obligation to remove weather accumulation from sidewalks, steps, and parking lots before allowing the public to walk on them again.
Also, when rain, snow, or ice is tracked into a building, the owner or property manager has a responsibility to clean and dry any wet areas. If they cannot keep up with the water, they must warn about potential dangerous conditions for those entering the building.
A Photo Showing an Obstructed View Can Be Key
Obstructed views can pose a serious tripping hazard. Poor lighting can also contribute to visibility problems.
Lack of Maintenance Can Be Proven Through Photographs
A lack of safety railings on stairs and ramps or loose and broken handrails or floorboards are also major contributors to slip, trip, and fall accidents. Fall accidents involving stairways and stairwells can lead to serious injuries, including cuts, bruises, scrapes, fractures, paralysis, and even death.
Loose or damaged handrails or banisters can provide the public with a false sense of security and actually increase the severity of injuries should they buckle under a person’s body weight. In this case, video or photographic evidence can show how the seemingly safe handrail was loose or insufficient and should have been repaired.
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Who is Most at Risk of Slipping and Falling?
Falling incidents are most common in people over age 55, with nursing homes and retirement communities reporting some of the highest incident rates.
Nationally, only about two percent of slip and fall personal injury cases ever make it to a jury trial. This may be because the victim feels that they are somehow to blame for their own injuries. Or the claim may settle out of court before reaching trial.
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What Challenges do Slip and Fall Victims Face when Seeking Compensation?
A liability insurer may challenge the validity or amount of a slip and fall personal injury case. Likewise, a business or property owner may deny that they have any liability at all, blaming the victim to avoid financial responsibility. on.
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How Can Photographs Help My Slip and Fall Case?
If you’ve been involved in a slip and fall, it’s crucial to document the scene using photos or video, if you are able. Photographs and videos can help establish liability for the injuries you sustained. If you are physically unable to take photos, ask a family member or other witness to help you.
If possible, include both close-up shots and some from further away, capturing any lack of safety precautions or hazards present on camera. Try to take photos from several different angles because liquid can be especially difficult to photograph due to glares and reflections.
Having photographic evidence of the following situations can help document negligent behavior for the insurance company or court and serve as invaluable evidence if a personal injury lawsuit becomes necessary:
- Missing or broken handrails on stairs or ramps
- Failure to post caution or warning signs near slippery surfaces
- The absence of runner carpets on hard surfaces when it rains or snows that could prevent liquid from pooling
- Improper maintenance of flooring that is peeling, missing, broken, or uneven
- Leaky ceilings, appliances, or fixtures
- Spills of liquids, foods, body fluids, or other hazards
- Parking lots, walkways, sidewalks, steps, and porches that are snowy and ice-packed
- Crumbling or uneven pavement
- A lack of proper lighting
In addition to having photographs of the accident scene itself, be sure to photograph the extent and severity of any injuries received in the fall. Injuries could include cuts, bruises, scrapes, and fractures.
The compensation you receive may include pain and suffering endured as a result of the accident, so it’s important to illustrate the full extent of your injuries for an insurance company or jury to see. Since outward physical injuries heal over time, they may look very different at the time the incident happened compared to the settlement negotiation or court date. Documenting the entire healing process can help a jury understand how your injuries progressed and appeared over time.
Also, be sure to photograph the clothing and shoes you were wearing during the accident, especially if they were wet or soiled. These photos might provide proof that you fell due to liquid or other unexpected substance.
Tips for Obtaining the Best Photographic Evidence Possible After a Fall
Some helpful tips for taking photos include:
- Use a flash in low-lighting settings and avoid glares or reflections that obscure important details.
- Take clear images. Blurry photos risk being rejected once they reach court.
- Eliminate as much clutter as possible from your photos before taking them unless the objects contributed to your fall. Clutter can detract attention away from what you’re trying to document.
- Avoid using filters because they can alter an image, giving a defense attorney grounds to question their reliability in court.
- Back your evidence up by making copies to provide to the court and storing any electronic files to prevent lost evidence.
Trust Berry Law to Help Build a Solid Slip and Fall Claim Including Photographic Evidence
Providing clear, reliable photographic documentation of a slip and fall accident scene, your resulting injuries, and your clothing and shoes can give you and your attorney a leg up when preparing a personal injury claim. The experienced team at Berry Law will examine the photographs you provide, or possibly try to take photographs after the event to formulate a strategy to fight for the full compensation you deserve.
Reach out today for a free consultation.