Do I Have a Valid Lawsuit for Trip on Stairs?

by David
(Snellevile, GA)

I was visiting a friend at his apartment complex and I fell down the stairs. The stairway had a break in the landing creating a tripping hazard.

I hurt my back and I'm wondering if I have a valid lawsuit?

Visitor Question:
Disclaimer: Information provided in our response is NOT formal legal advice. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Under no circumstances should the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site be relied upon when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Our response does NOT create an attorney-client relationship. Always get a formal case review from a licensed attorney in your area.

ANSWER for "Do I Have a Valid Lawsuit for Trip on Stairs?":

David (Snellevile, GA):

There are several factors to be considered in determining if you have a valid lawsuit. The most important issue will be the severity your injuries. Normally lawsuit settlements are based on the type of injuries and the amount of money necessary for the injured party’s treatment and recovery.

Let’s discuss your fall and resultant back injury...

You must first seek treatment from a qualified physician. Once you have seen the doctor and she has run whatever tests she believes are necessary she will be able to create what are called a Diagnosis and Prognosis.

The Diagnosis is her evaluation of the injuries after evaluation and testing. Once she makes her diagnosis she will be able to create what is called a Prognosis. A Prognosis includes your physician’s evaluation of your present injuries, and her opinion of the future effect of those injuries including any limitations the injury may cause. The Prognosis will also include the necessary future treatment for the injury.

Let’s presume for example your Diagnosis is limited back sprain and your Prognosis is a prompt recovery after a small amount of therapy. Add to that the total amount of your past, present, and probable future medical bills which are commonly referred to as “Hard Costs”.

Next add your out of pocket expenses which may include prescribed medications such as muscle relaxers, bandages, crutches, and the like. Finally, add to the mix any lost wages.

Take the total amount of all those costs. Once accomplished you will have an idea of the “value” of your lawsuit, if there is one. Because your Diagnosis was limited back sprain the total amount of all of the above costs should be reasonably minimal.

As a result the value of a lawsuit would not really be worth the time, effort, and cost of filing and pursuing it. If, on the other hand your Diagnosis and Prognosis include not only a severe back injury, but a long, painful, and expensive cost of recovery, you will have a better reason to file suit.

Next you will need to determine if the stairway landing crack had been previously reported to the landlord, and they did nothing about it, or if the crack was so dangerous the landlord should have known about it.

If either of these answers is yes, then taken together with a serious back injury and a prolonged recovery with future limitations and high costs, and you will have sufficient reason to file suit.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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