Slip and falls are a major public health and safety problem. In grocery stores, on sidewalks, at work and at the mall, thousands of people become injured after slip-and-fall accidents each year – especially the elderly. The law requires property owners to make sure that visitors or customers are not put at risk, but unfortunately this legal responsibility gets ignored all too often.
Have you been hurt in a slip-and-fall accident? An experienced slip and fall lawyer can review your case to see if you are owed any compensation.
DEFINITION OF PREMISES LIABILITY
Business owners and private property owners alike have a duty to make their premises safe. When they don’t, a body of law called “premises liability” protects victims from unreasonable injuries and costs because of a property owner’s negligence.
Slip and fall accidents can occur for many reasons and, according to national data, most of the tumbles occur on a flat-level walking surface instead of from a height. Here are some common ways that people slip and fall:
- No safety features: Lack of handrails or stairs from one surface level to another could cause visitors to slip, trip and fall. In many cases, a basic level of safety features could have prevented the slip and fall accident from happening.
- Poor lighting: In areas where there is low or no light, it’s a lot easier for people to fall.
- Slippery substance on the floor: Whether it’s from cleaning products or from a spill, a floor with a slippery substance on it is unsafe for guests and pedestrians. Signs or other warnings should be put up when a floor has just been waxed, mopped or polished, and other spills should be cleaned up promptly.
- Snow, sleet and ice: Property managers in rental communities and private homeowners alike are required to make efforts to clean up snow, sleet and ice for the safety of all involved.
- Worn or damaged flooring: Floorboards that are loose, broken or missing tiles, and unsecured rugs, carpets and mats can all lead to uneven surfaces in the floor – causing passersby to trip, slip or fall.
- Excessive clutter or debris: In an office building or store, walkways and aisles must be cleared for people to walk through them and not cluttered with boxes, merchandise or supplies that might make a tripping hazard.
Generally, to hold a business or private property owner accountable under premises liability laws, they must have:
- Known about the hazard and didn’t fix it
- Didn’t warn guests or visitors about the hazard
- Should have known about the hazard or dangerous condition through routine cleaning and safety inspections.
This gives victims a number of ways to seek recovery. For example, a property owner who did not properly maintain his or her property for the safety and comfort of guests could be found liable. A responsible property owner would make routine inspections to be sure that no slipping or tripping hazards exist that could cause injuries.
In addition, a property owner could be found responsible for slip and fall injuries if s/he failed to warn tenants, visitors and guests about the existence of unsafe conditions.
HOW WE HANDLE YOUR SLIP AND FALL CLAIM
Though there are many ways a slip and fall can occur, we bring the same dedication to all of our cases and clients. If we decide to take on your slip and fall claim, you can focus on your recovery while knowing that we will aggressively pursue any legal avenues that can help you. Our approach to handling your slip and fall claim may include:
- Visiting the scene of the slip and fall: A qualified slip and fall lawyer will review the factors and conditions that led up to your slip and fall, from photographs or video surveillance. A visit to the scene can also be invaluable. There, your personal injury lawyer will be able to determine what hazardous conditions exist, whether there were any warning signs and a variety of other crucial parts of your case.
- Speaking with witnesses: A visit to the scene of the slip and fall may also yield potential witnesses. Many people have the same daily routine and, if their presence can be located at about the same time of day as the slip and fall occurred, they may be able to corroborate a victim’s account. An experienced slip and fall lawyer can assist with tracking down witnesses and gathering their testimony to support your case.
- Reviewing safety records: An important determination of liability in a slip and fall lawsuit is whether or not the property owner knew or should have known about the hazard that existed. Your personal injury lawyer can gather and review records, such as the store cleaning log or the safety inspection schedule, to find out whether the property owner could be responsible for the accident.
- Gathering important evidence: Your slip and fall lawyer can help you collect accident reports, medical documents, photographs and more that can be used to help your case in the settlement phase as well as in court.
- Assessing your injuries: The injuries that occur as a result of slip and fall accidents often won’t be very clear. While the immediate medical treatment that was required can be easily tracked, how much money a victim will spend in the future as a result of the accident isn’t as easy to calculate. Many insurance companies ignore this important factor when offering a settlement, but it’s important to keep the long-term view in mind. With the elderly, for example, a slip and fall can be so devastating that they will become less mobile and active for the rest of their lives for fear of falling – which could lead to additional health problems. Whatever the case, it’s important to assess whether your slip and fall injuries will be making an unwelcome reappearance down the line. Along with your medical provider, your personal injury lawyer can help come up with a diagnosis for you.
- Negotiating a settlement: Many personal injury lawsuits are resolved before trial. To make sure you’re getting a fair settlement from the insurance company that adequately takes care of your needs, you’ll want a quality slip and fall lawyer who knows how to calculate your damages and argue for a better offer. If these efforts are unsuccessful, a qualified lawyer will begin building your case for trial instead.
If you have been the victim of a slip and fall, don’t delay in contacting us. It is crucial to get this type of claim started in a timely manner, because evidence can often disappear or be covered up in the aftermath of a slip and fall. Your personal injury lawyer will want to get started right away in order to collect evidence and interview witnesses before they begin to forget. In addition, there are also strict deadlines for filing a slip and fall claim no matter where you live.
If the action or inaction of a property owner has you dealing with painful injuries, don’t foot the bill without finding out if you have a case. Contact our experienced slip and fall lawyers for a free assessment.