The most straightforward answer to this question is yes, you can. However, this will also depend on the specifics of your case. Here is everything you need to know about suing your cable company for tripping over wires.
Understanding the Elements of a Trip and Fall Case
When you trip and fall over the wires installed by your cable company, such an incident falls under trip and fall. In order to prove your trip and fall case, the following questions will come into play:
Did the Cable Company Owe You a Duty of Care?
The answer to this question will depend on where and how the trip and fall incident occurred. Suppose the cable company was installing wires at your residence. In that case, they owe you a duty of care to a certain extent. In other words, it is their responsibility to ensure whatever installation process they follow is safe for you, your family, and your guests.
That said, the cable company might not be liable if you tripped and fell while on a property where your presence was illegal. For example, say you had trespassed into private property and tripped and fell over wires, suffering serious injuries. In that case, while you may be visibly injured, the cable company may not be responsible because your presence at the property was illegal. Therefore, the court will likely rule that the cable company did not owe you a duty of care.
On the other hand, when the cable technician visits your property, you owe each other a duty of care. Specifically, as the homeowner or tenant, it is your responsibility to ensure that your property is safe for the cable technician. For instance, if you have a vicious dog, you must ensure they are locked up before the cable technician arrives at your residence.
The lawsuit against Jay Cutler and Kristin Cavallari is a classic example of why it is important to ensure that your home is safe before the cable technician arrives.
Now let’s look at it from the other side of the coin.
The cable technician also owes you a duty of care. In other words, they are responsible for ensuring that whatever they do at your property does not put you at risk of injury. For example, suppose they came to install new cable lines or repair an existing one. In that case, they must ensure that the job is well done, and the site is cleared after that.
Therefore, leaving unburied wires on the ground might be considered a form of negligence. Under normal circumstances, you would expect the technician to be able to cover up the unburied cables or take other measures to make that particular site safe from trips and falls.
More on that shortly.
Did the Dangerous Condition (Wires) Exist?
To prove your case, you must demonstrate that you got injured by an existing dangerous condition. This means you cannot file a claim or lawsuit for an injury if you cannot identify what injured you in the first place. It is just another way of saying, no suspect, no trial.
There are many different ways you may be able to prove that you got injured due to a dangerous condition. For example, take pictures of the wires that made you trip if you can. However, if you suffered a terrible fall and sustained serious injuries, it is understandable that you might not have the opportunity to take pictures.
Instead, all you will want to do in such a situation is to focus on getting immediate medical attention, which is highly advisable. Even so, you may still be able to obtain evidence in the form of surveillance footage to prove the existence of the dangerous condition.
Without proving this existence, the other party could claim that you are simply making up lies to obtain compensation. Such a defense could work even though your injuries are visible. Alternatively, the defense could claim that while it is possible that you got injured, the injuries had nothing to do with their unburied wires. It will therefore be upon you to prove that you actually got injured due to the wires left unburied by the cable technicians.
Did You Get Injured by the Dangerous Condition?
Thirdly, you must establish a direct connection between your injuries and the dangerous condition. In other words, you must prove that the wires caused your injuries and not something else.
Let’s say you almost tripped over the wires. You took a couple of steps forward, stepped on a slippery surface, and then slipped and fell. In that case, the defense could argue that the slippery surface caused your injuries, not the unburied wires left behind by the cable technicians.
This also explains the importance of collecting evidence as soon as possible. The more time you spend without collecting evidence, the harder it is to prove your case. If you cannot gather the evidence right after the accident, consider contacting a trip and fall attorney.
The attorney might be able to investigate the accident scene and preserve crucial evidence to prove the proximate cause of your injuries.
Did You Suffer Damages Due to the Injuries?
The whole point of filing a trip and fall claim or lawsuit is to obtain compensation for the damages you sustained. For this reason, you must prove that you suffered actual damages following the trip and fall incident. The damages can either be economic or non-economic.
Examples of economic damages caused by such injuries include but are not limited to:
- Loss of wages
- Loss of earning potential
- Medical expenses
- Cost of medical equipment
- Cost of transportation to medical appointments
- Caregiving costs
On the other hand, non-economic damages include but are not limited to:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental distress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Your spouse might also be able to file a loss of consortium claim. This standalone claim is usually filed by the victim’s spouse when the injured individual can no longer give the spouse love, affection, companionship, support, or even engage in sexual relations with them due to the accident.
Depending on the defendant’s conduct, the judge or jury might also award the plaintiff punitive damages. This award is usually granted if the judge or jury finds out that the defendant was grossly negligent, causing the injury to the plaintiff. As the name suggests, the award is meant to punish the defendant and send a strong warning to others that they would not get away with such actions.