Slip Fall

Altering the Theory of Your New York Slip-and-Fall Lawsuit — What Does It Mean for Your Case?

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    gavelWhen you initiate a lawsuit seeking damages, the defendant in your case is obviously going to defend itself zealously; in other words, it is going to do everything within the rules to undermine your case. In the slip-and-fall case of a woman who fell on a ramp, the defendant tried to use the plaintiff’s “clarification” of her accident as a basis for getting the case thrown out of court. The courts, however, did not accept this argument and instead allowed the injured woman to go forward with her case.

    In her original filing related to her accident, a woman injured in the lobby of a New York City Housing Authority building in Brooklyn stated that she slipped and fell while walking down a ramp “due to water flooding and/or leaking.” Five months later, the injured woman gave testimony in which she clarified that she fell not because the ramp was wet but because the ramp wobbled or in some way moved when she stepped on it.

    The defendant in this case used the plaintiff’s clarification as an opportunity to try to secure a summary judgment in its favor. In a civil case, a defendant is only entitled to a summary judgment if there is no interpretation of the facts that would give the plaintiff a viable case under the claim that she raised. The specific thrust of the defendant’s argument was that the plaintiff’s case did not properly give it notice of the basis for the plaintiff’s case. In other words, the defense accused the plaintiff of unfairly changing the theory of the case.

    The courts did not agree, meaning that the plaintiff was allowed to go forward. In order to meet the law’s minimum standards for giving proper notice to a defendant, a plaintiff’s case must state the time, place, and manner of the accident, as well as the general “nature” of the plaintiff’s grounds for holding the defendant liable. Here, the plaintiff, although she modified her statements, still met this obligation. Her case clearly stated the time (January 5, 2012), the place (the lobby of the building at 2703 West 33rd Street), and the manner of the incident (slip and fall on a ramp). The fundamental basis of the case was that the ramp was defective, that this defective condition caused the plaintiff’s slip and fall, and that the defendant was legally responsible for the defect and liable for the woman’s damages.

    The plaintiff’s original filing stated that the ramp was defective, and that document led to an inspection of the ramp. The fact that the plaintiff clarified her position from falling on a wet ramp to falling on a wobbly ramp was not enough to mean that the defendant didn’t get fair notice and was not enough to allow the defendant to obtain a dismissal of this case.

    When you pursue a slip-and-fall case or another legal claim for damages, the other side will likely go to great lengths to try to defeat your claim. To ensure that your side is fairly represented, you need experienced counsel on your side. The attorneys at the law offices of Jacob Oresky are here to help you. Our team of New York City slip-and-fall attorneys has spent many years helping injured people just like you throughout the New York metro area, including in Westchester County and on Long Island. We pride ourselves on our skillful representation and our personalized service to our clients.

    For a free case evaluation, contact us online or call our office at 718-993-9999. Our phones are answered 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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