Fall down accidents almost always require legal assistance. An experienced fall down accident lawyer will be able to present the nuances of law and fact in the light most favorable to their clients. This can be tricky due to the fact that reasonable minds differ, especially when it comes to slip and fall or trip and fall accident cases.
Under slip and fall law in Pennsylvania, a homeowner may be held liable to a guest when the guest falls as a result of a dangerous condition which is known (or should be known) to the owner. However, what is considered “dangerous” can vary, precisely because reasonable minds may differ. A recent Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court case demonstrates this point.
Couto-Pressman v. Richards et al. is Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania case which was just decided last week. In the case, the homeowner/defendant was having a yard/garage sale. The plaintiff attended the yard sale and while on the property, slipped and fell, breaking her lower leg and ankle. Railroad ties had been placed along the curb of the property. The plaintiff slipped on wet grass and fractured her leg when her foot either fell into one of the gaps in between the railroad ties or came into contact with a tie.
The injuries required surgery and she was expected to have an additional surgery. Due to the injuries she was unable to return to work as a nurse except on a limited basis. She brought suit against the homeowner and the city of Allentown.
Slip and fall or trip and fall accident cases are highly fact intensive. The injured party bears the burden of proving what occurred and how the accident happened. From a legal perspective, the plaintiff must be able to show that the condition was dangerous, and in this case, the plaintiff was unable to show that the railroad ties or the gap in between them were inherently dangerous. This is why the court found in favor of the homeowner.
The plaintiff in the case was not completely sure that her foot got caught in between the railroad ties and testified that she slipped on wet grass and then her ankle hit the railroad tie. In other words, the railroad tie did not cause her to fall. The natural presumption then was that they were not inherently dangerous because they didn’t actually cause her to fall.
The court mentioned several times throughout the opinion that the plaintiff was not entirely sure that her foot was actually caught in one of the gaps. In other words, she was unable to prove that the railroad ties or the gaps in between them posed any danger.
Suggested reading: Pennsylvania Accident Law – A Homeowner’s Liability for a Guest’s Accident
This case underscores the importance of developing the facts of causation, i.e., what caused the accident and what occurred. In this case, the plaintiff was not certain how her foot came into contact with the condition at issue. In fall down accident cases, failing to explain the mechanism of injury often leads to defense verdicts or court rulings in favor of the defense.
- Water on the Floor – Pennsylvania Slip & Fall Accident Law
- Pain and Suffering Damages in a Pennsylvania Slip and Fall Lawsuit
Philadelphia Slip & Fall Accident Lawyers
Schwartz & Blackman has been representing the injured and their families for over thirty years in slip and fall accident cases. Our firm offers a free consultation for all Pennsylvania and New Jersey injury and accident victims. Call now and ask for your free consultation. 215.925.4451
Schwartz & Blackman handles fall down accident cases in the Pennsylvania and New Jersey area:
- PA: Berks County, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, Montgomery County, Philadelphia County, Allentown, Lehigh Valley, Norristown, Philadelphia
- NJ: Atlantic County, Burlington County, Camden County, Gloucester County, Mercer County, Middlesex County, Monmouth County, Camden, Cherry Hill, New Jersey shore cities
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