Trip-and-Fall Lawsuits: Who Can Sue
Trip-and-fall lawsuits involve at first a trip, which results in an ungraceful fall to the ground. One may have heard of a slip-and-fall lawsuit, where the precipitating event is a slip, as opposed to a trip. A trip results when a person’s foot encounters an abrupt object coming up from the ground, or when the foot steps into an unexpected pothole.
Firstly, in order to sue for a trip and fall, a person needs to have a legally “cognizable” injury, that is, an injury that is legally accepted as such. Temporary pain, inconvenience, or “injuries” that heal themselves quickly and without medical treatment are usually not sufficient to recover damages in a trip-and-fall.
Secondly, in order to sue, a person needs to have some legal relationship with the person in charge of the property, such that the person in charge has some legal duty to protect or warn the person of dangers on the property. This kind of relationship arises when a pedestrian trips and falls in a store or shopping mall meant to invite members of the public. It also arises when a person trips and falls on public sidewalks maintained by the city. Lastly, it arises when a person trips and falls in a private residence where the person has been allowed on the premises. Employers owe a safe working place to their employees.
Lastly, the danger needs to be truly unreasonable. It needs to be unexpected, surprising, a “trap,” and / or unusual in the area. The danger causing the trip-and-fall needs to be extreme enough that a reasonable person who heard of it would declare it unsafe.
Given the above requirements, any victim of a trip-and-fall has the right to sue. A person does not need to hold any special place or honor in society, such as a high-paying job, a public office, or a home. A person can be homeless and jobless; however, this may affect the credibility of their story, particularly if the hazard was not extreme.
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Last Modified: 07-01-2013 04:30 PM PDT
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