The notion of ‘premises liability’ cases generally include slip, trip, and fall accidents. These cases commonly involve injuries sustained because of the owner or custodian’s negligent maintenance of the property in question. Even though these falls may not seem serious, they can have devastating and life changing effects on the innocent victim. Injuries that can result from a slip and fall accident include the following: broken bones, bruises and lacerations, severe knee injuries, spinal and head injuries, as well as many other kinds depending on the nature and circumstances of the fall.
Premises liability cases are difficult because many elements need to be proven in each case, and these elements change depending on the location of the accident. There are different legal standards that apply for merchants, publicly owned property, and non-merchant privately owned property. Due to the complicated nature of these cases, an experienced law firm is needed. The Cardone Law Firm is here to support you. Cliff Cardone has over 40 years of experience handling all different types of personal injury cases. Since 1997, Cliff has sat as a Judge, Ad Hoc, in Juvenile Court, Traffic Court, as well as Municipal Court in New Orleans. As such, he has a broad range of experience and is fully capable of handling a variety of legal cases.
To be successful, a key requisite is to know what legal standard will apply in your case. The Merchant Liability Statute, codified in La. RS 9:2800.6, establishes the burden of proof against merchants. A merchant, defined in the statute, is one whose business is to sell goods, foods, wares, or merchandise at a fixed place of business. A merchant includes an innkeeper with respect to those areas or aspects of the premises which are similar to those of a merchant, including but not limited to shops, restaurants, and lobby areas of or within the hotel, motel, or inn. To win a case against a merchant, the victim will need to prove by the preponderance of the evidence the following elements:
(1) The condition presented an unreasonable risk of harm to the claimant and that risk of harm was reasonably foreseeable;
(2) The merchant either created or had actual or constructive notice of the condition which caused the damage, prior to the occurrence; and
(3) The merchant failed to exercise reasonable care.
"Constructive notice" means the claimant has proven that the condition existed for such a period of time that it would have been discovered if the merchant had exercised reasonable care. The presence of an employee of the merchant in the vicinity in which the condition exists does not, alone, constitute constructive notice, unless it is shown that the employee knew, or in the exercise of reasonable care should have known, of the condition. The three elements of the Merchant Liability Statute each have their own extensive case law. The facts and circumstances for each accident are different, and there is no bright line rule that will apply for each case. The victim needs a law firm who has experience handling these complicated legal issues that certainly will arise. The Cardone Law Firm also has the essential resources to accomplish the legal research that is required in each unique case. The Merchant Liability Statute requires a stringent burden of proof compared to other property owners. Due to the higher standard, courts often dismiss these cases on summary judgments. This is another reason why it is crucial to have the Cardone Law Firm here to support you throughout this process.
Many trip and fall accidents also occur on public sidewalks, and this is important to note as a different legal standard will apply in these cases. Falls consistently occur here because of broken and torn up cement, gaps in the walkway, or deviations that cause tripping hazards. Under Louisiana Revised Statute 9:2800, the victim needs to prove the following elements:
1. The city had custody or ownership of the defective thing;
2. The defective thing created an unreasonable risk of harm;
3. The city had actual or constructive notice of the defective thing;
4. The city failed to act to correct the defective thing in a reasonable time; and
5. The defective thing caused the damages.
Failure to meet any one of the elements will defeat a claim against the public entity. A skilled attorney is needed in this setting to prove all the elements and traverse the complicated legal field. Also, in most trip and fall cases, the victim will be assessed a portion of the fault. Louisiana law imposes a duty to pedestrians, and the breach of this duty will cause the victim to be awarded less. Case law consistently refers to the duty as the following, “A pedestrian has a duty to see that which should have been seen. He is not required to look for hidden dangers, but he is bound to observe his course in order to see if his pathway is clear. A pedestrian is held to have seen those obstructions in his pathway which would be discovered by a reasonably prudent person exercising ordinary care under the circumstances. However, pedestrians cannot be expected to constantly look down while walking on a busy street. A pedestrian is not required to constantly observe the surface of the walkway or to “exercise the care that would be necessary in traversing a jungle.” An experienced attorney is needed here to represent you in order to lower the appointed fault and to receive the highest award possible.
As shown, premises liability cases are tricky and can result in difficult legal procedures. To protect against more difficult issues in the future, victims should consider the following checklist:
I) Take pictures of the walkway where the trip occurred;
II) Document the scene of the accident, including the type of shoes that were worn at the time of the slip, and if there were any witnesses;
III) If there were witnesses, take down any contact information i.e. name, phone number, address, and statements;
IV) The victim should also document the weather and light conditions, and any other variances that contributed to the accident.
Mr. Cardone understands that when a person is looking for an attorney they are looking for someone to guide them through the legal process and, at the same time, avoid the pitfalls that surely come about. That is why he has dedicated his career fighting for injured people and their struggles securing the best possible financial recovery. Personal injury cases can leave a victim physically, emotionally, and financially destroyed. Phone Cardone at 504-522-3333 as quickly as possible or you can fill out our online contact form to receive quick feedback from Mr. Cardone or from one of his professional legal assistants concerning your case.
The Cardone Law Firm provides legal services for all of Louisiana including Ascension Parish, Donaldsonville, Assumption Parish, Napoleonville, Baton Rouge, Jefferson Parish, Estelle, Gretna, Harvey, Kenner, Marrero, Metairie, New Orleans, Terrytown, Westwego, Lafayette Parish, Lafourche Parish, Thibodaux, Livingston Parish, Orleans Parish, Plaquemines Parish, Belle Chasse, and St. Charles Parish.