Each year thousands of people are victims of injuries due to the failure of property owners to maintain a safe premises. The problem that often arises in slip and falls cases is that the victim does not always recall what caused him or her to slip as the moments after the injury are often directed towards, and rightfully so, his/her injuries. This presents problems as the negligent property owner often doesn’t document or outright conceals the reason for the slip and fall. With cell phone technology, the injury victim or the person with the victim should record video and take photographs of the area of the slip and fall. This will help preserve the evidence and protect the injury victim from the defendant’s claim that the victim tripped as a result of her own negligence. If it is not possible to obtain video or photographic evidence immediately at the time of the incident, it is strongly suggested that the victim or someone on his or her behalf return to the location to take video and/or photographic evidence as soon as possible. Alternatively, the victim should demand at the time of the accident that the property owner take video and photographic evidence in order to preserve the scene.
As an alternative avenue, many stores and businesses such as supermarkets, garages, department stores, office buildings, restaurants, bars, pubs, gyms, hair salons, car dealerships, grocery stores, etc. contain video surveillance systems which would help establish what foreign substance was on the floor that caused the victim to slip and fall. These substances could include liquid, sand, ice, water, food, oil or other slippery substances. The store’s surveillance footage may also establish that other people slipped and fell on the same area prior to the victim’s injuries which would help establish a negligence on behalf of the property owner for failing to take steps to correct the defect. It is strongly recommended that the victim demand at the time of the slip and fall incident that the property owner preserve and keep the surveillance video and then follow up in writing, preferably by regular mail and certified mail return receipt requested in order to preserve the video recording. Most stores will destroy videotapes/video recordings after a certain time period. If notice is given to preserve the videotape and the store does not, this may result in an additional claim for destroying evidence.
If you have any questions regarding slip and fall accidents, please contact an attorney at Hamblett & Kerrigan.
Kevin P. Rauseo is a former director at Hamblett & Kerrigan P.A. and has since been appointed as a Justice for the New Hampshire Circuit Court. Please feel free to contact another attorney at Hamblett & Kerrigan to discuss your legal issues.