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Expert Witness Explains Building Codes in Slip and Fall Cases

Getting the building and safety codes correct in any case is vital. When the expert cites or reports the wrong codes for a litigation case, the credibility and reliability of testimony is reduced in the eyes of a judge or jury panel. This means that the case is not as strong and the chances of success are lessened.

This could show that the expert witness is not versed enough in the field, and his or her experience may be more theory than practice and being in the professional world. If the wrong building code is specified, it may mean that the injury sustained could have been caused by something else entirely. This would cause a case to fail completely.

Determining what actually happened in the incident is essential, and providing the correct building codes for any slip and fall accident should be standard. When the victim is questioned about the issue, he or she should be capable of providing the proper details about a slip, trip or fall. This means that there could be a variety of codes used for the case, but it is determined by the type of incident that transpired. Other factors of the issue may affect the particulars of the codes as well. OSHA standards apply
to building safety protocols and standard safety implementation within the building, and this may alter certain elements of the suit based on what is found when the investigation concludes.

Where the Incident Occurred

When the investigation into the incident discovers where the incident occurred, it is possible to determine who is at fault for the accident. This also may change the code based on the exact initial point of a fall or slip and where the person ends up. Building codes are also dissimilar based on whether the property was commercial, residential or a public facility used for certain services. Exits, entrances and walkways may also alter specifics. Other factors that may be included are construction dates, any possible renovation of the areas and similar matters. The elements of where and when the accident occurred are important, but the construction dates also may cause building codes to change as well. Fire and Safety Code effective in the structure may cause an update requirement in the codes based on any time of loss.

Changes such as dates and factors of the incident often cause alterations or updates to the effective codes, and this could cause confusion if an expert is used to explain this information. When applying any loss to the construction dates within and around the structure and to the incident, the codes that apply to the claim may be entirely different than if these are not accounted for with the accident. Another aspect that may cause a change is the jurisdiction. This would be the state, city or local municipality. Each of these may have a different standard or code based on the year and location. This could also mean that one year has another year’s standards in effect. Only an experienced expert witness that understands the differences of state is able to apply these changes to ensure the right codes are used for the case.

Expert Witness Obtaining Codes and Standards

It is vital that when there is a slip and fall case that the expert witness obtains the relevant codes and standards so that the right information is applied to the case. Yearly changes alter what codes are used as well as the location, situation and other factors such as what may be in or around the building. The type of building matters in these circumstances as well as various implemented regulations based on standards in use for certain states or applications of regularly used codes. For any slip and fall accident, it is best to reference the State Fire and Safety Codes for the corresponding state of where the incident took place due to inefficiency with code usage before 1970. Standards adopted later may apply to earlier years based on the complications of older codes that may not have been correctly classified.

Because of the technical issues with building codes, an expert witness must be fully up to date with the changes, understand what must be researched based on the year and location and he or she must be able to adapt to other alterations to these issues. The testimony of these professionals is invaluable when they have provided the correct and validated data to ensure the right information applies to the situation in the case.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.

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