Slip and fall accidents are the most common reason for the filing of personal injury claims. The injuries that can result from a slip or fall accident can range from mild and acute to severe and lasting, with the most severe cases causing permanent disability for victims.
The potential causes of slip and fall personal injuries are vast and varied, with the following being the most common causes in civil lawsuits.
- Inclement weather conditions causing slick or otherwise hazardous surfaces indoors and outdoors
- Slick or slippery flooring inside buildings for any other reason
- Potholes and uneven or broken sidewalks or other pedestrian pathways
- Uneven floors or those left in some state of hazard producing disrepair
- Carpeting with ripples or that slides when stepped or walked on
- Stairs, ramps or other surfaces left in disrepair
- Items left on walking paths and floors that cause pedestrians to lose their footing
The owner of a property (whether public or private) is legally responsible for maintaining the property and for informing visitors of any potential safety hazards. Property owners are also liable for any injuries that occur on their premises, including slip and fall injuries. A property owner can therefore be held financially liable for damages that result from slip and fall injuries if:
- They did not take appropriate steps to correct the hazard within a reasonable amount of time,
- They did not make appropriate attempts to warn visitors of potential danger or prevent visitor access to the hazardous area.
Proving Your Slip and Fall Personal Injury Claim
The purpose of a personal injury claim due to a slip and fall incident is most commonly to receive financial compensation to cover medical costs and other damages associated with injuries. In order to prove your claim, you must seek medical attention as soon as injuries become apparent and ideally immediately following the slip and fall incident. You must also notify the property owner of the incident as soon as you are able to do so, again, ideally immediately after the incident occurred.
Extensive medical documentation of the injuries you suffered should be present in your case file. Medical documentation must also clearly link your medical condition and any complications you experience to the injuries you suffered in your slip and fall accident. Though proof of physical injury crucial to supporting your claim, you must also show the property owner was somehow negligent in their duties to maintain their property and/or warn visitors of potential hazards.
You must prove the property owner was aware of the hazard or that they could reasonably have been expected to be aware of the hazard. The amount of time a hazard existed is an important factor in proving negligence, because property owners are afforded a “reasonable amount of time” to correct hazardous conditions in most cases. The exception to this is in cases where severe hazards are present. More severe hazards must be addressed immediately, including blocking access to the area and warning visitors of the risks of entering the area. The amount of time a hazard existed is also important when proving the property owner should have known about the hazard. For instance, it’s difficult for a property owner to prove they were unaware of a potential hazard if it has existed for weeks or months.
In addition to proving the property owner was somehow at fault for your injuries, you must also disprove that your own actions played any substantial part in the injuries you suffered. If you disregarded warning signs, acted irresponsibly in some other manner, or have a medical condition that causes you an uneven gait or other walking limitations for instance, you may not have a successful personal injury claim in your slip and fall case.
Your Slip and Fall Personal Injury Case
Proving a property owner’s liability for slip and fall injuries can be challenging under some circumstances. Being able to prove you were not at fault for your own injuries can sometimes be difficult as well, particularly if there were no witnesses to your accident. Having legal help from a personal injury lawyer familiar with handling slip and fall claims is important in determining whether you have a winnable case.
If your case is viable, your attorney can also help you collect the appropriate documentation for supporting your claim. He or she will handle the negotiation of a potential settlement with the property owner’s insurance carrier and can also argue your case in court, should your claim proceed to trial. A slip and fall personal injury lawyer can increase your chances of seeing damages awarded for covering your medical and other injury-related expenses and losses.