SLIPS, TRIPS & FALLS

“Did you fall at your place or somebody else’s”?

This line from “My Cousin Vinny” is sure to bring chuckles every time it is uttered. Vincent LaGuardia Gambini, a fictional character played by Joe Pesci in the hit movie asks an obviously injured man in a neck brace if the fall that caused his injury occurred at his place, “or somebody else’s”? If you have not seen the movie, watch it. It is very funny and filled with memorable one liners such as this.  But what is it doing in my Blog? My practice for more than 30 years has included personal injury law. I have represented those injured through the negligent, careless or intentional conduct of others, including hundreds of cases involving injuries as a result of slips, trips and falls. When a personal injury results from a fall on premises owned or under the control of another person or entity, the location and circumstances of the injury are important in determining if there is a right of action to recover damages for those injuries.

The location of where the injury occurs is particularly important to determine if any special requirements of notice are applicable. For instance, in Connecticut if an injury occurs on a public street or sidewalk, special notice rules apply in order to pursue the claim against the municipality responsible for maintaining the roadway or sidewalk, or the state if on a state highway. The notice requirement is incorporated in state statutes that provide that the injured person must give notice of the specific defect causing the injury, including the exact location, within 90 days of the incident. The failure to give notice will result in the dismissal of any lawsuit that might follow.

Unlike the notice requirements for certain public locations, injuries from falls at premises owned by private persons or entities can be pursued by filing a lawsuit within two years from the date of injury. The law requires the owner of premises to take reasonable steps to maintain their property free from defects and safe for persons who are lawfully on the premises. Some common defects which can lead to injuries might include accumulation of ice and snow which is left for unreasonable periods of time; potholes in parking lots; crumbling or damaged walkways or steps; protruding or discarded items on the floors of shopping areas; merchandise left scattered about; and many other similar defects. If the owner of the premises knew, or reasonably should have known about the condition and failed to take steps to remedy the defect, a slip, trip or fall causing injuries from the defect can lead to a recovery of damages for those injuries.

If you or a loved one has suffered injuries as a result of a slip, trip or fall, it is important to seek out the advice of an attorney experienced in such claims in order to quickly investigate the claim, secure any available evidence and witness statement, and assist with the claim process against the insurer for the property owner.

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