An Insider’s Guide to Maximizing Slip & Fall Settlements
Plaintiffs’ attorneys lose more than 40% of their slip and fall cases. Considering this statistic, it is no surprise that slip and fall cases are the most difficult to win. As a result, they are often shunned by plaintiffs’ counsel and undervalued by defendants and insurance carriers.
Failure to prove a causative link between the hazard and a negligent act of the defendant is the number one reason for the high number of losses in slip and fall cases. In this book, Charles Turnbow, attorney-engineering consultant on over 9,000 slip and fall cases, provides you with an organization system and the tools to efficiently develop persuasive slip and fall claims. He shows you how to prove the causation (and how to efficiently screen out cases lacking it) in his highly-respected tool book, Slip & Fall Practice.
- Analyzing the mechanics of the fall to identify the cause.
- The most common cases and what they must have to win.
- Documenting the dangerous condition and the negligence that caused it.
- Establishing the duty of care.
- Proving control of the premises.
- Establishing actual or constructive notice.
- Showing that the hazard caused the injury.
Charles Turnbow’s dual career as both engineer and attorney enables him to bring you dozens of insider tips that are pertinent from a legal standpoint. Even veteran personal injury specialists will benefit from his easily understandable technical evaluations and practice pointers, such as:
- Why building plans seldom reflect the “as built” condition of the stairway. Section 820.5
- Why many of the building code requirements are not subject to field inspection during construction. Section 850
- A great questioning technique that helps you establish duty and causation through the opposition’s expert. Section 450
- The not-so-obvious qualifications the defense expert should have, and how to highlight their absence. Section 543.3
- Eight items to check for in every inspection of the accident site. Section 770
- Why you should never have the plaintiff present during your site inspection. If the plaintiff has to be present, here’s what to do. Section 522.1
- How safety features and warning devices can actually increase the risk of an accident. Section 632
- The methods for measuring the coefficient of friction. Section 710
- How to construct a comprehensive settlement package that presents your case in its best light and provides a strong foundation for the demand. Section 1080
- Why special jury instructions can give you an advantage in the courtroom and how to get yours admitted. Examples help you draft them with minimal time and effort. Section 1141
- A simple three-question method that lets you take full advantage of your expert witness’ knowledge. Section 1250
- Why demonstrative evidence often backfires in the courtroom. If using visuals, here’s how to safeguard yourself. Section 1160
Each slip and fall case has its own set of hurdles you must overcome: obtaining evidence at the scene, finding independent witnesses, establishing how long the slipped-upon substance was on the floor, what to do when evidence disappears, and more. Slip & Fall Practice can help you over these hurdles. In the case of an apartment fall, Turnbow offers you this advice:
The defendant will likely deny actual notice of the condition, so you must establish constructive notice by showing:
- The defect would have been discovered by the defendant using ordinary care. Section 121.2
- The landlord’s failure to inspect or take reasonable precautions. Section 942.3
- Depositions pertaining to the condition of the premises immediately prior to and subsequent to the accident. Section 543
If conditions of the accident site have changed, you must:
- Determine the mechanics of the fall. A complete description of what happened will give a clear indication of the type of hazard, the activities of the pedestrian immediately prior to the accident, and the manner in which the plaintiff fell victim to the hazard. Section 411
- Discover if the changes to the premises were made specifically to correct a dangerous condition. Section 423
- Get the testimony from paramedics who maintain reports on the accident’s location and premise’s condition. Section 141.1
- Rule out the plaintiff’s shoes as a cause of the accident by measuring the tractive properties of the soles and heels. Section 143.1
The following will prove the landlord breached his duty of ordinary or reasonable care:
- Prior incidents or complaints about the stairway. Section 426
- Photographs. The handrails may have been replaced, but can rusting and staining of the stucco around the bolt holes be seen in the photographs? Section 144
- Statistics. Approximately 68% of accidents are caused by a defect in the stairway. Shouldn’t the landlord have inspected this area more often? Section 820.5
A violation of the Uniform Building Code may grant a negligence per se jury instruction. Be sure to answer these questions:
- Was there a variation in the height of risers between any two steps larger than the allowable 3/8”? Section 622.2
- Were the bricks of the steps aligned in neat rows? This makes the edges of individual steps hard to see and can cause a misstep. Section 632.2
- Most accidents occur at the top or bottom two or three stairs; were the handrails maintained in a secure manner at these areas? Section 850.5.2
- Were the rise and run of each step measured and checked by the building inspector? They’re usually not. Section 1292.3
Slip & Fall Practice is loaded with case evaluation strategies, illustrative fact patterns (with photos), discovery forms, expert witness checklists, case authorities, building code citations, model pleadings, trial preparation aids, and most important, time-saving and case-winning practice tips.
REVISION 17 HIGHLIGHTS
In the latest revision to his popular book, Mr. Turnbow updates, expands, and improves his collection of techniques and tools for working up and presenting slip and fall cases. The following sections have been modified or added:
Chapter 1, In the Beginning
• Introduction. §100
• Hazard. §112
• The Victim. §121.1
• The Accident. §121.2
Chapter 2, Premises Liability Law
• New Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). §212.4
• New Elder Abuse Statutes. §212.5
Chapter 6, Case Evaluation
• New Spoliation of Evidence. §620.2.1
• Status of Defendant. §630.4
Chapter 9, Production of Documents, Interrogatories and Inspection Demands
• New Spoliation of Evidence. §932
• New Independent Tort Actions. §932.1
• New Court Rendered Sanctions. §932.2
• New Adverse Inference. §932.3
Chapter 10, Selection and Use of Expert Witnesses
• New Jury Instructions Regarding Expert Testimony. §1012
Chapter 19, Falls in Residences
• New Falls From Windows. §1954
• New Duty. §1954.1
• New Duty to Maintain. §1954.2
• New Parental Responsibility. §1954.3
Chapter 23, Falls by the Elderly or Disabled
• New Neglect and Elder Abuse. §2311.7
• New Grab Rails. §2325.4
New Chapter 25, Falls in Hospitals and Health Care Facilities
• Types of Accidents. §2510, et seq.
• Class of Victims. §2520, et seq.
• Common Hazards. §2530, et seq.
• Prevention Programs. §2540, et seq.
• Issues of Law. §2550, et seq.
ABBREVIATED TABLE OF CONTENTS
Part One. Case Evaluation
Chapter 1. In the Beginning
Chapter 2. Premises Liability Law
Chapter 3. Building Codes
Chapter 4. Mechanics of Walking
Chapter 5. Measurements and Testing
Chapter 6. Case Evaluation
Part Two. Litigation
Chapter 7. Pleadings
Chapter 8. Depositions
Chapter 9. Production of Documents, Interrogatories and Inspection Demands
Chapter 10. Selection and Use of Expert Witnesses
Chapter 11. Determining Damages
Chapter 12. Defending a Slip and Fall Case
Chapter 13. Settlement and Arbitration
Chapter 14. Preparing Documents and Evidence for Trial
Chapter 15. The Trial
Part Three. Categories of Cases
Chapter 16. Workplace Falls
Chapter 17. Falls on Public Property
Chapter 18. Falls in Markets
Chapter 19. Falls in Residences
Chapter 20. Falls on Construction Sites
Chapter 21. Falls at Recreational Facilities
Chapter 22. Falls on Ice and Snow
Chapter 23. Falls by the Elderly or Disabled
Chapter 24. Playground Accidents
Chapter 25. Falls in Hospitals and Health Care Facilities
Table of Authorities
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Charles E. Turnbow is a practicing attorney and a professional safety engineer. Since he first testified as an expert in 1959, he has been retained on over 9,500 slip and fall cases along with over 2,500 cases involving product defects and general safety engineering principles. In his role as an expert witness and consultant, he evenly divides his practice between plaintiffs and defendants. He is a board certified forensic engineer, a Fellow of the American College of Forensic Examiners, and a member of the California State Bar, the American Bar Association, International Conference of Building Officials, American Society of Testing and Materials and other construction, engineering and scientific societies and associations.