Premises liability refers to negligence in connection with the ownership, management, or control of property. In order to prevail in a premises liability case, it must be shown that a dangerous condition on the premises caused the injury and that one of the following is true:
- The person in control of the property (usually the owner) created the dangerous condition on the premises; or
- The person in control of the property knew or should have known about the dangerous condition on the premises but did not correct it.
The Importance of Photographs and Video
Taking photographs of the condition which caused the fall as soon as possible is very important. The dangerous nature of a condition is frequently evident from a photograph of it. Property owners will often immediately fix something that has caused someone to fall so that others do not get hurt. While fixing the condition is appropriate, the property owner will frequently not take photos of the condition before it is fixed. If the condition is fixed before any photos are taken, this can pose a serious problem in showing that a dangerous condition existed. Photos should be taken as soon as possible.
A fall should also be reported to the property owner/manager as soon as possible so that the owner will conduct its own investigation into the incident and fill out incident reports, etc. These reports may identify employees who were responsible for the area of the fall and may also identify any foreign substance which was on the floor and how it got there. Reporting the fall immediately also allows any surveillance video which may have recorded the fall to be isolated and preserved. Such video can be very helpful in showing what caused the fall and how the fall took place. Most business establishments use surveillance video within and outside of their premises. A report of the fall should be followed by a demand to retain any video showing the fall and the 60 minutes prior to the fall in order to establish events leading up to the fall. There is no law on how long video must be retained. It is usually “overwritten” within two to four weeks, maybe sooner. A demand for preservation of the video should be made as soon as possible. We will do this for you. Or, you may use this form which can fill out on your computer and hand deliver it to the store manager: DEMAND TO RETAIN VIDEO EVIDENCE
After learning of a fall, the insurance company for the property owner will usually contact the injured person to obtain a recorded statement by telephone. The goal of an insurance company in taking a recorded statement is to obtain information that will help to defend against your claim. The questions asked during the recorded statement focus on the critical issues in the case. An insurance company is well aware of what these issues are. One should not give a recorded statement to an insurance company without a full understanding what the issues in the case are. Absent understanding the issues, the injured person is at risk of misunderstanding the question, or the importance of a question, and providing a response that is unfocused, vague, or mistaken. For this reason it is important to consult with an attorney before giving a recorded statement.
There are many other issues that arise in fall cases. There are different ways to prove that a condition is unreasonably dangerous, such as by showing that the condition violates a statute or regulation. Examples include building code provisions relating to the condition at issue or the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Contact a determined Vista personal injury attorney
Call Hansen Law at 760-295-4888 or contact me online to schedule your consultation at my Vista office. We represent people throughout Oceanside, Vista, Carlsbad, San Marcos, and Escondido.