Your Slip and Fall Questions Answered
Whether you are at a store or visiting a friend, slip and fall accidents can happen when you least expect them and can cause severe injuries. Proving negligence in these accidents and pursuing full compensation can be a challenge. Here are answers to some of the most common questions our slip and fall attorneys receive.
How do slip and fall accidents happen?
Although a person might slip and fall under normal circumstances, certain conditions make these types of accidents more likely. Some of the common causes of falls include:
- Materials, debris, merchandise, or other unexpected objects in walkways
- Wet, slippery floors
- Accumulated ice and snow
- Walkway damage, including cracks, holes, and uneven surfaces
- Poor lighting
- Damaged or uneven stair heights
What do you have to prove to win a slip and fall injury claim?
To successfully argue a slip and fall injury claim, you must prove certain elements:
- You were an authorized visitor on the property. (Trespassers are typically not allowed to file slip and fall lawsuits, except under certain circumstances.)
- You fell on the owner’s property due to a hazard that directly caused your specific injuries.
- The owner did not take reasonable measures to prevent or fix this hazard.
- The hazard was not open and obvious, so you could not have reasonably avoided it.
How do you prove negligence in a slip and fall case?
To prove negligence, you will need convincing evidence that there was a hazardous condition that the property owner should have prevented or fixed.
Typically, one of the best pieces of evidence is pictures of the accident scene precisely as it was when you fell. If you fell because of a walkway’s poor condition, a foreign substance on the floor, or an obstruction, get pictures of those hazards, along with photos of the surrounding area. This will help you show other vital factors to prove negligence, such as if there were not warning signs or the area was poorly lit.
Beyond pictures, expert measurements of the area, maintenance logs, and construction records are critical pieces of evidence, especially if a design issue caused your fall. For example, if you fell on a stairwell because the stairs were different heights, a construction expert can advise on whether the stair measurements met relevant building codes.
Additionally, a review of maintenance and repair records can help reveal when the owner knew about the hazardous condition and whether they tried to do anything to remedy the situation.
When should you hire a lawyer for a slip and fall injury case?
It’s crucial to hire a lawyer as soon as possible in a slip and fall injury case because these types of cases are difficult to prove. You should consider talking to an attorney right away if:
- You have suffered injuries that require more than first aid.
- You are missing time from work due to your injuries.
- You are in pain and cannot enjoy the same quality of life you did before your fall.
What are the benefits of hiring a slip and fall lawyer?
The primary benefits of having a slip and fall attorney are:
- Liability: A lawyer can help determine who is liable for your accident and gather evidence to prove they were responsible. This includes proving that the fall happened by no fault of your own and you could not have reasonably avoided this dangerous situation.
- Damages: An attorney can help prove that your injuries were caused directly by the slip and fall and can help demonstrate the severity of the injuries. Your attorney will document the total losses you have suffered as a result of your injury, as well as future damages you may experience.
Where do slip and fall accidents happen?
People can slip and fall in any location, but these accidents tend to be most common in areas like:
- Job sites
- Stadiums and theaters
- Retirement homes
- Hotels and inns
- Apartment complexes
- Private residences
Who is responsible if I am injured in a slip and fall accident?
Determining who is liable in slip and fall accidents depends on many factors. If the accident happened at work, then it is likely covered by worker’s compensation. If it occurred at a commercial location, the property owner and/or manager might be responsible. However, some commercial properties lease portions of their space or hire contractors to maintain the property, so these parties might also hold some liability.
Additionally, if you did something to contribute to the accident, such as talking on your phone while you were walking and missing a warning sign, you might be considered at least partially responsible.
What if I get hurt in a slip and fall accident at someone’s house?
If you were injured at someone’s house, you would need to prove negligence to file a claim with the homeowner’s insurance policy. Similar to falls at other locations, you must be able to show that the homeowner failed to prevent or fix an unreasonably unsafe condition.
What if I was trespassing or my child was trespassing when the fall happened?
Property owners are generally not responsible for injuries to trespassers, except in certain instances. For example, if the property owner purposely creates a danger meant to hurt trespassers, then they might be held liable for the trespasser’s injuries.
Another exception falls under the rule of “attractive nuisance,” which is when a property owner does not take adequate measures to protect children from a dangerous condition on their property. For instance, if someone does not install a fence around a pool, the property owner could be held liable if a trespassing child is injured or drowns in the pool. Similarly, if an owner doesn’t post warning signs about an aggressive dog or build a fence to contain the animal, the property owner could be held liable if the dog bites a child.
What steps should I take if I have been injured in a slip and fall accident?
If you have been injured in a slip and fall accident, the first priority is your health. See a medical professional as soon as possible after the accident to have your injuries evaluated. This will not only improve the chances that you can heal and avoid long-term medical issues, but the doctor’s report will be a critical piece of evidence if you file a lawsuit.
Next, it is important to fully document the incident:
- Report your injury to the property owner right away and ask for a copy of any formal report filed.
- Take pictures of the hazard that caused your fall and any surrounding areas or signs.
- Write down witnesses’ accounts of the incident and ask for their contact information.
- Make a log of anyone you talk to about the accident, including in medical appointments, and keep details of the person’s name, position, the date of your conversation, and the details of your conversation.
Do not publicly talk about the incident (such as on social media) or speak with the property owner’s insurance company without first contacting a lawyer. It is in the best interest of the insurance company to try to deflect blame from their policyholder because this will reduce or eliminate the amount they must pay you. Furthermore, if you fell at a commercial location, the owner will want to protect the company’s reputation. Because of this, the insurance company or the property might use anything you say to try to pick apart your account of the accident and pay you as little as possible.
What evidence will I need to receive compensation for my slip and fall accident injuries?
Visit a doctor as soon as possible after your accident to have your injuries evaluated. Inform the doctor of your accident and ask him or her to write a letter explaining what injuries could have reasonably been caused by the incident.
The doctor’s record of your injuries will be a critical piece of evidence to pursuing fair compensation for your slip and fall accident. You should also save all paperwork and receipts related to your medical care as you continue with follow-up treatment. Your attorney may also consult with medical experts to show how your injuries will impact you in the future.
How will my case be resolved after a slip and fall accident?
If you decide to make a claim with the property owner’s insurance policy, then the insurer will review your claim and evidence presented and decide if and how large of a settlement it will offer you. During this process, a skilled lawyer can negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf to show what full compensation should be.
If the insurance company refuses to offer a fair settlement, then you may file a slip and fall lawsuit and take the insurance company to court. Your lawyer will present a strong case at trial, but the insurance company may continue settlement negotiations up until the last minute. Your attorney can advise you on whether to accept a settlement offer or wait for a verdict.
Talk to a Slip and Fall Lawyer Now
If you have been injured in a slip and fall accident, the skilled attorneys at Ketterman Rowland & Westlund are ready to help you. We have what it takes to tackle even the toughest cases and have helped our clients recover millions of dollars for their injuries. Let us use our experience and resources to fight for you.
Call us today or contact us online to get your free consultation.