To Establish Slip-and-Fall Causation, You Have a Burden to Prove Every Link in the Chain of Causation
When injured in a slip and fall, some people may be disillusioned into thinking getting compensation is a quick and simple process. Unfortunately, that is not the case. In reality, a slip and fall victim, as a plaintiff, has a burden to meet before receiving adequate compensation for their injuries. It’s not as easy as showing a crack in the pavement and x-rays to a judge or jury. You need to prove causation, which could be a lengthy process. In other words, you will have to prove that the Defendant’s actions were the proximate (or legal) cause of your injuries. This process is accomplished in 4 steps, which many people visualize as being links in a chain of causation.
1) The first link that must be established is a link between breach & hazard
This is the main focus of most slip and fall injury lawsuits. Many actions of property owners could prove a link to your slip and fall injury. For example: Was there inadequate inspection or maintenance of the property? Was there failure to warn property occupants of dangers? Did a Defendant create or maintain a condition that presented a danger? Was there a failure to inspect, detect, and correct hazards? Any of these actions could lead to potential slip and fall hazards.
2) The second link that must be established is a link between hazard & accident.
Just because there is a hazard on a premises does not mean it was a substantial contributing factor in all accidents. For example, a slippery step at a staircase’s landing that is out of code most likely will not be a contributing factor in a fall that takes place at the top of a stairwell. Likewise, a defective handrail may not be a factor in causing a fall by someone using both hands to carry groceries up the stairs. To establish this link, experienced personal injury attorneys like Dolman Law Group often rely on the testimony of experts. For example, a customer who falls on a marginally slippery floor might need expert testimony to show the fall was in fact consistent with someone falling under those circumstances.
3) The third link that must be established is a link between accident & injury.
Mechanics of a fall are relatively simple to establish by relying on the testimony of the injured party and witnesses. Usually, medical records contain a narrative correlating accident and injury. Some cases are self-evident. For example, there is usually no issue regarding this link if an individual slips and falls, lands on his side, and suffers a broken hip. Where there are no obvious connections, however, expert medical testimony may be needed to establish this link in the chain.
4) The fourth link that must be established is a link between injury & damages.
Lost wages and Medical expenses can be proven by documents already available, such as bills and paystubs. Other special damages are usually supported by documents as well. General damages are another story. When judgment is mostly subjective, the link is more difficult to establish. Diaries, photographs, and videotapes can all be quite helpful in substantiating general damages. Witnesses willing to testify regarding the plaintiff's pain, suffering and change in lifestyle can also make a difference. So remember if you fall to get contact information from anyone who may have seen the occurrence, or those who see how a fall has affected your daily routine.
Receiving the compensation you deserve after a debilitating injury is a complicated process, but you don’t have to go through it alone. The qualified attorneys at Dolman Law Group have years of experience helping slip and fall victims establish the causal links necessary to win their claim. If you or a loved one has been injured in a slip and fall, give us a call today. We would be happy to discuss any potential claims at a no cost consultation. (727)451-690