Trip and fall accidents are always a bit tenuous to prove if an investigation is not done within a reasonable period of time from the accident. A good lawyer needs to utilize all resources to establish how an accident took place and who is at fault.
The first thing a client needs to do is take photographs of the defect as soon as possible. If the client is too badly injured, he or she should ask a friend or family member to go the location and take clear photographs.
Next, the client should contact an experienced trial lawyer. The lawyer will send an investigator to take his own photographs. Additionally, the investigator will canvass the area for potential witnesses to the accident (or witnesses who can testify as to the length of time that a defect has existed). Measurements will be taken to show the dimensions of the defect, as well as any erosion or condition of the area that would reflect the amount of time it has existed. The investigator should also look for public and private video surveillance cameras that may have captured the moment that the accident happened.
Additionally, the video cameras may show the length of time that the condition existed. For example, an icy condition may have existed for days before an accident which will help prove the issue of “notice.”
Sometimes a condition may have other physical attributes that could result in tangible evidence. For example, a gravelly condition may have left mud and tiny stones on the client’s clothing. Such evidence needs to be preserved for future use.
The City of New York needs to be notified in writing within 90 days of your intent to sue. If the City is responsible for the frontage (e.g., in front of a 1 or 2 family residence), then you must show that the defect was reported at least 30 days before the client’s trip and fall. Although the maps are outdated, a company called “Big Apple Pothole” maintained records of most sidewalk defects and reported the same to the City.
You should get to an attorney as soon as possible to address the above issues. You do not want to pass these deadlines and possibly allow evidence to change or dissipate after a fall has taken place. A good personal injury lawyer can expedite these matters and protect your interests.