Injured by a Falling Object: Who Is Liable?

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Falling objects are extremely dangerous. When an object falls from height, it can pick up speed, multiplying the force at which it strikes. Falling object injuries can happen to you anywhere, and they are most common in the workplace.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are over 50,000 injuries each year from falling objects.

Where Falling Object Accident Can Happen

There are many places where falling object injuries can happen, including:

  • When you are walking by a construction site
  • When things are dropped or fall off a building or a freeway overpass
  • Falling ice from buildings in the winter months
  • Items falling from high shelves in stores
  • When someone has thrown something off a building balcony
  • A light fixture falling from the ceiling

Common Falling Accident Injuries

Falling object injuries can be very serious. For example, if something falls from a crane, the accident victim may not survive the accident. Items falling from shelves can be very sharp or hit the accident victim where they can cause severe damage.

Falling objects can cause the following injuries:

  • Fractures
  • Neck and back injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Internal injuries

Even a small object dropped from several floors up can cause serious injury because of the laws of physics. The burgeoning growth of Wilmington means that there are more construction sites than ever around town.

Proving Negligence in a Falling Object Case

Stores and businesses owe their customers a duty of care. They must keep the premises safe and alert customers to dangers they know about or should know about. A business is not responsible for every single injury, but it can be made to pay when you can prove that they were negligent.

In some cases, you would need to find the responsible party and be in a relatively strong position to receive financial compensation. You would still need to prove negligence to win your case, but that may not be as difficult as in other personal injury cases.

The Res Ipsa Loquitur Doctrine

There is a principle in personal injury cases called res ipsa loquitur. In Latin, it means “the thing speaks for itself.” In other words, the fact that the accident happened is proof in itself that someone was negligent because objects should never fall from the sky and hit you.

One of the original cases that applied the res ipsa loquitur doctrine was the case of Byrdle v. Boadle when a barrel of flour fell from a second-floor window and hit the plaintiff in the head. If the jury applies this rule, there is a presumption of negligence, and the burden falls on the defendant to prove that they were not negligent.

To prove your case under the res ipsa loquitur doctrine, you would need to show the following:

  • The accident is the type that would not have happened without negligence.
  • The defendant had sole control of the instrumentality that caused the accident.
  • The plaintiff did nothing to cause the accident.

How Negligence Causes Falling Object Injuries

In other cases, you would need to prove that the defendant was negligent. In the retail store example, you could prove that the store staff carelessly overstocked a high shelf or had items on the very edge of the shelf. In that case, you have the burden of proof to show that the defendant acted unreasonably under the circumstances.

There have been numerous cases in which courts have ruled against stores for the way they stacked items on shelves or piled boxes that customers touched. Defendants will try to blame the customer for their injury, claiming that they had stacked the items perfectly safely, but the customer moved the goods in a dangerous way.

However, the items may not have fallen if the store was not careless in the first place. Suing a company may mean more compensation because corporate defendants always carry larger insurance policies and have more assets to pay for judgments.

Here are some other ways that businesses can be negligent:

  • A hotel does not provide adequate security, and a guest drops something off the balcony that injures someone else.
  • A building owner does not clean the facade from ice, and it falls and strikes someone.
  • A building owner does not inspect their premises, and a brick or debris falls and hits a passerby.

Each falling object case will depend on facts. An experienced attorney would do the following for you:

  • Investigate your accident and gather evidence about what happened.
  • Discover all potentially responsible parties to hold them legally accountable.
  • File a claim against the defendant’s insurance policy or a lawsuit against them in court.
  • Negotiate compensation with the insurance company that fairly pays you for your damages.

The first step is to call an attorney because you can lose evidence that you need to prove your case very quickly if you do not act.

Contact a Wilmington Falling Object Injury Lawyer Today

The attorneys at Horton Mendez work on behalf of personal injury victims to recover the highest compensation possible. We gather evidence and hold defendants accountable for their careless actions when they have injured you.

First, you contact us for a free consultation to discuss your case. You can call us at (910) 668-8067 or message us online to set up an appointment.

Falling Object FAQs

What if the defendant tries to blame me for the accident?

Your attorney would need to defend your actions, even though you are the plaintiff.

How much can I receive in damages in a falling object case?

You can be paid for out-of-pocket and other economic costs and non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering.

How long will my falling object case take?

It depends on several factors, including how reasonable the insurance company is and whether you need to file a lawsuit.

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