Slip and fall accidents are unexpected and often unfortunate occurrences. These avoidable accidents frequently occur at businesses or on another person’s property. When someone slips and falls, they can suffer surprisingly severe and costly injuries, so victims should always learn whether another party should be liable for their accident.
The best way to know your legal rights following this type of injury is by consulting with a slip and fall attorney near you. Seek a free case evaluation, when the lawyer can assess whether you have a valid case and you can determine whether you want to work with this particular attorney.
You want to start standing up for your rights as soon as possible if someone else is liable for your slip and fall accident.
Duty of Care That a Premises Owner Owes to Visitors
The duty of care that a premises owner owes to a visitor will depend upon the visitor’s status on the property. In venues like stores, shopping centers, restaurants, music venues, and sports stadiums, the individuals who visit and patronize these establishments are business invitees.
A business owner owes these individuals the highest possible duty of care. Specifically, the owner or manager must warn about or correct known dangerous hazards on the premises. They also must regularly inspect their properties for hazards and warn about or repair them. When a business customer suffers a fall on the premises, and the property owner knew about a risk but failed to post a warning, it can lead to liability for the customer’s serious injuries.
Other property visitors are social guests or invitees. A social guest visits premises for their own benefit and not the benefit of the property owner. A visitor to someone’s house is a typical example of a social guest. The duty of care that a premises owner owes social guests is similar to a business invitee. Specifically, the property owner must warn about or correct any dangerous conditions on their property for the benefit of a social guest.
The final classification of property visitors is a trespasser. Technically, the premises owner does not owe a trespasser a duty of care to warn about or correct a dangerous condition on the premises. However, if the property owner knows about the trespasser, or if the trespasser is a child, the property owner might owe some legal duty of care to warn about or correct a hazard.
If you have suffered a slip and fall injury on property belonging to someone else, you should speak with a knowledgeable slip and fall attorney right away. A skilled personal injury attorney can review the circumstances of your accident and determine whether the property owner violated the applicable duty of care. They can then file a claim with the appropriate insurance company on your behalf and work to get you a favorable settlement to cover your losses.
Common Slip and Fall Hazards
Many slips and falls happen because companies or property owners allow dangerous conditions to persist, and a hazard signals that you can hold someone liable for your losses.
Some common slip and fall hazards include:
- Spills on the floor that no one cleaned up promptly
- Slippery flooring surfaces
- Worn or torn carpet
- Items left in walkways
- Debris on the ground
- Electrical cords not secured to the wall
- Ramps or stairs without proper railings
- Failing to warn of known hazards the owner cannot repair right away
If any of these conditions – among others – caused your fall, you can hold the responsible party liable for your injuries.
Another critical factor is where the slip and fall occurred.
Some common locations that indicate someone else’s liability include:
- Grocery stores
- Big box stores, such as Walmart or Costco
- Hotels and resorts
- Spas and salons
- Restaurants and bars
- Common areas of apartment or condo complexes
- Other private properties
- Schools and universities
If your fall happened on another company or person’s premises, they might be liable for your losses. Your slip and fall attorney can review the circumstances of your fall and advise you of your rights to possible compensation.
Proving That a Property Owner Was Negligent
It is not enough to know someone else should be liable – you also must prove liability to a certain degree. This degree is by a preponderance of the evidence, which means you must demonstrate at least a 51 percent likelihood that the property owner was liable. To do so, you must provide proof of negligence on the property owner’s part, and you want the right legal help.
Proving that a property owner was negligent can sometimes be an uphill battle. This is because the insurance company representing the property owner will do everything possible to dispute fault for the accident. They may claim that the accident victim caused or contributed to their fall and injuries. An experienced slip and fall attorney on your side increases the chances that you will succeed in your accident case.
To prove that a premises owner was negligent under the circumstances, you must demonstrate that the property owner owed you a duty of care and violated it. Specifically, the premises owner must have been aware of the defect or hazard on the property and failed to warn about or correct it within a reasonable time. In addition, the accident victim will need to prove they suffered at least one injury and resulting losses in the slip and fall accident.
What to Do to Help Your Case?
In some cases, you cannot determine precisely how a slip and fall accident occurred. Therefore, provide a written statement as soon as possible after the accident describing what you remember. Report the matter to the business or property management.
If you can, take pictures of the accident scene and your injuries, including where you fell. If you see a spill on the floor or something leaking overhead, photograph it. Owners should fix the problem to avoid future injuries, so evidence of the hazard can disappear quickly without photo documentation. If you are too injured, see if someone else can send you photos.
Moreover, if anyone at the scene of the occurrence saw you fall, you should get their name and contact information in case they need to be a witness. In general, the more information you have about how your slip and fall accident occurred, the higher the likelihood you can recover monetary compensation as part of your slip and fall case.
After the initial evidence gathering, you should always seek proper medical attention for your injuries.
Getting a quick diagnosis can:
- Ensure you start the necessary treatment immediately
- Create an official record of your injuries that you can present to insurance companies
Once your physical condition is stable enough, you should not wait to seek help from a slip and fall lawyer who can take over the legal process.
How a Lawyer Can Help Your Case?
Your lawyer can review all the information you have and advise you of your rights. If they pursue a claim for you, they can gather additional evidence of liability. This can include obtaining video surveillance footage from the store or property that shows how your fall happened. They can also get any police reports or accident reports that followed your slip and fall.
Your lawyer might need to retain an expert, such as an accident reconstructionist, who can piece together how the occurrence happened and the likely cause of your slip and fall. The expert might prepare a report or testify at trial if the insurance company is disputing fault for the accident.
Finally, your lawyer might need to retain a medical expert who can causally connect your injuries to the slip and fall accident. A medical expert might state, to a reasonable degree of medical probability, that you suffered a permanent injury in your accident and are likely to suffer symptoms for the remainder of your life.
All of this evidence proves liability for your slip and fall and the extent of your injuries and losses. It can be difficult – or impossible – to gather much of this evidence without help from a law firm, especially while you are dealing with the aftermath of your injuries.
Common Slip and Fall Injuries and Losses
The potential injuries that a slip and fall accident victim might suffer will depend on the location of the fall, what the accident victim fell on (such as carpeting or concrete), and how the accident victim fell. Generally speaking, slip and fall accident victims suffer the most severe injuries if they fall on a hard surface such as concrete and land on their knee, ankle, back, or head.
Some of the most common injuries that a slip and fall accident victim can suffer include:
- Hip fractures
- Other broken bones
- Back injuries
- Tailbone and pelvis injuries
- Joint injuries
- Soft tissue injuries
Your priority should be getting medical treatment for your injuries right after your fall. If you believe you suffered severe injuries, do not hesitate to call 911. Emergency medical personnel can advise whether you need an ambulance ride or can take yourself to the ER after you file the accident report.
The losses you experience will vary depending on the severity of your injuries, and they can include:
- Medical bills
- Costs of future medical care
- Lost income if you had to miss work
- Future lost earnings due to disabilities from your injuries
- Physical and mental pain and suffering
- Permanent impairments or disabilities
- Loss of enjoyment of life
You want to ensure you receive compensation for all of your past and future economic and non-economic losses from the liable party. If you accept a settlement from an insurance company and it is inadequate, it is usually impossible to seek additional compensation later on. You want a slip and fall lawyer dealing with the liable party’s insurer from the start to ensure you get the total amount you deserve.
Deadline to File a Personal Injury Claim or Lawsuit
You cannot wait years to file a slip and fall claim against a liable party. Slip-and-fall accidents fall under the umbrella of personal injury, and every state has deadlines for injury lawsuits, which are statutes of limitations. Some states have limitations as short as one or two years from your injury, so never delay starting your claim.
If you miss the statute of limitations, you cannot seek compensation through an injury lawsuit, with only rare exceptions. If you file an insurance claim once the statute of limitations expires, the insurance company will know the deadline has passed, and litigation is no longer an option. This gives them leverage to limit your settlement offer.
Start the legal process with plenty of time by consulting with a lawyer who can handle your case right away.
Seek the Legal Help You Need From a Slip and Fall Attorney
To many people, slips and falls are embarrassing accidents, and victims might downplay their injuries and blame themselves for clumsiness. However, other parties regularly cause surprisingly severe injuries through slip and fall accidents.
Never hesitate to have a lawyer evaluate what happened and advise whether someone else is liable for your injuries. Doing so can provide you with the financial recovery you need to be whole again following your accident. Case evaluations with slip and fall lawyers should always be free, so there is no risk in making a call today.