At some point in your life, you may experience a slip, trip, or fall accident. What makes these situations worse is not only the possible risk of injury but because they are caused by the negligence of others.
These scenarios can happen at any time and any place. That’s why it’s important to have an idea about slip and fall law and what to do in case you get into an accident.
In this post, we’ll provide a short guide about what slip and fall accidents are and what you should do when they happen.
What Is a Slip and Fall Accident?
The term “slip and fall” is one that is used in personal injury law wherein an individual is injured by slipping or tripping on someone else’s property. A slip and fall case normally falls under the umbrella category of cases called “premises liability” claims.
A slip and fall accident often happens on the property (or premises) of another individual. When these events occur, the property owners can be held responsible by law.
What makes slip and fall accidents frightening is their unexpected nature. These circumstances can happen suddenly and victims can suffer serious consequences to their well-being.
Some of the most severe injuries in slip and fall accidents include traumatic brain injury (TBI), broken hip bones, and damage to the spinal cord. Besides the pain and suffering, they also have to deal with the medical expenses that come after. The worst outcome in a slip and fall accident is death.
To give you an idea, the following are locations where slips and falls commonly happen:
- Areas with poor lighting
- Messy walkways, hallways, and aisles
- Wet and slippery floors or naturally slick surfaces
- Faulty ramps and staircases
- Damaged surfaces such as broken floorboards or loose tiles
- Low-quality scaffolding and ladders
You can likely find hazards in these locations:
- Business offices
- Arenas and stadiums
- Parking lots and sidewalks
- Public parks and amusement parks
- Construction sites
- Private homes
- Retirement homes and nursing homes
What You Should Do After Your Slip and Fall Accident
Experiencing a slip and fall injury is something that can happen in an instant. Due to its unexpected nature, you might be afraid and confused about what to do next.
It’s common for us to feel this way. However, it’s more important to know that what you do following such incidents can affect your chances of receiving fair compensation for your losses under slip and fall law. That’s why it’s vital to know the best practices to perform not only to protect yourself but also your ability to recover via a successful slip and fall claim.
Here are the main things you need to do after a slip and fall accident:
Get Information From Witnesses
Witnesses play a vital role in verifying the series of events that lead to slip and fall injuries. When slip and fall cases occur at commercial properties, the customers that were present at the time can be used as witnesses.
Anyone who has witnessed the accident can provide a statement, so it’s best to approach and ask these individuals. You should also get their contact details, if possible, in case you need to contact them later on.
The best witnesses are those who saw the slip and fall accident from start to finish. They should have the capacity to supply all of the information leading up to the event.
You should request them to specifically state the details of your accident as much as possible. You can also ask them to write the information down for later use.
Getting a personal testimony from one or more witnesses can be pivotal in a slip and fall lawsuit. Such details can help back up your claim of what actually happened in your case.
Don’t Say Anything – Don’t Take Any Blame for the Accident
Unless you have a slip and fall law expert at your side, never agree to provide a recorded statement to the property or business owner, especially the insurance company working for them. This is because they only aim for one thing: to disprove slip and fall claims so that they can get away with their negligence.
When these individuals ask for a statement from you, they aren’t being your friend and will not give you a fair evaluation of your injuries. The good news is that the law doesn’t require victims to provide these recorded statements.
Get Medical Help
Getting medical attention is essential for your well-being while also being one of the first steps in building your case. You want your healthcare provider to give you all the needed diagnostic tests as a serious injury can be missed.
Adrenaline can easily hide severe medical concerns and there are some injuries that may not present symptoms right away. Make sure your doctor performs the appropriate examinations to ensure there is no serious risk of additional complications caused by the accident.
Make sure you document everything that has happened concerning your slip and fall accident. You can start by writing down your version of the occurrence and include any information you feel is necessary. You should also include the names of individuals involved and witnesses.
Furthermore, you should seek and secure a detailed report from the responding police officer. Getting a physical copy of such records can contribute significantly to your case. Make sure that you limit your communications with the owner of the property until you have obtained legal representation.
As mentioned above, this is primarily because anything you say can be used against you in your case. When providing information to the police officer, you should be honest yet neutral. You should only provide them with direct facts of everything that happened leading to the accident.
Report the Injuries
Having the appropriate documentation ready after a slip and fall injury can be extremely beneficial for such cases. Going to a doctor immediately will result in having an expert take note of any injuries and record them.
As stated earlier, the defense isn’t your friend. They will do their best to dismiss any injuries you have sustained. They may even claim that the damage you have was obtained from another occasion. When you head to the doctor right away, you can prevent this from happening by having a physician provide proof of your injuries.
Injuries that you sustain, such as concussions and broken bones, will take time to heal. Make sure you keep all medical documents and records as these will help support your slip and fall claim.
Call an Attorney
On many occasions, the defendants or their insurance companies will offer to pay for your medical expenses, and in return, you will not sue them. Although these people may sound like they are offering a fair deal, they aren’t actually looking to pay the true value of the damages they have caused, especially if serious injuries have been sustained.
They may offer to pay for your initial medical treatment, yet many of these injuries will require additional medical care down the line. Who will pay for such expenses then?
Instead, you should get in touch with an experienced attorney right away. A lawyer who is well-versed in slip and fall law knows how to handle these situations. Getting advice on what to do next from an expert is one of the best things you can do for your case.
Why You Should Hire an Attorney
Slip and fall accidents in New York are a serious matter that tends to be complicated. That’s why you need to consult with a licensed personal injury attorney to help you navigate your way around the various processes involved in slip and fall law.
When you don’t have the appropriate legal representation, you can easily make mistakes that will cost you your lawsuit. You might end up getting minimal compensation for your troubles or even have your case dismissed.
Here are the main reasons why you should hire a slip and fall lawyer as soon as possible:
Securing Vital Evidence
Having as much evidence as possible increases your chances of providing compelling support for your slip and fall accident. When you only have little evidence to show, proving liability for your case is going to be difficult.
In many such cases, the defendant has significantly more control and hold concerning the evidence since they own the property where you had the accident. That’s why you should secure vital pieces of evidence immediately.
Having a personal injury lawyer at your side can provide you with the legal right to access all of the evidence you’ll need in your case.
Handling Insurance Adjusters
Major insurance firms will only look out for themselves and not for others. As a fall accident victim, these entities will try to limit providing as much compensation as possible.
The opposing party, along with their insurance adjusters, will not help you with your personal injury claim. That’s why you should only deal with them with the right legal representation.
Your personal injury attorney will ensure that the insurance company prioritizes your claim. Your lawyer will also fight on your behalf by preventing insurance adjusters from taking advantage of you while working to give you a fair settlement.
Contributing To Proving Fault
It’s simply not possible to expect compensation for your slip and fall injury when you can’t prove that the negligence of the other party resulted in your accident. Proving negligence is essential and you can only do this once you have established fault.
Negligence in this instance means that the property owner has failed to take the necessary steps to ensure that their location is safe for public use. What constitutes negligence in a slip and fall accident will vary and depend on various facts involved. Of course, if the property owner acted carefully then they wouldn’t have been the reason for the accident in the first place.
Given how complex these issues can be, having a licensed and qualified slip and fall attorney at your side can significantly simplify the whole process while helping prove liability.
Slip and fall attorneys help accident victims receive fair and full compensation for their injuries. However, recovering from such an incident will be next to impossible if you can’t prove your losses.
In slip and fall law, injured victims are entitled to financial relief that is equal to the value of their troubles. Such cases allow you to seek appropriate compensation for both non-economic and economic losses.
That’s why working with slip and fall lawyers is necessary. These experts will help document your pieces of evidence and the damages you incurred during the accident. All these things essentially contribute to proving your losses.
What Compensation Is Possible With a Slip and Fall Injury?
A slip and fall case often leads to the injured victim receiving two forms of compensation. The first is called general compensatory damage and accounts for the initial experience. The second is called special compensatory damage and this encompasses all current and future financial losses caused by the injury.
General compensatory damages include things such as pain and suffering, mental anxiety, and loss of companionship. These are the types of damages that you can claim based on how such problems have negatively affected your life.
The majority of injury cases in a slip and fall accident will involve compensation for pain and suffering. Meanwhile, severe cases usually lead to mental anxiety or loss of companionship due to the incident.
On the other hand, special compensatory damages include current and future medical bills, lost wages, lost earning capacity, legal expenses, and incidental expenses. Such compensatory damages are designed so that you can be reimbursed for the costs you’ve incurred because of the accident.
The party liable for your injuries will also be responsible for the cost involved in your recovery. That’s why you should calculate these expenses accurately so you can receive fair compensation. You should also look into lost time from work and any instances of hindering your ability to earn after being injured.
Factors That Determine Liability in a Slip and Fall Case
Determining liability in a slip and fall accident is straightforward. The process looks into these 3 primary responsibilities that contribute to liability:
Duty of Care and Maintenance
One of the first responsibilities considered in a slip and fall case is the duty of care and maintenance. This means that venues need to ensure that all areas on their premises are safe for human beings to access.
It requires venue owners to maintain their establishments so that wear and tear and disrepair don’t lead to hazards. Steps for proper maintenance during certain climate conditions, such as ice-salting, need to be done to prevent accidents.
Property owners should also address the following:
- Floors that are badly maintained
- Any ridge, gap, or pit in their floors
- Dangerous transitions
- Unmarked liquid spills
Duty To Provide Clear Cautionary Signage
The next responsibility is for the business or property owner to provide appropriate signage concerning known hazards in their location.
For instance, having a clear sign that warns of wet floors is a good indication that the venue owner has provided an appropriate warning concerning an unsafe area. But, if the sign was difficult to spot in the first place, people walking by won’t know that the floor is slippery.
That’s why business owners need to make sure that their signage isn’t only present but also easy to see. In case an area is hazardous, they should provide signs, cones, or even tape to warn people.
Putting signs in a distance far away from the hazard isn’t sufficient and often means liability for an injury.
Negligence is when property owners ignore hazards willfully and let people walk through dangerous areas. In court, negligence is determined when the venue owner was clearly aware of the situation yet has chosen not to take sufficient action to address it.
One example of negligence by procrastination is when the owner schedules an investigation but hasn’t marked the area as hazardous.
Another way to determine negligence is when the venue owner or its employees clearly caused the damage but have failed to fix it to prevent future accidents from happening.
How Much Time Do I Have To File a Slip and Fall Lawsuit?
People in New York who have been injured in a slip and fall incident have up to 3 years before their ability to file a lawsuit expires. The law that determines such a time limit is called the “statute of limitations” and it applies in every court case.
It’s essential that you file your case within the given deadline or you won’t have a chance to do so eventually. This 3-year statute will start counting down from the date the accident happened.
This means that you’ll have sufficient time to recover from any injuries sustained. However, you should do your best to obtain as much evidence early on. Consulting with an attorney experienced in slip and fall law is imperative at this point.
Keep in mind that the given time is just the limitation on when you should file a case in court. So long as you have filed your complaint within 3 years of the accident, you should be fine.
What Happens If I Miss My Deadline To File a Case?
The biggest consequence of missing your deadline to file a slip and fall case is losing your ability to receive compensation for your losses. The statute of limitations clearly states that it only allows lawsuits that were filed within the given time.
Any case filed after the deadline has a high chance of being rejected. This is especially true since the defendant will most likely bring up the statute of limitations as part of their defense against your complaint.
Adding additional parties later on to your lawsuit, even if you filed your case within the given time, may not be possible. This is because the statute applies to each negligence count as well as to each defendant included in the case.
For example, if you choose to sue a tenant of a building and decide later on to include the actual owner, then it might not be possible. Adding the building owner as a part of your slip and fall lawsuit, at this point, could be too late.
The Pagan Law Firm Can Fight for You
Have you experienced a slip and fall accident recently? If so, then you need to get in touch with an experienced slip and fall personal injury lawyer in New York immediately.
Normally, injury cases that happen within premises are litigated since liability is often disputed. The attorney of the accident victim files a lawsuit against the responsible party in order to provide fair compensation for their client. The goal here is to cover any and all expenses they have incurred such as medical bills and pain and suffering.
It’s not easy to determine who is at fault in a slip and fall accident. That’s why in litigation, your legal representation will be given an opportunity to prove that you are rightful to receive compensation via your claim.
In case you or your loved one has suffered from slip and fall injuries, then you shouldn’t hesitate to contact the appropriate law firm.
Pagan Law Firm specializes in providing legal representation for personal injury and medical malpractice cases. For more than 30 years, we have helped countless individuals receive fair compensation for their slip and fall accidents.
Our team has handled cases in the cities of Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Westchester County, New Jersey, and New York. If you’re located in one of these areas, then we’d gladly guide you in your claim.
We know how devastating it can be to experience such troubles caused by a slip and fall incident. We’re ready to provide answers to any inquiries you have and help you receive the compensation that you deserve.
Give us a call at 212-967-8202 for a free consultation!