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Slip and Fall Accidents

A small trip can cause a big injury

Slip and fall accidents happen every day. Many of them are minor, but not all. Tripping on a loose floorboard, rolled carpet, electric wire, or faulty stair can cause serious, life-changing injuries. In fact, one out of every five falls causes serious injuries like broken bones, fractures, and head injuries.

Too often, trip and fall accident victims minimize their pain and are reluctant to come forward with insurance claims. Some blame themselves for injuries that were caused by a property owner’s negligence. Others may feel shame over their injuries — people falling and hurting themselves is frequently played for comedy.

Slip and fall injuries are no laughing matter and may lead to significant and lifelong injuries that require significant medical attention.

To make a full recovery and keep their families from falling into medical debt, it is important that trip, slip, and fall accident victims seek compensation for their injuries. Money for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other possible damages is obtainable through an insurance claim or civil lawsuit.

Who is at fault in a slip and fall accident?

When you go out to a retailer, grocer, museum, mall, restaurant, office building, or house party, the property owner owes you a duty of care. When someone is injured at a place outside of their home, it is usually the property owner’s fault.

States differ in what level of care is owed, but in general a property owner must:

  • Provide a reasonably safe environment
  • Inform guests when there is a known risk of danger
  • Fix, replace, or remove conditions that may cause injury

Property owners are also barred from creating situations intended to harm others — even if the person on the property is a trespasser.

What are slip and fall risks that property owners should fix?

In general, a safe environment is one free from obvious dangers. When there are known risks (or risks that should have been realized), the owner is usually responsible for fixing the problem, quarantining the danger, or at least informing guests of the possibility of injury.

Slips, trips, and falls have a wide variety of causes. Potential slip and fall situations a property owner usually must address include:

  • Wet or slippery floors
  • Toxic chemical exposure (causing dizziness or displacing balance)
  • Ice patches
  • Cracked or chipped flooring
  • Uneven or unsteady stairs
  • Carpet snags and exposed floor wiring
  • Cluttered hallways and aisles
  • Spills
  • Loose railings

What kinds of injuries are caused by slip and falls?

More than 2 million people go to the emergency room every year for treatment to slip and fall injuries, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Falls are also one of the leading causes of unintended death in the U.S.

Common trip and fall injuries include:

  • Broken wrist, arm and ankle bones
  • Hip fracture
  • Head injuries
  • Spinal cord or back injuries
  • Knee pain

Medical expenses to treat fall injuries requiring hospitalization cost about $35,000 on average.

What do I do if I have been in a slip and fall accident?

See a doctor. Whether it was at a shopping center, amusement park, bar, service provider’s office, or other place, if you were injured by a property owner’s negligence, the first thing to do is get medical treatment.

Collect information. If you are able, take pictures and video of your accident. Pay attention to the environment around where you were injured as well as the exact spot. Record related signage or where you would have expected to find a risk warning. Document your injuries, as well as your footwear and clothing.

Report it. Report your accident to the property owner and request an accident report. If the police arrive, obtain a copy of that report as well.

Keep all receipts. Maintain any records related to the accident, including receipts and medical reports.

Do not accept blame. In most cases, slip and fall accidents are the fault of the property owner, not the injured victim.

Just the facts. Situations can become tense after an injury-causing accident. Property owners will often seek to deflect blame onto the victim. When talking about your accident with the owner, police, or insurance adjuster it is important that you stick to the objective facts like names, dates, and places. Don’t make official or unofficial statements to the police or insurance companies before consulting with an established, reputable personal injury lawyer in your state. At the accident scene or hospital, it is perfectly fine to say that you are too rattled to provide a statement, but you will get back in touch with them soon.

Call a lawyer. After a slip and fall it is a good idea to consult with a personal injury attorney in your state. They can help you understand how the law applies to your situation and the value of your claim. Your legal representative will also handle accident-related paperwork, collect evidence to support your claim, and negotiate for the maximum settlement. If negotiations fail to produce the results you need, your lawyer can file a lawsuit seeking substantial compensation for your damages.

Why would I need a lawyer after a slip and fall accident?

If you do not get all the money you are owed after an injury, you could wind up paying out of pocket for expensive medical treatments when the pain flares up again in a few years.

Some slip and fall accidents seem cut and dried. Maybe you slipped in a puddle in a restaurant restroom or tripped on uneven flooring while shopping. It may seem obvious that the property owner is at fault for your injuries, but that doesn’t mean the owner will accept responsibility.

Your lawyer will fight for you to prove your claim and can shut down any false accusations a property owner might make to deflect blame.

Studies show time and again that people who hire lawyers receive larger settlements and verdicts than those who don’t. This is because insurance companies take advantage of victims’ unfamiliarity with state liability law and technically worded policies.

They can’t do that when you hire a knowledgeable lawyer.

Your lawyer will help you realize what it will really cost for you to make and maintain a full recovery. They will use their battle-tested negotiation skills to get you the maximum compensation for your claim.

Can I really afford to hire a lawyer for a slip and fall?

Almost certainly, the answer here is yes. Personal injury lawyers take accident cases on contingency. This means there will likely be no out-of-pocket expenses for you. When a lawyer works on contingency there is no retainer or hourly rate for you to pay. Your lawyer’s fee is calculated into the final settlement or verdict and paid for by the insurance companies.

Also, many law firms offer free case evaluations to injured accident victims. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

You don’t have to face the property owner and insurance companies on your own. Remember, the laws pertaining to slip and falls vary significantly from state to state, so it’s in your interest to talk to someone with experience winning these cases in your jurisdiction. Contact a lawyer in your state today.

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