Liability in Slip and Fall Cases in Virginia

If you think you may have a slip and fall case, one of the first things you likely considered was the issue of liability. But what is liability? What role does it play in a slip and fall case? And what kind of evidence is used to prove liability? Below, Virginia slip and fall lawyer Thomas Soldan answers questions about liability in Virginia slip and fall cases.

Is Liability the Most Important of a Virginia Slip and Fall Case?

There is a two-part analysis in every personal injury case in Virginia; not just a slip and fall case but every personal injury case.

First we talk about liability and then we talk about damages; we can’t have one without the other. If a person has been hurt, to talk about damage prior to talking about the liability is truly an example of putting the cart before the horse. The horse, meaning the liability, is the real driver of the case. I can’t present a strong case with only the horse, I need the cart as well, but typically I won’t examine damages at length until I’ve established some degree of liability.

Once I have dealt with liability, then I will get into more detail about damages, how the person was hurt, medical bills, future pains, and lost wages. Looking at the case in that order is not necessarily intuitive for the client in a personal injury slip and fall case. The injured party usually wants me, as the attorney, to know how injured they are, how their life has changed, to what degree they are hurt, and they want to know what their recovery looks like. I do need to know those things, but it’s important to find out as much information I can to establish liability before the potential damages.

What Evidence Is Used in Virginia Slip and Fall Cases?

When I’m looking at potential evidence in a slip and fall case, I’m looking for things that are recorded at the time of the fall; that’s the best evidence.

It is important in a case involving a slip and fall injury to talk to an attorney right away so that evidence can be preserved. That evidence is often in the form of video, and if the incident occurred at a private business, then the surveillance video might only preserved for a short period of time. Preserving any video information is always crucial. There may also be an incident report done by a manager or a store employee, or, if the fall occurs in the public sphere, there may be a police report.

Those types of reports, videos, and even pictures of the injured party are very helpful. If there are no pictures, I typically employ an investigator to examine the scene as thoroughly as possible and take accurate pictures of the scene as encountered by the potential client.

The next phase of evidence includes damages, medical bills, medical records, pictures of the injuries to the person’s body, and potential testimonies from workers, coworkers, friends, and relatives. All of that comes into play in the initial evidentiary stage. In a slip and fall case, it is crucial to preserve evidence that was present at the time of the time of the incident.