This is the next post in our series on handling slip and fall cases in Rochester, Minnesota. Our last article discussed how comparative fault applies to premises liability cases. To recap, a victim may be able to recover damages if he was less responsible for his fall than the property owner. Every case is situation specific, however. No two matters are the same. That’s why it’s strongly recommended that you consult with a personal injury attorney to determine whether or not you have a viable claim. In this article, we discuss the steps counsel must take to prove liability in slip and fall cases. If you require assistance, contact our office today to speak with an attorney.
A fall victim’s lawyer can gather evidence of a defendant’s liability through the discovery process. We previously discussed the use of discovery in truck accident cases. The same concepts apply to a slip and fall. A victim may use requests for production to gain records and documents (such as maintenance records for the building in which the incident occurred). Interrogatories can be used to require defendant(s) to answer written questions (such as those related to identifying witnesses and describing company procedures), while depositions can be used to interview witnesses in the presence of a court reporter. There are additional tools that a plaintiff’s lawyer can use to gather relevant evidence, such as determining whether a company conducted an investigation into the incident.
The use of discovery in a premises liability case can best be explained through example. Say that store “Y” has a policy of sweeping its floors every 45 minutes and keeps a log recording each time the floor is swept. One day, the floor is not swept for several hours and debris accumulates. A victim who slips on the debris may have a claim for damages, but will need to show that the operator of the store did not follow its own protocol to take reasonable steps to keep its facility safe. Interrogatories can be used to require the operator to identify all its procedures that are meant to keep the facility safe. The sweeping policy is an example of one such procedure. Once a plaintiff’s attorney receives answers to his/her interrogatories, he or she can send a follow up set of document requests for the sweeping logs. If the logs show the store was lax in following its own schedule for sweeping, they can serve as valuable evidence to the plaintiff.
The process of gathering evidence in a premises liability case can be complicated. A plaintiff’s attorney must be familiar with the rules of civil procedure in order to properly utilize the discovery process. We strongly recommend you retain a firm with experience in such matters. Our firm has recovered more than $1 million in premises liability claims. We are ready to assist you. Contact us today to speak with a Rochester slip and fall lawyer.
Besides Rochester, we serve the following major southeast Minnesota cities: Red Wing, Winona, Mankato, Austin, Albert Lea, and Owatonna, and all outlying communities, as well as the cities of Minneapolis, St. Paul, Duluth, and Bloomington. We also serve the Iowa cities of Mason City, Charles City, Osage, Spencer, Garner, Forest City, and Northwood and the Wisconsin cities of La Crosse, Onalaska, Sparta, Viroqua, River Falls, Ellsworth, Whitehall, and Black River Falls.