It depends on whether the property owner did something wrong, and whether it’s your fault.
Here is what I look at when I decide whether it’s a case I want to take.
If you are the person who fell, my first question is whether it is your fault? Could you have avoided the fall by acting reasonably?
The second question is whether someone else is at fault.
If the answer to the first question is no, and the second question is yes, I usually take the case if the damages are substantial.
The legal analysis is a little more complicated, but amounts to the same thing.
Legally, the first test is whether the owner of the property did something wrong – in lawyer’s words, whether he violated a standard of care. Was the condition dangerous? Did he know about the condition in time to do anything about it, but fail to act? The bottom line… did he know the property was unsafe.
The old cases were about banana peels. If you slipped on a yellow banana peel, your lawsuit was thrown out – the peel had not been around long enough for the property owner to know it was there, and remove it. If the peel was black, obviously the owner had time to detect it and pick it up, and the court would let the case go to the jury.
The second legal test is whether you “assumed the risk” or were “comparatively negligent”; that is, was your fault greater than the property owners?
If the owner did something wrong, you are entitled to have the jury weigh your fault. Your damages will be reduced by the percentage the jury says you are at fault; and if you are more than 50 percent at fault, you won’t get anything.
We all know “You have to watch where you’re going”, and that will be the first thing a juror thinks when he hears about your case. You don’t have to constantly stare at the path in front of you; but you have to have a very good reason for not seeing what caused your fall.
Here are some cases I have taken that paid off pretty well:
• An elderly gentleman who was running between cars in a parking lot in the rain as he left the racetrack, when he tripped on a boundary wire the same color as the concrete. He couldn’t see it, and other boundaries were marked by brightly colored plastic chains.
• A plus sized model who was asked to jog in place on a three foot square platform by the photographer she was working for. She fell off the platform, which did not have the borders marked.
• A hairdresser who was dancing on a black box in a club in Over The Rhine when she fell off. The floor was also black, and it was dark.
• A 64 year old woman who slipped in slime which had formed on a public sidewalk because the adjoining property owner failed to correct a drainage problem it controlled.
• A young man who was bumped off an elevated platform in a club onto a decorative statue.
• An 88-year old man who was knocked over by an automatic door as he left his dialysis clinic, breaking his hip.
I have been a lawyer over 30 years. When you’re harmed by someone else’s fault, you deserve to be paid for your pain, suffering and the money you lose. If you have questions about your lawsuit, talk with an experienced Cincinnati attorney about the case. Call me, William Strubbe, at 513-621-4775.
Because all situations are different, and because there may be other facts pertaining to your case that I don’t know about, you should not rely on this answer for legal advice. I am not your attorney, and no lawyer client relationship has been formed.