You fell on the property of another party, and you believe your fall was due to the conditions of the property or the actions of those on the premises. The law allows victims of negligence in slip and fall accidents to seek compensation for the damages they sustain. You want to find out who is responsible for your injuries and how you can seek compensation for the losses you will incur. A slip and fall accident attorney is the best solution to make sure you protect your rights and find the right parties that may be liable to you for your damages.
What Is a Slip and Fall Accident?
A slip, trip, or fall that happens while you are on someone else’s property is a type of personal injury case that falls under the category of premises liability. Premises liability cases are those in which the victim suffers injuries on another’s property. A private party or government entity may own the property. A premises liability accident can happen anywhere, and depending on the circumstances of your accident and injuries, another party may be liable to you for your losses that arise after the fact.
According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, on average, people in the U.S. will take four trips each day to work, recreation, restaurants, the store, a friend’s house, appointments, the list is endless. On a busy day, you can find yourself making several stops to run errands and other activities. Each time you step onto the land or building of another person, you are potentially at risk of an accident.
Your Chance of Becoming a Slip and Fall Victim
Research by the CDC indicates that nearly. one million hospitalizations occur because of slip and fall accidents each year. Slips and falls are a serious public safety concern as anyone in the population can become a victim. The elderly, in particular, are at the highest risk of death and serious injuries from slips and falls as they are more susceptible to falling, with 25 percent of the elderly population suffering a fall each year.
Over the past decade, falls have become a rising problem in the U.S., with future estimates projecting that by 2030 seven people will die each hour because of falls.
The Common Injuries That Can Occur Due to a Slip and Fall
For some victims, a slip and fall accident can be deadly. Other victims may come out relatively unscathed with minor injuries. Most victims of a slip and fall will survive the accident but face serious injuries that can require significant healing time and can have lasting effects on their day-to-day life in the future. The circumstances that lead to a slip and fall, the hazards around you at the time of an accident, and your physical health can influence how severe your injuries might be.
Examples of slip and fall injuries that can occur include:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Head and neck injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Back injuries
- Nerve damage
- Joint injuries
- Injuries to ligaments, muscles, and/or tendons
The Causes of Slip and Fall Accidents
External forces or obstacles are the most common cause of a slip and fall accident. In most slip and fall cases, were it not for a hazard present at the time of the accident, a victim’s injuries would not happen. Many dangers can lurk on the property of another. Whether in structures, on landscapes and terrain, or other elements, many things can go wrong and injure visitors.
Some of the most common causes of slip and fall accidents include:
- Hazards or clutter on walking paths
- Flooring that is in disrepair or uneven walking surfaces
- Slippery surfaces due to flooring choice or liquid spills
- Poor lighting
- Lack of safety features such as handrails
- Dangerous stairs, ramps, escalators, or elevators
- Poor property maintenance
- Failure to routinely inspect the property
- Dangers created by employees or other individuals under the management of an owner or property manager
Who Are the Parties Potentially Liable in a Slip and Fall Case?
After you are in a slip and fall, your main concern will be your health, but you will also want to know who could be responsible for what has happened to you. Slip and fall accidents are mostly avoidable, especially in circumstances where it is not the actions of an individual that led to the accident but a factor in the environment that triggers an individual to slip, trip, or fall.
Property must keep their premises free from dangers that could injure an unsuspecting visitor or guest. A victim that suffers an injury in a slip and fall may have a case to recover compensation for their losses, and the party that is liable to you can vary depending on the facts of your case.
Parties that could have liability for a slip and fall accident include:
- The owner of the land, building, or business where the accident takes place
- An employer
- Property management company
How Do You Prove That a Party Is at Fault for Your Injuries and Damages?
Proving the liability of a party is one of the more challenging aspects of a slip and fall case. As the victim or plaintiff in a case, you must prove that the defendant’s action led to your injuries and rise to the level of negligence necessary under California law.
In California, property owners must keep their property in a condition that keeps visitors safe from harm. This can include the maintenance of the property, making repairs if there is a hazard or damage, notifying guests if there is a hazard present, and routinely inspecting the property to ensure there are no dangerous elements that could cause an accident. These obligations are the duty of care a property owner or manager owes to those that they welcome, invite, or allow on their premises.
Establishing Negligence in Slip and Fall Accidents
To prove that a party to your case acted negligently, you must meet all of the elements of negligence under California law.
The elements of a premises liability case necessary to establish that a party is at fault for your injuries are as follows:
- That the defendant in your case is the owner or manager responsible for the property in question
- That the defendant, either through their actions or failure to act, was negligent in the upkeep of the property
- You suffered injuries and losses
- Your injuries and losses are a result of the defendant’s negligence, meaning the defendant’s actions are the cause of your damages
What Are the Damages a Victim Can Pursue After a Slip and Fall Injury?
As a victim of a slip and fall injury, you can face many losses. At first, most victims of a slip and fall accident worry about the medical costs for the treatment of their injuries. ER visits, hospitalizations, and medical procedures are expensive. Even with health insurance, co-pays and deductibles can become significant financial burdens.
While costly medical expenses are rightfully a concern, a victim may soon realize all of the other losses and damages a slip and fall accident can lead to. Missing work to recover, your inability to be there for your family and fulfill your responsibilities, the draining emotional and mental pressures, and trauma you can experience in the aftermath of an accident are all losses that a victim is likely to sustain after an accident. If you are the victim of another party’s negligence, you may be eligible for compensation for many of these losses.
Insurance companies and at-fault parties do not want you to realize just how much of an impact a slip and fall accident can and will have on your daily life. In many instances, insurers will either try to place blame on you for the accident or will try to settle with you for mostly economic losses such as your medical bills. As a victim of a premises liability case, the law allows you to pursue recovery of all of your losses that arise from a negligent accident, not only the losses that an insurer is willing to pay you for.
You may recover the following compensation in a slip and fall case:
- Cost for medical care and treatment
- Loss of your current wages and the impact to future earnings because of your injuries
- Physical pain and suffering as well as emotional and mental pain and suffering that arise after an accident
- Damage to property that you may have had with you at the time of the slip and fall
Will Insurance Cover a Slip and Fall Incident?
Homeowners, business owners, and many other property owners carry insurance to protect their buildings and properties. However, many also carry liability insurance to protect themselves if someone suffers an unexpected injury on their property, such as a slip and fall.
In many slip and fall cases, a victim has the opportunity to file an insurance claim for damages that occur on another’s property. Similarly, in a lawsuit for a slip and fall, a victim will need to show an insurance company that a property owner or business owner’s negligence caused their injuries, which can be an obstacle, especially if you do not have representation from a slip and fall lawyer.
If insurance is available, you will need to file a claim to account for your damages. This is a complex process, and you should obtain a personal injury attorney with experience in premises liability cases to pursue compensation on your behalf. Insurers that offer coverage for slip and fall accidents will look for anything to try to discredit your claim.
From blaming your actions for your injuries to claiming your injuries are minor and insignificant, there are many strategies and tactics they will take to prevent a victim from getting the compensation they deserve after an injury.
When Can a Lawsuit Become Necessary for a Slip and Fall Case?
An attorney representing you in a slip and fall case will try to negotiate a settlement that accounts for most if not all of your losses with the insurance company. In most cases, this step is successful, and a claim resolution does not progress beyond this stage.
However, in some cases, an insurance company can resist accepting liability or is unwilling to meet the level of losses that a victim sustains with their settlement offers. In these situations, a lawyer will then need to file a lawsuit against the insurer to settle the dispute through civil court.
There is also the possibility that the party responsible for your slip and fall accident has no insurance. In this case, your options for recovery are likely limited to filing a lawsuit against the party personally in court if they cannot settle with your attorney directly for your losses.
Do You Need a Slip and Fall Attorney to Assist with Your Case?
There is no question that if you suffer an injury on the property of another party, that you will need the help of an attorney. You should hire a slip and fall accident attorney as soon as possible after a slip and fall.
Do not give any statements to an insurer or any other party to your case until you consult an attorney. Any opposing party can use a conversation, message, or statement regarding your slip and fall against you.