Right after you trip and fall think about what made you trip
There are times when as a personal injury lawyer who does a lot of car, truck, motorcycle accidents along with workers' compensation claims I am completely baffled. This week I got a call from an out-of-state resident who visited Iowa and was injured at a hotel. The matter was a trip-fall type of claim. We lawyers refer to them as premise liability cases. Premise liability is a difficult case to prove, you really need an artificial defect in the property to win these cases. By artificial defect I mean something created by the owner, the lessee, the business that increased the risk of injury. So, a snowy or icy condition in Iowa during the month of January isn't in and of itself going to get anyone excited about your case. On the other hand if the shop owner has allowed snow and ice to accumulate for a week without walking outside and shoveling it, that might get someone interested in your case.
On the other hand twenty minutes into the snow storm, you fall, it's a loser.
Have the building owner drain melting snow and ice across the walk to the entranceway door and you are now talking too about an artificial condition that increases the risk of injury to store patrons. That's a winner, but the 20" into the snow storm case isn't. You get my drift.
So when a potential client phones a lawyer saying they tripped on something, fell and injured themselves, but has no photographs of the condition and frankly have no clue about why they tripped - that case is going nowhere fast. It won't end up on my docket. That's not a case we can take and it's certainly not a case you can win.
Before you call the lawyer ask yourself this question: What did I trip or slip on and is it an artificial condition that increased the risk of injury?
And one more thing, don't believe for a second that your case won't be characterized by the insurance adjuster and the business owner as frivolous. Because it will be. There seems to be a huge disconnect between our clients thinking somehow the laws they voted for won't be used against them. Trust me you're no different than the guy you characterized as having a frivolous lawsuit. So don't assume for a second that you will be treated differently than other people - in this there is a huge disconnect.
So this week's call had this as a part of the discussion. I asked what made the woman fall and he said, "What difference should it make what made her fall?"
This is our challenge - how do you argue the Golden Rule, without arguing it? Or how do we change the Supreme Courts mind about being able to argue the Golden Rule? You are all part of the McDonald's Coffee Case Syndrome. Get used to it. Now can I Supersize that lawsuit sir?