Are there evidentiary challenges in a slip and fall case?

More than just private property owners owe a duty of care to invited guests. In a recent example, a regional school district is defending against a premises liability action brought by a victim of an alleged slip and fall injury.

The complaint claims that plaintiff fell and suffered injuries due to a defect in a sidewalk on school property. The plaintiff claims that the school was negligent in its duty to upkeep its property, including the sidewalk. Yet even a premises liability lawsuit can get bogged down in litigation delays. In this case, the plaintiff has filed a motion for sanctions because the defendants allegedly failed to respond to their discovery requests.

In a civil case, the discovery period usually opens after a scheduling conference and is the designated time for exchanging written discovery, such as interrogatories or document production requests. Depositions should also be conducted during that period, and third parties can be subpoenaed for information.

Slip-and-fall claims, for example, require more than just a showing of injuries that a plaintiff may have suffered as a result of a fall. The prerequisite showing of liability is proving that the defendant violated its duty of care regarding the inspection, maintenance and repair of its property.

Evidence establishing a breach in that duty might include photographs of the hazardous condition, which creates a presumption that a defect existed over a period of time and/or was so serious that it should have been discovered and repaired. Yet there may be other ways of proving negligence in a slip-and-fall case. Check out our law firm’s webpage to learn more legal strategies in bringing premises liability claims.