Very often success or failure in a slip and fall lawsuit depends on the testimony of an expert witness. An inexperienced injury attorney representing a client in a slip and fall accident might not be aware of when an expert’s opinion could tip the scales in his client’s favor. Very often the necessity for an expert opinion is overlooked, or if an expert is called it may be too late. Take a hypothetical case.
When coming down the stairs in an old and badly maintained apartment complex, Mr. Melfi trips and tumbles in the course of which he breaks his hip. He had taken due care when climbing down to hold the railing, but the rail suddenly detached itself, causing the fall. There were two similar falls in the past. In one case a female tenant tripped and fell on a loose stair and in the other, a male tenant tripped because the staircase was not lit at night. The tenants had complained often about the necessity to replace the bulb and on other issues, none of which were addressed by the owner.
Mr. Melfi’s son hired an injury attorney, with little experience, who happened to call in an expert, but not in a timely fashion. During the period before hiring an expert witness, the landlord, knowing how vulnerable he was, had the staircase repaired, leaving no evidence of why it failed.
The attorney counted on the fact that there had been precedent accidents for which a number of tenants were prepared to offer testimony. However at trial the judge refused to allow this evidence because it had no bearing on the present case. The expert did give testimony, but which was torn to shreds by the defense attorney since the expert had not seen the damage when it happened, thereby making his testimony circumstantial. The jury found in favor of the landlord.
If you are victim of a slip and fall accident, be sure to engage an experienced injury attorney with knowledge of slip and fall cases.