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Proving Notice of a Defect in Slip and Fall Cases Against Businesses

One of the keys to winning a slip or trip and fall case is showing that the defendant knew, or should have known, about the defect that made you fall. This can be difficult in cases against a business like a store or restaurant. This is because they often claim institutional ignorance of any prior defects. Oftentimes in slip or trip and fall cases against a business like a store or restaurant, the business will try to avoid responsibility by claiming they have no reports of prior injuries or complaints with a defect. There are several problems with this claim and several ways to rebut it.

Here are a few rebuttals we’ve used in our experience handling slip or trip and fall cases against businesses.

1. Slip and falls are under-reported at big-box retailers and manufacturers.

Slip or trip and falls are under-reported at businesses, especially at large corporations like big-box retailers or manufacturers. This is due to several things.

One, employees of these corporations are often rewarded for not having any such incidents. They pay their employees a bonus for not reporting injuries. This motivates employees to hide slip or trip and falls.

Two, many of these retailers or manufacturers underpay their employees to the point that they don’t care about slip or trip and falls. They don’t get paid enough to deal with the trouble that comes with slip or trip and fall.

Finally, the corporate representatives who claim no prior slip or trip and falls seldom make the effort to find out about them. The communication is too poor at the corporate level for the higher-ups to even know about slip or trip and falls.

2. Ask all employees what they know about prior trip and falls.
One way we have successfully rebutted a corporations claim of no prior slip or trip and falls or notice of a defect is to obtain the names of all people employed by the defendant at the time of the incident. We then ask each of those employees, especially the entry-level employees, what they know about the defect or prior slip or trip and falls. The information we get from these employees is often vastly different than what the corporation claims. We use this to show that not only was there plenty of notice of a defect and prior incidents, but that there is a problem with communication.

3. Check out online reviews.
Another way we have combatted corporate claims of no defect or prior incidents is with online reviews. A person may not notify a store employee when they fall or see a defect, but they will gladly take to the internet to tell their story. In some cases, we have been able to identify these people and get them to testify about their incident and the defect. These witness’s stories must be carefully vetted, but if they are, their testimony can be a powerful rebuttal to a corporation’s claim that there’s no defect or prior incidents.

If you have been injured on a business’s property and have questions about proving they knew about the defect, please don’t hesitate to contact our firm. We’ve handled many such cases in the Kansas City area and would be happy to answer your questions.