Steven A. Bagen | November 5, 2023 | Personal Injury
Slip and fall accidents may occur indoors or outdoors, on public or private premises. When an individual strikes the ground with a significant amount of force, they may suffer broken bones, soft tissue injuries, spinal cord damage, head injuries, and other serious medical complications.
In addition, they might need to miss time from work so that they can receive the medical treatment that they need, thereby losing significant income.
Premises owners must maintain their properties in a reasonably safe condition for the benefit of property visitors. Therefore, if you sustained injuries in a slip and fall accident on another person’s property, you can hold the property owner or their insurance company legally liable.
Additionally, depending upon the nature and extent of your injuries, you may receive monetary compensation and damages.
One of the most important steps that you can take after suffering injuries in a slip and fall accident is to retain a skilled slip and fall accident attorney who can represent you throughout the entire legal process. Your lawyer may file a personal injury claim with the property owner’s insurance company.
Additionally, your lawyer can aggressively negotiate with insurance company representatives in pursuit of the favorable monetary damages that you need. If the insurance company refuses to compensate you fully and fairly for your injuries, your lawyer may file a lawsuit.
Most importantly, throughout the process, your attorney can offer guidance and answer all your legal questions and concerns. Your lawyer will do everything possible to maximize your overall monetary damage award so that you become whole again after your slip and fall accident.
If you suffered any of these injuries in a slip and fall accident, report the incident to the proper person. Seek medical help as quickly as possible after your accident. More importantly, follow through with all recommended medical treatments and complete your prescribed treatment regimen.
For example, you may need surgery. You may need to meet with your primary care doctor, or consult an orthopedic doctor regarding your injuries. Following a medical procedure, you might need physical therapy to return to full functionality.
While you focus on attending your medical appointments, your slip and fall accident attorney can start advocating for you. Specifically, your lawyer may begin investigating your accident and assembling a settlement demand package on your behalf.
Upon completion of your medical treatment, your lawyer may forward this settlement demand package to the premises owner’s insurance company, seeking settlement compensation for your injuries.
Duty of Care Owed to Property Visitors
The duty of care that a premises owner owes to a property visitor depends upon the visitor’s status on the property at a particular time.
According to state premises liability law, there are two types of invitees — public invitees and business invitees. A public invitee is an individual whom the property owner invites to enter or remain on a particular piece of property as a member of the public.
Common public invitees are individuals who visit a hospital or use a public recreational facility or park.
On the other hand, a business invitee is someone the property owner invites onto the premises for a specific purpose. Business invitees enter a property to shop at a store, visit a theme park, or patronize a bar or restaurant.
Property owners generally owe public and business invitees the highest level of protection. Specifically, they must maintain their premises in a reasonably safe condition for the benefit of their invitees and either warn about or correct hazardous conditions on the property that the property owner is aware of or should be aware of.
In property law, classifying individuals on the premises is a recognized concept in many jurisdictions. An invited licensee refers to an individual the owner invites onto the property as a social guest. Property owners owe these individuals the same legal duty of care as invitees.
Conversely, an uninvited licensee enters the property for their convenience without an invitation from the property owner. For instance, a door-to-door salesman who enters someone else’s property without an invitation might constitute an uninvited licensee. Property owners must refrain only from wanton or willful injury of uninvited licensees.
Moreover, a trespasser, recognized in many jurisdictions, refers to an individual who enters the premises without permission from the property owner. In most cases, property owners do not owe a duty of care to a trespasser except to refrain from wanton or willful injury. However, the property owner must exercise a certain degree of reasonable care for child trespassers and warn about known dangerous conditions on the premises.
A knowledgeable slip and fall lawyer in your area can determine the duty of care applicable to your case. They can also determine whether the premises owner violated their legal duty to you, resulting in your slip and fall accident and injuries.
Successfully Proving a Slip and Fall Claim or Lawsuit
To recover monetary compensation and damages for injuries suffered in a slip and fall accident, the accident victim must satisfy their legal burden of proof:
- They must establish that the property owner owed them a legal duty of care based upon their status on the premises at a particular time.
- They must establish that the premises owner acted unreasonably under the circumstances or breached their legal duty of care. In most cases, the property owner failed to warn about or correct a known hazardous condition. For example, in a grocery store or restaurant, a store manager might have known about a spill on the floor yet failed to place a warning placard in the vicinity or clean up the spill within a reasonable timeframe.
- The injured accident victim must show that the slip and fall accident occurred as a direct result of the property owner’s negligent behavior.
- They must demonstrate that their claimed injury or injuries directly resulted from the property owner’s negligence.
To establish the legal burden of proof in a slip and fall case, your lawyer can retain several experts to testify as witnesses.
First, an accident reconstructionist can investigate the circumstances of your slip and fall accident by visiting the accident scene, reviewing photographs of the damage, reviewing security footage, and speaking with witnesses.
The accident reconstructionist may then prepare a report that describes their findings and conclusions, including how the slip and fall accident likely happened and who was responsible.
Additionally, a medical professional can physically examine you and testify, based upon a reasonable degree of medical certainty, that your injury or injuries directly resulted from the accident. A medical professional may also establish that you suffered one or more physical injuries in your slip and fall accident.
Filing an Injury Claim With the Premises Owner’s Insurance Company
After sustaining injuries in a slip and fall accident, you might be eligible to file a personal injury claim with a property owner’s insurance company. Many businesses have large liability policies if a slip and fall or other premises accident occurs.
When you file a claim, your lawyer will include various documents that may later serve as evidence in your case. Those documents may include medical treatment records, medical bills, police investigation reports, statements from witnesses, security camera footage, photographs of your injuries, and the incident scene.
The insurance company will then review all these documents and decide whether to accept fault for the accident.
If the insurance company admits that the property owner was at fault, then the adjuster may contact your attorney with a settlement offer. However, in many situations, insurance companies forward unreasonably low first-time settlement offers. Therefore, your lawyer may need to negotiate with the adjuster several times before they increase their settlement offer to a reasonable number.
During settlement negotiations, your lawyer can downplay any weaknesses in your case while highlighting its strengths. Those strengths may include favorable reports, medical evaluations, and other documentation.
If the insurance company still refuses to offer you a favorable settlement, your lawyer may file a lawsuit in court on your behalf.
Litigating a Slip and Fall Claim
Whenever your lawyer files a personal injury lawsuit in the state court system, that step begins the litigation process. However, at some point along the way, your legal matter may still settle.
Meanwhile, once your lawyer files suit, the court will impose deadlines that the parties must follow, including a deadline for discovery completion.
During discovery, the parties will answer written questions, call interrogatories, and sit for a deposition. Your attorney can prepare you for the questions that a defense attorney may ask during a discovery deposition. Your lawyer can also represent you at settlement conferences and other in-court proceedings.
If your case does not settle, you may take it to a civil jury trial. At that point, a jury will decide the monetary compensation to award you for your slip and fall injuries. Your lawyer can also pursue one or more types of alternative dispute resolution, or ADR, such as binding arbitration or mediation.
At a binding arbitration hearing, an arbitrator will listen to witness testimony, review evidence in the case, and decide the amount of monetary compensation to award the slip and fall accident victim.
Recovering Monetary Damages for Slip and Fall Injuries
Because every slip and fall accident case differs, the amount of monetary compensation that an accident victim may receive will differ from case to case.
Generally, the more serious an accident victim’s injuries, the better their chances of receiving a high settlement offer or litigation result.
Factors that may affect the monetary damages an accident victim receives include the nature and extent of their injuries, the circumstances surrounding their accident, and the overall cost of their medical treatment.
Common monetary damages may include payment of past and anticipated medical costs, loss of earning capacity, lost income, loss of use of a body part (such as from paralysis), lost quality of life, loss of spousal companionship and consortium, inconvenience, past and anticipated pain and suffering, permanent disability or disfigurement, and lifetime or long-term care costs.
Your lawyer can ballpark the settlement or verdict value of your slip and fall case, enabling you to develop realistic expectations. Your attorney can then file the appropriate claim or lawsuit to recover the monetary damages you deserve.
Speak With a Slip and Fall Accident Lawyer Near You Today
If you recently sustained injuries in a slip and fall accident on someone else’s property, time is of the essence. The revised state statute of limitations gives accident victims only two years from their accident to file a lawsuit for monetary compensation.
Absent skilled circumstances, if the accident victim does not file their lawsuit within two years, the court will prevent them from recovering any monetary damages for their injuries. Therefore, quickly retain experienced legal counsel who can represent you in your case.
A skilled personal injury attorney can promptly investigate your accident, file a claim with the appropriate insurance company on your behalf, or litigate your case to a fair resolution. Your lawyer will do everything possible to maximize your total monetary damages so that you obtain the closure and justice that you need and deserve in your case.