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Lombardi Law Firm

Just falling isn't enough to make the landlord liable

Steve Lombardi
Iowa personal injury, workers' compensation, motorcycle, quadriplegic, paraplegic, brain injury, death

Blog Category:
12/11/2012
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Dublin, IrelandQuestion: Considering the fact that I broke my FEMUR in three places, why won't a local lawyer take my case?
Question Detail: I fell off the top steps at a local coffee house. The steps are bowed (it's an old building) and the risers and platforms are uneven. How do I prove liability? It seems to me that it is a no brainer. I am the only support for my autistic son.

Answer: It may have to do with the open and obvious nature of the bowed step or the number of times you've walked on that step. I don't know because I don't' know the local attorneys, but their reasons may have to do with the attorney not understanding slip/trip/fall cases or what made you fall. Look for another attorney who understands rises, runs, dampness issues, handrail heights, city code requirements, slipperiness of the step surface and other dynamics that make slip/fall cases interesting to litigate. Or ask the attorneys who’ve turned the case down as to why they did.

For there to be any liability on the part of the landowner there must be a defect in the property. That’s the first hurdle. The second is either you didn’t know the defect existed or you did but there was a good reason why you didn’t pay enough attention to it on this one occasion. That’s the open and obvious rule along with knowledge of the defective condition. The law does not allow people to be compensated for getting hurt by means that are open, obvious and one’s for which they knew were there but did nothing to protect themselves. Everyone in society has an obligation and must take responsibility for the world not being perfect. These are, as I’m sure you are beginning to realize, not easy cases to win.

Of course what you assume made you fall may not be the actual cause. The actual cause may be more apparent if you tripped and fell or if you slipped and fell. Those are two very different cases because the causes can be very different. The issues of rises, runs, slipperiness, dampness, handrail heights, etc are important to evaluate after it’s determine whether you tripped or slipped. These are the scientific, mathematical, architectural and human factor engineering aspects of your case.

Now let’s talk about your autistic son, his condition doesn’t add or subtract to the liability aspects of the case and if the lawyers can’t get by the liability issues, they will not take the case.

So answer these questions about the step and then understand what made you fall and there may lie the answer to your question.



Category: Property & Real Estate Injuries


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