My first boss always told clients that there are three things you need for any claim. First, you need liability. Somebody had to do something wrong. In a car accident this usually means someone hit you from behind, ran a stop sign or red light, or otherwise engaged in some improper driving. If someone has fallen in a store or other facility, this element is sometimes often hard to explain.
The general public, and even some lawyers (who are misinformed), believe that just because you fell on their property and got hurt that they are responsible. This is not true. The store operator must have done something wrong that caused or contributed to the injury. Often times this may be that they failed to correct a dangerous condition that they could have discovered with reasonable effort. For example, where a freezer is leaking water and a small puddle accumulates causing someone to slip, that is going to create a tough question for the jury. However, the larger the puddle, the longer that the condition was there to have been discovered by the store operator. If it can be shown that the store operator would have discovered it with reasonable inspections, and did not, then they have done something wrong, and hence have at least some liability in the matter.
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The second element that is required is that you have to have damages. Generally in my personal injury practice this means you have to be injured as a result of the liability mentioned above. If you were in an automobile accident with no damage to you or the car, you have no claim regardless of how wrong it was for the other driver to have run into you.
The general public, and even some lawyers (who are misinformed), believe that just because you fell on their property and got hurt that they are responsible. This is not true.
The third element is some source of money to pay for the damages. If you were rear ended by someone going 100 miles per hour, and have a broken leg and a broken arm, but the person that hit you has no insurance, no money, and you have no uninsured motorist coverage, you have no way to recover on your claim. Certainly you would be entitled to take that person to court (which could cost thousands of dollars). You would get a piece of paper called a judgment that would say that person owes you lots of money, but you could not get that person to pay you money they do not have.
— Mark Cornelius
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