Slip and fall cases are also known as premises liability cases. Slip and Fall Settlement cases occur when those responsible for keeping a public area safe for customers or clients fail to do so, and as a result of this negligence, someone slips, trips or falls and is injured. This type of injury can occur almost anywhere, from a yard, to a mall, to a restaurant. Dangerous conditions may result from a temporary condition, such as a spill on the floor, or they may be a more permanent part of the area, such as an unsafe structure or a hole in the ground. Injuries resulting from this type of accident are often relatively minor, but occasionally, they can be severe and life-altering. In some cases, damages may be awarded. A good lawyer can discuss your rights in this type of case with you and ensure that the property owner is held to the standard of care required by law. Refer to Hertz Law for more information on filing a claim.
Property owners in general have a duty to keep the area safe and secure. Places that are open to the public for the purpose of transacting business are typically held to a higher standard of care than areas that are considered less public. For example, owners of a retail store or restaurant are held to a higher degree of care in keeping the premises safe than a private home owner. In areas where children are frequently present, property owners have a higher degree of care to keep the premises safe, because young children are less likely to realize the danger present than adults. If there is a dangerous condition that the property owner knows about and is not readily observable to a person who is on the property, the property owner must take steps to warn of the hidden danger. For example, if a floor is wet, employees frequently post signs to warn customers that the floor is unsafe to walk on, and to use caution or avoid the area.
Proving a Slip and Fall Case
In order to prove a claim in a slip and fall case, the plaintiff must be able to prove that the property owner was negligent in some way. For example, if floor workers in a store failed to clean up spilled water or slippery food and didn’t warn the customers that the area was dangerous to walk on, their negligence that could easily lead to an accident. Other dangerous conditions may be a more permanent feature of the area, such as a hidden hole in the ground where a person who cannot see the hidden danger can easily fall or twist an ankle. If you have suffered from this type of accident, preservation of evidence is very important, as property owners can make the area safer after an incident occurs before the claim is filed. Witnesses in slip and fall case can also be critically important, as they may testify as to the condition of the area at the time of the accident. An experienced attorney can help track down the evidence needed and making sure it is not lost.
Documenting Your Claim
If you experience an injury as a result of an unsafe condition on someone else’s property, one of the first things you should do, if possible, is make a report of the incident. If you are inside a store, for example, do not leave the area without asking to speak to a manager and asking to file an incident report. If you have a cell phone equipped with a camera, it is also a good idea to take photos of the area, if the condition that caused your injury is visible in photos. Also make sure to get contact information for any witnesses who are available, especially any other clients or customers who reported the incident to personnel within the store or business. This can prove that the employees knew that the area was unsafe but did nothing to correct the condition. Provide your attorney with all of this information so that further investigation into your case can be conducted if necessary.
Another aspect of documenting your claim is to make sure that all of your injuries are properly treated. It is never a good idea to ignore symptoms in a case where you have been injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, because once you accept a settlement, you can no longer make a claim for problems that arise later on from the incident. Therefore, make sure that you receive adequate medical treatment for your injuries. If possible, go to a doctor or emergency room right away for a proper diagnosis.
Damages You Can Be Compensated For in a Slip and Fall Case
The types of damages you can be compensated for in a slip and fall case typically include medical expenses, pain and suffering, missed time from work, and compensation for any permanency of your injuries or change in your quality of life since the incident occurred. Pain and suffering can be measured in terms of severity according to the pain you are subjectively experiencing, as well as how the pain limits your daily life activities. Pain medication is one form of evidence that a doctor has been treating you for pain. Your doctors will also likely ask that you rate your pain level in terms of severity and ask that you limit certain activities, which may prevent you from working during your course of treatment.
Loss of future earning capacity differs from lost wages or the loss of your job. Lost wages are calculated based on the time you missed from work due to the injuries you experienced, while loss of future earning capacity is based on the type of work you are able to do since your injury. For example, if you previously had work experience that involved very physical jobs that required you to be on your feet standing and walking for most of the day and you experienced a permanent knee injury that doctors believe will prevent you from being able to do that type of work in the future, you may have suffered a loss of future earning capacity. Likewise, if you suffered a head injury as a result of your slip, trip, or fall and are mentally unable to concentrate or perform the tasks mentally that you used to do as part of your employment, you may have a claim for loss of future earning capacity.
How a Good Attorney Can Assist with Your Slip and Fall Case
In many cases, premises owners will try to deny liability, in order to avoid paying damages. A plaintiff in a slip in fall case must prove that the property owner was negligent in some way, or that those responsible for keeping the area safe knew or should have known of a dangerous condition and failed to take steps to correct it. The defense may claim that the person who was injured should have known that the area was dangerous, or that employees or owners were not negligent because there was no way they could have known the area was unsafe. They may even blame a person who was injured for their own injuries or try to make it seem as if the injured person is exaggerating their claim or had prior injuries before the incident. A good attorney will strive to hold property owners responsible to the applicable standards of law. An experienced attorney can help gather evidence needed to build your case. A good lawyer will also use the most appropriate legal strategies to build your case, as different laws apply to different types of property. In some cases, a settlement will be offered prior to trial.
To discuss your case, contact Eric J. Hertz and set up an initial consultation. It is important to contact a lawyer as soon after the incident as possible, to ensure that important evidence can be gathered, and to preserve your rights.