Proving negligence in slip and fall case

Asked almost 3 years ago - Huntington, NY

A few years back my mother was at a large retail store. She slipped on a wet floor and had a compound fracture of her ankle. She was rushed to the hospital for surgery and required months of rehab, pins in her ankle etc... the large store will not settle and instead wants to go to trial. I don't see how to prove they were negligent but how can they prove they were not? My mom did in fact fall and really get hurt. There are ambulance, police report and surgery reports that the accident did happen in this store. What to do next? My mom is going on her 3rd attorney as they seem to be getting nowhere and in fact taking their time to get anything done. My mom can be somewhat of a pain to her attorneys but it is not fair that this last one dropped her as she did really get hurt.

Attorney answers (4)

  1. Mary Katherine Brown

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    Contributor Level 20

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    Answered . It sounds like an action has already been started. If not, as the other attorneys have mentioned you need to check the statute of limitations immediately because if you miss the deadline, your mother's injuries won't matter as it will be too late to file a lawsuit. Assuming that isn't the problem, you should be aware that many, many cases do not settle until the moment before trial. Thus, all the machinations that lead up to trial must be endured. Although it is usually the job of the plaintiff's attorney to move the case, there can be valid trial strategies on both sides that call for prolonging delays whenever possible. This can be frustrating, but it isn't always a bad thing. The fact that your mom is on her "3rd attorney" is the most concerning. Plaintiff's attorneys usually keep an iron grip on their cases and only let go when they've decided it isn't "worth it" to proceed. If that has happened here, you want to find out if that decision is because of the facts or the personalities in the case. If it is the former, there's not much you can do to improve the situation, and it may just be a losing case. On the other hand, if you mother is making the case more difficult by not cooperating with her attorneys, or whatever, then perhaps she needs to reassess her goals--she won't get much from a case nobody wants to work on, no matter how severe her injuries. Good luck!

    IMPORTANT LEGAL NOTICE: Ms. Brown’s response to the question above is not legal advice and it does not create an... more
  2. Daniel Adam Hochheiser

    Contributor Level 12

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    Lawyer agrees

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    Answered . To prove the store's negligence it must be established that the store knew or should have known of the wet floor and failed to do anything about it. Sometimes these cases can be proved by the store's video surveillance footage which sometimes shows store employees creating the wet floor problem or walking by the problem without cleaning it up. Have you asked the 3rd attorney how they can prove the store's negligence? Is there a video? Is there deposition testimony that can help prove the store's negligence?

    This communication does not constitute legal advice and is provided for informational purposes only as I am not... more
  3. Eric Edward Rothstein

    Contributor Level 20

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    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . The store doesn't have to prove anything because your mother has the burden of proof as she is the one suing. Your mother needs to prove the store either created the dangerous condition or had actual or contructive notice of it. These can be hard cases. Sometimes there is a witness who can say they saw the spill on the floor X minutes before the person fell. Or surveillance can sometimes show the spill and how long it was there fore. This is what discovery is all about.

    I am a former federal and State prosecutor and now handle criminal defense and personal injury/civil rights cases.... more
  4. Christian K. Lassen II

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    Contributor Level 20

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    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . Make sure that it is not too late to bring the lawsuit, as there are time deadlines known as statutes of limitations which must be adhered to. Search Avvo for a personal injury lawyer in your state and find out if you are within the time deadline, and if so, whether there may have been negligence.

    Click on name or picture to see profile page.

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