The Anatomy of a Trip and Fall Case

A recent lawsuit has been filed by a tenant in an apartment building who allegedly injured herself after she stepped in an uncovered hole. Denise Sanders filed suit against Eagle Investments, Inc. and its insurer in the 24th Judicial District Court of Jefferson Parish. The plaintiff alleges that she is a tenant of an apartment complex in the City of Avondale and that while she was walking in the complex she tripped and fell after stepping in the uncovered hole. She contends that she has sustained serious personal injuries from the incident. The defendant is accused of failing to inspect the property, failing to properly maintain the property, failing to warn tenants of defective conditions, and allowing a dangerous and defective condition to exist. Damages are being sought for pain and suffering, permanent damage, loss of enjoyment of life, and medical expenses.

Many trip and fall lawsuits are complicated and need a highly experienced attorney to prove the necessary elements. These types of lawsuits are usually governed by Article 2317.1 of the Louisiana Civil Code. The article provides that “The owner or custodian of a thing is answerable for damage occasioned by its ruin, vice, or defect, only upon a showing that he knew or, in the exercise of reasonable care, should have known of the ruin, vice, or defect which caused the damage, that the damage could have been prevented by the exercise of reasonable care, and that he failed to exercise such reasonable care. Nothing in this Article shall preclude the court from the application of the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur in an appropriate case.” Res Ipsa Loquitur is a legal theory that will allow a jury to use circumstantial evidence to find that there is negligence when there is no direct evidence of the actual happening of the event. A classic example where this legal theory comes into play is in a medical malpractice action when a patient is injured while under anesthesia and the patient was injured in a place that is remote from the surgical site.

A trip and fall type of action requires proof that the thing contained a defect which presented an unreasonable risk of harm to others, that this defective condition caused the damage and that the defendant knew or should have known of the defect. Pamplin v. Bossier Parish Community College. To determine whether a condition is unreasonably dangerous, courts use a four part test. This test requires consideration of: 1) the utility of the complained-of condition, 2) the likelihood and magnitude of the harm, which includes the obviousness and apparentness of the condition, 3) the cost of preventing the harm, and 4) the nature of the plaintiff’s activities in terms of its social utility, or whether it is dangerous by nature. Dauzat v. Curnest Guillot Logging, Inc. A landowner will not be liable for an injury which results from a condition which should have been observed by the individual in the exercise of reasonable care, or which was as obvious to a visitor as it was to the landowner. In determining the reasonableness of a risk, the court must consider the broad range of social, economic, and moral factors and the social utility of the plaintiff’s conduct at the time of the accident. Graves v. Page.

Looking at the elements that must be proven in a trip and fall case may scare a victim into not filing a lawsuit, but there are some things that a person can do to strengthen their case. First, you should contact a highly experienced attorney to handle your case. Cliff Cardone has been described as the “go-to” attorney in Louisiana for personal injury victims. Next, you should try and document the location of where the fall occurred. If the fall occurred away from a dangerous place, then it is a good idea to go back and take photos and videos of the defect in the sidewalk or wherever you have fallen. Also, it is important to try to take measurements of where you have fallen to show that the spot was an unreasonable risk of harm. It may also be wise to document any other factors that may play a part of the case such as the shoes you were wearing, if it was raining, or any other condition that played a part in the fall.

For the finest in advice and representation regarding your personal injuries, consult the Louisiana injury attorneys at the Cardone Law Firm right away to discuss your case. Our attorneys have the knowledge and experiences you need to help you pursue your injury claims. For your confidential consultation contact us online or phone Cardone at 1-888-89-CARDONE (1-888-892-2736) or 504-522-3333.