There are many factors that determine if an individual has a “case.” The mere happening of an accident does not automatically entitle someone to receive compensation. In the case of a slip and fall, the injured party must prove certain facts in order to prevail in a lawsuit. For instance, the injured party, often called the claimant or plaintiff, must prove that the defendant either knew or should have known that their property contained a dangerous defect that could cause injury to an individual. The plaintiff must then prove that the defendant had a duty to both discover and warn of this dangerous condition or remedy this dangerous condition and failed to fulfil its duty. The plaintiff must prove that defendant’s failure to discovery and warn or remedy this condition caused plaintiff to suffer injuries.
Often, to prove these facts, experts need to be hired to review evidence and supply expert opinions for trial. Based on the complexity of the law and perhaps the business of the defendant, a thorough investigation must be done.
In addition to determining if the defendant caused the accident, the plaintiff or claimant must prove an injury. The injury can be physical or economic in nature. In order to prove a physical injury, the plaintiff or claimant must provide evidence of the injury through a medical expert.
Because of the intricacies of the law, the importance of the legal status of the defendant (commercial defendant, government entity, residential property owner), and often the need for a full evaluation from experts, it is generally difficult to know whether you have a case or not. Some types of accidents are very easy to analyze and a determination as to whether there is a strong case or not can be made immediately. For instance, a fall in front of a commercial business premises over a broken or uneven public sidewalk resulting in a fracture generally is a “good” case. This is because commercial businesses owe a duty to those using their sidewalks. Additionally, sidewalks generally do not become uneven overnight. The process is one that takes substantial time. Thus, a convincing argument can be made that the business either knew or should have known of the defect or dangerous condition on their property. Furthermore, a fracture is an injury that is difficult to dispute.