If you experience a slip and fall injury, you may need financial assistance for your medical expenses and lost wages. A slip and fall injury attorney can help determine who is liable for your fall.
Slip and fall accidents can be disastrous. One minute you are walking along, engaged in everyday activities, and the next, you are on the ground, suffering from a serious injury. Elderly individuals are more susceptible to a hip fracture due to a slip and fall simply because their bones are generally more fragile. Approximately 300,000 older patients are hospitalized annually for hip fractures from slip and fall incidents.
People of working age also suffer from slip and fall accidents. The construction industry is notorious for workplace injuries and fatalities due to slip and falls. Over 25,000 construction workers experience severe injuries from falls or trips each year, some of which are fatal.
However, you do not have to be elderly or work in construction to slip and fall. Many people sustain injuries from falls at the grocery store, the office, a shopping center, or a friend’s home.
This article will outline a few types of slip and fall accidents and how to establish who is liable.
What Is a Slip and Fall Accident?
A slip and fall accident occurs when someone falls because of hazards in their path. Spilled liquids, tangled cords, snow, ice, raised carpeting, and unfilled holes can all result in a slip and fall. Negligence occurs when the premises owner fails to take adequate care of their property, resulting in an accident.
Slip and fall accidents commonly lead to broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, sprains and strains, and lacerations. In the worst cases, slip and fall accidents can kill someone. According to the CDC, one of every five slip and fall accidents results in a broken bone or head injury.
You must speak with a personal injury lawyer if you have experienced a slip and fall accident. A lawyer can determine how to recoup the financial losses you have suffered because of your injuries.
Where Do Slip and Fall Accidents Occur?
A slip and fall accident can occur anywhere. Some of the most typical places where these unfortunate incidents happen include:
Retailers experience lots of foot traffic throughout the day from their customers. Sometimes, they do not have enough onsite employees to monitor the store regularly and remove items or liquids that may cause a slip and fall accident. Unsuspecting clients can easily fall over a spilled drink or debris clogging the aisles, resulting in injury.
Sidewalks and Roads
Busy sidewalks are notorious for having hazards like cracks and holes. People taking a stroll or running errands can easily trip and fall, landing on the hard concrete. Common walkways, such as entrances to a business or apartment building, can also hold threats to visitors, like uncleared snow and ice.
While most people do not consider an office to hold many hazards, slip and fall accidents do occur. A slick bathroom floor, carpet in disrepair, or spilled liquid in the lunchroom can all result in an accident. Premises owners are responsible for ensuring the safety of those who visit a property.
Construction and Building Sites
Construction workers often spend time on ladders and scaffolding to perform their jobs. A simple misstep can easily lead to a devastating slip and fall accident, resulting in severe or fatal injuries. Electricians are also at risk for trips over tangled cords and other debris while at work.
Homes of Friends and Relatives
Most of us visit the homes of friends and relatives. However, their houses may contain children’s toys or unrepaired flooring in the hallways. Since most visitors are unfamiliar with others’ homes, they can easily fall over objects or in areas that are not properly maintained.
Your Own Home
Sometimes, a slip and fall accident can occur right in your home. There may be a defect in the house that you were unaware of, or a loved one may fail to clean up a mess that results in your injuries.
Types of Injuries in a Slip and Fall Case
Individuals who experience a slip and fall may suffer numerous injuries, including:
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI), including concussion
- Broken arm or leg
- Knee injury
- Strains or sprains
- Damage to the spine or back muscles
- Facial lacerations
- Internal organ damage
- Broken hip
The severity of your injury depends on how you fell and landed. Slipping on a harder surface tends to result in more serious injuries. Individuals in poor health have a higher chance of sustaining severe wounds.
Proving Liability in a Slip and Fall Case
Duty of Care
The first step of establishing liability in a slip and fall case is showing a duty of care between you and the property owner. A duty of care occurs when you have a right to be on the property.
For instance, a duty of care exists between retailers and their customers. Retailers expect foot traffic from clients in their stores. They must take the appropriate precautions to ensure that the store remains free of hazards.
Businesses owe clients and employees safe premises to walk around in. Owners should take care of any spills or tripping hazards quickly. If owners cannot remove the threat immediately, they must place visible hazard signs or rope off the area to prevent unaware individuals from suffering injuries.
Municipalities are responsible for repairing roads and sidewalks with cracks or holes promptly. If unsuspecting individuals trip or fall over the damaged areas of the sidewalk or street, the municipality may be liable.
Friends and relatives owe a duty of care to visitors to their property. They must ensure that common areas are clean from tripping hazards and notify guests of any unrepaired walkways.
Finally, construction workers, electricians, and those in similar industries are constantly exposed to slip and fall hazards during their daily tasks. Their employers owe them a duty of care to ensure their protection from slip and fall incidents.
If you are in doubt, a personal injury attorney can help you determine whether a duty of care existed between you and the premises owner.
Breach of Duty
A breach of duty of care occurs when the premises owner fails to uphold their duty of care to customers, guests, employees, or others expected to visit the property. For instance, they may fail to clean up a spill within a reasonable time frame or choose not to repair a walkway due to the expense.
Any time a property owner becomes aware of a potential hazard on their property, they must take steps to repair it immediately or notify individuals of the threat of a slip and fall injury.
For instance, janitors who regularly clean bathrooms and common areas place hazard signs around recently mopped areas to notify individuals of the potential for falling.
A municipality should rope off sidewalks with cracks and holes until the construction team can repair them.
Homeowners must keep common pathways clear of debris and notify visitors of any areas that are in disrepair, such as a deck or staircase.
In general, the injured party must prove that the premises owner failed to act as a reasonable person would to protect visitors from slip and fall accidents. A personal injury attorney can help you establish whether the premises owner did not warn you of potential hazards that could result in a slip and fall accident.
There must be a direct link between the premises owner’s breach of duty and the injuries you sustained in a slip and fall accident. If you cannot prove that their actions (or inactions) resulted in your fall, your case will fail.
Causation is apparent when the premises owner knew of the potential slipping hazard and did nothing to correct it or warn visitors of the potential risk. For instance, a business owner aware of damaged carpeting has to repair it or alert employees of the hazard through signs or notifications.
A retail store is responsible to its customers for ensuring that enough staff is on hand to clear hazards from walkways promptly.
For instance, retailers should expect more customers than usual during a Black Friday sale. They should have more staff available to make sure that walkways remain clear of debris and spills that could result in a slip and fall accident.
A court will dismiss the case if you cannot directly link the premises owner’s breach of duty to the causation of your injuries.
For instance, if you slip and fall at a retail store because you accidentally drop your purse, the court will likely find that you are responsible for your injuries, not the store owner. The store owner could not have reasonably foreseen your accident and did not cause your injuries.
A personal injury attorney can help you establish a link between the premises owner’s breach of duty and the causation of your injuries.
Finally, your accident must result in losses to you. You must sustain some type of injury as a result of your fall. If you slip and fall, but the accident does not cause you any financial or physical damage, you will not have a case.
A slip and fall accident that leads to a hospital visit, surgery, and lost time from work will meet the damage requirements in a personal injury case.
However, you have not sustained any losses if you slip and fall and walk away without injuries. There is no need for a premises owner to make you financially whole again since you have not suffered any wounds.
Personal injury lawyers with experience with slip and fall cases can help you establish the damage you have incurred due to your accident.
Proving Negligence in a Slip and Fall Case
Following a slip and fall accident, you should gather as much evidence as possible. Take pictures of the scene of the accident, including what led to your fall. Make sure to photograph the entire area to prove the property owner did not have the area roped off and that no signs were warning of a potential injury risk.
If the premises owner attempts to get you to admit that you were at fault for the accident in any way, avoid speaking with them or providing any sort of written statement. Instead, let them know you would rather not discuss the incident because you need medical attention.
If you are at a retail store, try to get the names of employees or managers on the premises at the time of your accident.
You will want to keep records of any medical treatment you receive. Doctor’s bills and documents can help prove that your injuries resulted from your slip and fall accident.
Once you have begun recovering from your accident, it is essential to seek advice from a personal injury lawyer. A personal injury lawyer can help you determine whether your accident resulted from someone else’s negligence and the appropriate steps to take to file a lawsuit.
Types of Damages in a Slip and Fall Case
You may receive several types of compensation due to your accident.
Economic damages are compensation for financial losses sustained directly from a slip and fall. Economic damages include past and future medical treatment costs and lost wages if you cannot work. A personal injury attorney can determine the monetary losses you have incurred as a direct result of your injuries from the slip and fall accident.
Non-economic damages are not as easily measurable as economic damages. However, they can be just as financially devastating, especially in cases involving severe injuries. Non-economic damages include mental pain and anguish, disability or disfigurement, and loss of quality of life.
A personal injury lawyer can help you determine the appropriate amount of non-economic damages for your case.
In extreme cases, a court will award punitive damages to punish the defendant for their actions and discourage others from acting similarly.
Slip and Fall Accidents: When It Is Time to Call a Lawyer
Slip and fall accidents can be devastating, especially when an individual sustains severe injuries. Seek legal advice if you suffer from injuries due to a slip and fall.
A personal injury attorney can assist you in determining who is liable for your damages and file a lawsuit to collect compensation for your wounds.