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Premises liability: Steps after a slip, trip, and fall accident

1. Get witnesses information:

  • A fact witness can help you establish that you slipped, tripped, or fell in the location alleged in your Summons and Complaint in a premises liability lawsuit. Testimony by a fact witness identifying the accident location can prevent a "blind accident" defense by the defendant.
  • A fact witness can also help establish the cause of your fall (example: whether you fell due to a pothole in a crosswalk or slipped on ice on outdoor stairs).
  • A notice witness may have information on the pothole (for example, the length of time it existed or if she observed the hole being repaired).

2. Take pictures of the broken concrete or ice:

  • Photographs help prove what the defect looked like on the day of your accident.
  • Ice clearly melts so it is important to snap a photo before it does.
  • Raised and uneven sidewalks tend to develop over long period of time (example: a tree root pushing up the sidewalk).
  • Helpful Tips:
    • Take measurements of the uneven or raised asphalt.
    • Take photos up close and from a distance to pinpoint your exact location of the incident.

3. Document the specific location of your fall:

  • Did you slip in front of a commercial building, store, house, or condo?
    • Make note of the exact address
  • What other identifying landmarks or objects are in the area?
    • Did you trip on a subway grating on the sidewalk?
    • Was water leaking from a gutter, store sign overhang, defective drain?
    • Did it occur in a public or private park?
    • Cross-streets of an intersection?

4. Request the 911 telephone call records and ambulance call records:

  • An ambulance call record typically documents the location where it picked up the injured plaintiff from.

5. Conduct a NYC Department of Transportation FOIL search (Freedom of Information Law request)

  • You can request information regarding potholes, defects, and work permits for street openings and repairs.
  • This helps establish prior written notice of the broken sidewalk or street defect.

6. Contact a personal injury attorney regarding the law on premises liability:

  • There are time limitations for putting certain entities, public offices, charitable organizations, and insurance companies on notice that you intend on bringing a lawsuit.
  • There are also time limitations for bringing a lawsuit.

This blog has been prepared for general information purposes only to allow you to learn more about the Law Offices of Ross & Hill, our services and attorneys. This information is not legal advice and shall not to be acted on as such.

Premises Liability: Evaluating Dangerous And Defective Sidewalks 

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