Trip and fall cases fall under the umbrella of premises liability cases. Victims must prove they suffered an injury due to a dangerous condition being present on a property. Victims must also prove property owners knew, or should have known, of the dangerous condition, and negligently failed to repair or provide warning to potential victims. This knowledge, or notice element, can make it difficult for victims to win trip and fall cases. Victims need experienced trip and fall lawyers who know how to efficiently investigate and litigate premise liability cases.
What Evidence Is Useful?
A victim has a better chance to win an injury case if he or she obtains evidence of the property owner’s negligence. Trip and fall accidents occur in a variety of settings, such as private residences, commercial properties, private businesses, and public buildings. Some settings offer more evidence than others. Evidence typically includes eyewitness testimony, medical records, and photos of the scene. Some properties are equipped with video surveillance systems. Many commercial properties also have maintenance and custodial staff, which means they usually keep maintenance records. A trip and fall attorney can use this evidence to prove negligence.
How Does Evidence Prove Negligence?
Illinois law requires a victim to prove their case by a preponderance of the evidence. Trip and fall cases are fact-dependent. If a victim is unable to prove how long the hazardous condition was present or that the owner had knowledge of the condition, the victim’s chances of winning are reduced. Eyewitness testimony is useful as witnesses can describe the dangerous condition and how long it was present. Photographs can demonstrate the obvious nature of the hazardous condition. Video footage can be strong evidence of how long the hazardous condition was present on the property. Maintenance records document how often maintenance is performed, or not performed.
How Can Evidence Help Defeat Legal Defenses?
A defense property owners typically assert is lack of knowledge or that the condition would not have been discovered during a routine inspection. Evidence of a property owner’s negligence can defeat these defenses. It is more difficult for property owners to argue lack of knowledge if surveillance footage, photographs, eyewitness testimony, or maintenance records indicate that dangerous condition was present for a long period of time. This evidence can also demonstrate the obvious nature of the dangerous condition, and can defeat the defense that it would not have been discovered.