Slip, Trip & Fall Injury Lawyer discussed how a popular television show helps illustrate premises liability legal concepts
The above clip from Orange is the New Black illustrates some of the elements of a typical slip and fall injury case in New York courts. To prevail on a slip or trip and fall accident matter, a plaintiff must prove notice. Notice means that the defendant knew or should have known about the dangerous condition (e.g. puddle, hole, raised sidewalk flag) that caused the plaintiff to fall down. Notice can be proven in three ways:
Actual notice: meaning someone actually notified or told the defendant about the hazardous condition. For example, a tenant of an apartment building complained to the superintendent about a crack in in the tread of a marble step in the lobby. The super did not get around to repairing the crack and then someone else trips and falls over it. If the tenant who complained has a letter predating the accident or testifies that he or she verbally complained and a jury believes this testimony, then the plaintiff has established actual notice. Or as in the video above, if someone had complained to Crazy Eyes about the puddle she would be on actual notice.
Constructive notice: meaning the defendant using reasonable or ordinary care should have found the dangerous condition and fixed it. Usually all the plaintiff needs to prove is that the dangerous condition existed for a substantial period of time sufficient for the defendant to have time to find it and fix it. For example, a lady falls on a puddle inside a supermarket. Someone standing on the checkout line says “Hey, I saw that puddle when I started shopping 45 minutes ago.” If the plaintiff can use this notice witness to testify the puddle existed 45 minutes ago, she can argue that the store employees using reasonable care should have found and cleaned up this puddle. Their failure to clean up the puddle in 45 minutes of time is negligence.
A third way of proving notice is known as the caused & created theory. If the defendant caused and created the dangerous condition that causes plaintiff to fall then the defendant is liable. The plaintiff does not have to prove any other notice since defendant actually created the condition. For example, if a janitor is mopping the floor and someone slips on a puddle he created while actively mopping, the janitor has caused & created the dangerous condition. The video also demonstrates that Crazy Eyes caused and created the slippery condition by machine washing the floor.
The video also addresses warning signs such as cones or wet floor caution signs. The placement of such signs would alert pedestrians to a potential danger. If the area being mopped is roped off or barricaded in another manner, this would prevent individuals from walking in the potentially dangerous and wet area. Warnings also impart the same notice the defendant who is actively mopping knows to members of the public walking in the vicinity. As such, the failure to place warnings signs or barricades would definitely help a plaintiff whereby proving they were placed would help the defendants.
Slip or Trip and Fall cases in New York courts often deal with notice especially in depositions and summary judgment motions. If you or someone you know has a premises liability case such as a slip, trip or fall case, please contact the law firm of Frekhtman & Associates for a consultation at (212) 222 – 11111.