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Collecting Witness Statements in Slip and Fall Cases

If you’ve been injured due to the negligence of a business owner, then you’ll likely be asking yourself dozens of questions. The most important of these is what you should do next. No matter what you intend to do following an injury, you should contact a personal injury attorney. They will be able to help you make an informed decision about whether or not you’re entitled to compensation and they can help you in taking the first steps to make a personal injury lawsuit.

The following contains the first vital steps in making a successful argument, as well as details to help you understand each step. These most important steps are centered around finding witnesses and collecting witness statements for your personal injury lawsuit.

What are Witnesses and Witness Statements, and Why are They Important?

In any legal case, witnesses and witness statements can make or break the entire case. Witnesses provide another point of view on the case, whether it be to support or deny the claim made by those that have called them in as a witness. They describe what they saw and observed before, during, and after the incident, or in some cases simply provide background and professional information. This can be medical information, or it can be general information, provided by experts, about the location and the objects involved depending on the case.

These can be vital to any case as the information divulged can prove that the accusations are true or false. No matter what kind of witness, almost all court cases need some kind to provide an alternate point of view or additional information that a jury won’t have any previous experience in. So, if a case involves cars and a failure in their safety features, it’s important to have an expert in what those features should do as well as one that has observed how they failed. In slip and fall cases it’s important to have a medical expert that can pinpoint how the fall caused the injury sustained, as well as some kind of flooring expert to help drive home how the building’s floors may be even more susceptible to slips and falls than others due to the material that’s used.

What are Slip and Fall Cases?

Slip and fall cases are fairly self-explanatory. They are legal cases in which someone has slipped and fallen inside of a place of business and sues the owner of the business. This personal injury lawsuit is normally made to cover the medical bills of the person or persons who sustained the slip and fall injury. These cases are normally determined by deciding who is at fault for slip and fall. If the business owner did not provide any form of warning and it is determined that the fall was ultimately caused by their negligence, then they will eventually pay an allotted amount to whoever sustained the slip and fall injury. If the opposite is determined and the individual who took the fall is at fault, then the charges are normally dropped, and everyone moves on with their lives.

Different Kinds of Witnesses

Every legal case has different kinds of witnesses that provide different points of view and different information that can be vital to the case. Specifically, in Slip and Fall cases, you’ll want at least three kinds of witnesses.

The first is any kind of eyewitness. Typically, this is anyone who witnessed what happened first-hand. These people will be useful in determining why your slip or trip may have happened. They may not be able to provide expert advice, but they can usually describe in detail what happened which offers the jury another valuable voice that tells the same story as yours. However, in some cases, there is no one around to have watched you fall. So, you’ll want to find the next best thing, including others who witness the conditions that caused your fall, either before or after. Or someone who witnessed your own condition before and/or after your fall. This can include first responders if your case calls for it.

The next kind of witness is a medical expert. Once again if your case calls for it, this can include first responders, although most Slip and Fall cases do not warrant them. Typically, your best bet for a medical expert will be your primary care doctor, physician, or specialist. These individuals can provide detailed testimonies or written evidence that pertains to the injury that has been sustained. This can include how it was sustained, as well as how it will affect your life in the future. These forms of evidence can be essential when determining how much compensation you are entitled to.

The final type of witness you may need in your case is a property expert. This can include builders, property experts, and contractors who can all offer different forms of evidence in favor of your case. Inspectors can easily determine if the conditions that caused your injury, whether damaged stairs you fell down or a wet floor, were up to code. Contractors and builders can determine exactly what the cause of the condition was, perhaps a leaky pipe that was never fixed or a crack in the step that finally gave way. Contractors especially are helpful if you want to make the argument that the fix was easily avoidable and back-up an argument that your injury was caused by the building owner’s negligence.

Obtaining Witnesses and Their Statements

Normally you will want to go through your attorney when collecting witness statements and witnesses to testify. Unfortunately, this is not possible if you want to collect statements as soon as the incident takes place as this is the best time since it is clearly fresh in their minds. In this case, you’ll want to go about asking for statements as carefully as you can. Avoid injecting your own opinion into their statement and pushing your experience onto them. This will make their statement less admissible in court.

Once you contact a personal injury attorney, they will help you collect statements and witnesses whether you have them already or not. No matter what, it is important to contact an attorney as soon as you can if you intend to sue. This will allow the attorney time to find eyewitnesses as soon as possible after the incident while they are still able to recall what happened.

Avoid harassing any witnesses that you do obtain. Try your best to get their contact information if absolutely nothing else, but do not contact them frequently. Pass the information on to your attorney and allow them to handle the follow-up. Pestering eyewitnesses can cause them to become irritated, biased, and uncompliant with you and your attorney. This is the absolute last thing you want from an eyewitness, especially if you do not have very many.

When collecting professional witnesses, be sure you find the best you possibly can. Talk to your doctor and have them walk you through what your injury will mean for your future. Speak to your employer if you are unable to work and have them provide evidence of lost payment. Leave looking for property experts to your attorney and allow them to find the best available as soon as possible to take a look at the property and the conditions that caused your injury.

How Witnesses and Witness Statements can Play into Your Case

Witness statements specifically can be incredibly important in your case in many ways. If your court date takes place long after the incident and your witness can testify in-person, their statements can help jog their memories on what exactly they witnessed. If your witness cannot testify in-person for some reason, then their statement will take their place and still be able to help in your case. No matter what, a witness’s statement is often as important, if not more so, than their testimony. Since each witness may undergo a process of deposition. In which a witness is questioned by attorneys on both sides of the argument.

Professional witnesses also play a key role in personal injury cases, as previously discussed. A doctor’s written evidence or in-person testimony can provide the court with a background of the injury. This does not have to only be on its effect on you, but its cause as well. If your overall injury comes into question, then a qualified doctor can determine if the event did in fact cause the injury or not.

If your injury puts you out of work temporarily or even permanently, your current or former employer can provide several details. Depending on your case, they can help provide evidence of why you cannot perform your duties, or if you have only been put out of work temporarily they can provide the pay that you lost in that time and can be entitled to.

A property expert of any kind can provide numerous forms of evidence. They can explain what caused the condition that led to your injury, as well as determine if it was accidental or intentional negligence that caused your injury.

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The information contained in this website is provided for informational purposes only.  This website may contain information about The Injury Firm's past results, testimonials about the firm or a lawyer within the firm, and statements regarding the quality of The Injury Firm's work product. This information has not been reviewed or approved by The Florida Bar. Please be advised that: 1) the facts and circumstances of your case may differ from the matters for which results and testimonials have been provided: 2) Not all results of cases handled by the firm or its lawyers are provided and not all clients have given testimonials; and 3) The results and testimonials provided are not necessarily representative of results obtained by the firm or by its lawyers or of the experience of all clients or others within the firm or its lawyers. Every case is different, and each client’s case must be evaluated and handled on its own merits.

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