Falling from the Roof

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Q: Yesterday, I was delivering building materials to a construction site.  They had asked me to pick up boxes from a hardware store and deliver them to a customer’s house.  When I did, a roll of roofing material fell from the roof and hit me on the head.

My boss has been saying that he never left roofing materials on that roof.  He says that his crew stopped work at the site three days before the incident.  He even says that for several weeks he had stopped using me, because of my headaches.

The customer backs him up.  He says that he was at the house that afternoon and saw no evidence of work being done.  He said it had snowed the day before and there were no tracks or disturbances in the fresh snow.

A: In a personal injury or property damage case, it is your burden to prove the defendant’s negligent.  However, you are in no position to prove directly what actually happened or that a specific act of the defendant was negligent.  The question is whether there is an alternative way to prove your case.

In some cases, the law allows a jury to consider the circumstantial evidence and infer that the defendant was negligent in some unspecified way.  For example, suppose that everyone agrees that a part of a building fell on you.  Certainly, properly-constructed buildings do not fall.

If there is no external violence of any kind, the fair presumption is that the fall occurred through some ruinous condition that could scarcely have escaped the observation of the owner.  The jury is then permitted to make a presumption of negligence on his part, which may, of course, be rebutted.

At the moment your circumstantial proof is not so convincing.  There appear to be strong witnesses against you.  Make sure your attorney is aggressive and resourceful, and tell him or her the facts, all the facts and nothing but the truth.

By: Scott Baron,
Attorney at Law Advertorial

The law responds to changed conditions; exceptions and variations abound. Here, the information is general; always seek out competent counsel. This article shall not be construed as legal advice.

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