Slip and falls occur every day. Anyone can be involved in a slip and fall accident at any age, regardless of their health. Although slip and falls are quite common, the injuries from a slip and fall can range from bruises to broken bones, serious head trauma, and even death. Depending on the seriousness of their injuries, someone who was completely healthy may slip and fall and suddenly have to deal with physical and mental pain as well as financial difficulties.
Slip and falls are one of the leading causes of hospital emergency room visits with over 1 million visits a year. Fractures are the most serious consequences and occur in 5 percent of people who slip and fall. As many as 15,000 people over the age of 65 die every year as a result of a fall.
Injuries resulting from a slip and fall come with medical bills that may begin to pile up. Additional financial difficulty may come from the cost of long-term recovery and lost income from missed work. Filing a slip and fall claim is one option for the injured person to be compensated for their medical bills and other damages.
If you have been injured in a slip and fall or are experiencing difficulty covering the cost of your medical bills, it is important to know your rights as a slip and fall victim. This article will help you understand your rights and how to avoid mistakes in presenting your claim for damages.
What is a Slip and Fall Claim?
Slip and fall accidents occur when someone falls down as a result of the negligence of another and is injured as a result of that fall. A slip and fall may occur from the negligence of the person in control of the property. To prove another’s negligence, a plaintiff (the person who was injured and is filing the lawsuit) must show four things:
- The property owner had a duty to the injured person. When a property owner invites or authorizes others to come onto their property, they have a duty to their guests to provide a safe environment.
- The property owner breached their duty. A property owner may breach their duty by performing some act that creates an unsafe condition on the property or by failing to act to remove an unsafe condition that they knew or should have known about.
- The property owner’s breach caused the plaintiff to slip and fall. To prove negligence, the plaintiff must show that their slip and fall was the proximate result of the property owner’s act or omission and not the result of some other intervening cause.
- The plaintiff suffered actual damages as a result of their slip and fall. The plaintiff must show that as a result of their slip and fall, they actually suffered some physical, emotional, or financial harm.
Once a plaintiff proves that the property owner was negligent, the injured plaintiff may collect compensation for the expenses incurred from their injuries. These expenses may include:
- Medical bills
- The cost of physical therapy or rehabilitation
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
As a victim of a slip and fall on another person’s property, it is important to determine whether you have an actionable claim against the property owner. The attorneys at Foster Wallace, LLC, can help you determine the cause of your accident, who was at fault, and whether you can be compensated for your injuries. Call us today to discuss whether you have a case to bring a slip and fall claim.
Who Can Bring a Slip and Fall Claim?
Slip and falls can happen at any public place, which may include:
- Public pools
- Public roadways and sidewalks
- Parking lots and parking garages
Alternatively, slip and falls may occur on private property, which may include:
- Private homes
- Private swimming pools
- Privately-owned land
A slip and fall claim may exist if the injured person is lawfully on the public or private property when the fall occurs. A claim will be available in almost every situation when the fall occurs on public property, as long as the property was open at the time of the accident. When the fall occurs on private property, a claim may exist as long as the injured person was allowed to enter the property or was welcomed onto the property at the time of the fall.
If someone is injured while trespassing on public or private property, an actionable claim will not be available. A trespasser is someone who enters a place without permission or any legal right to be on the property. If someone falls and is injured while trespassing on someone else’s property without legal authority, they are barred from claiming that the property owner is liable for any injuries they may have sustained while they were trespassing.
Understanding the elements of a slip and fall claim is important to determine whether you should assert a claim for damages. It is equally important to understand what mistakes to avoid when you experience a slip and fall that could undermine your ability to assert a successful claim for damages.
What Should I Do Immediately After a Slip and Fall?
After a slip and fall, it is completely normal to try to get up as quickly as possible and leave the property. Like most people, you likely will feel embarrassed after your fall and will try to ignore any injury you may have suffered until you remove yourself from public view. However, doing this will only hurt your case. Not only may you be worsening your injuries, but you may be losing the opportunity to identify witnesses to the fall and preserve any evidence from the scene.
Here are some important steps to remember when you experience a slip and fall:
- Stay where you are. Even if your injuries do not feel significant, do not get up. Have someone who has witnessed the fall get help.
- Inform the appropriate people in authority. If you fall on public property, like a store, tell the store personnel what happened. It will be helpful to your case for someone associated with the property owner (such as employees, staff, or administrative personnel) to see where the fall occurred in real-time.
- Do Not Admit Fault. It is easy to feel like you are the clumsy one that caused the fall. But this may not be true. In many slip and fall cases, it is not the injured person’s fault. Instead, it may be the property owner who failed to keep the property safe. Avoid speaking to anyone about the circumstances of the fall, as you do not want your case to be affected by any initial statements made to witnesses or store personnel when you were embarrassed and possibly injured.
- Document What Happened. Take photographs at the scene of the fall before it is cleaned up. You will also want to write down everything you remember. Any information you remember and record may help establish the cause of the fall.
- Seek Medical Attention. Even if you do not think you are injured, you should accept any medical attention that is offered or seek medical attention yourself. Whether that is calling an ambulance or going to an emergency room after you leave, you want to be sure that any injuries you may have suffered are addressed immediately by a medical professional. Often injuries may not present themselves until hours or days later. Be sure to follow the advice of your medical professional once you are sent home.
These steps are important to take immediately after your fall. However, presenting a successful slip and fall claim also depends on the actions you take after your fall occurs and your injuries are treated. Here are some mistakes to avoid after your slip and fall.
What Mistakes Should I Avoid After a Slip and Fall?
After you collect yourself from your slip and fall and seek any medical attention that is needed, you will want to focus your energy and attention on recovering from your injuries. However, there may be other difficulties that lie ahead. These may include:
- Extended or difficult rehabilitation
- Missing work
- Paying expensive medical bills
- Dealing with insurance companies
- Preparing a lawsuit
Even if your recovery from your injuries is easy, the process of proving fault and damages from your injuries may be very difficult. There are many mistakes you can make along the way that make the process more difficult. Some common mistakes might include:
- Failing to keep records. Document, collect, and keep all records related to your case. This may include any photos, reports, emails, texts, receipts, and any other paperwork that could be used to prove the severity of your injuries.
- Waiting to file a claim. A big mistake that injured persons make is waiting to take legal action. It may seem easier to try to tolerate your injuries and pay for your resulting expenses on your own. But by failing to take legal action as soon as you are able, you run the risk of losing critical evidence in your case or even completely missing the deadline to file your claim. If you are injured from a slip and fall, you should take immediate legal action to preserve your right to be fully compensated for your injuries.
- Failing to consult with an attorney. If you have been injured from a slip and fall, you should consult an attorney immediately. Legal representation will provide you with the help you need to navigate the complex and time-sensitive legal proceedings that you will face. Trying to deal with the legal process while recovering from your injuries will be difficult and detrimental to your case. You need an experienced attorney who is qualified to take your case and will provide accurate advice on the best way to proceed. Your attorney will need time to assess your case, gather evidence, and prepare for trial. Investing in an experienced attorney will increase your chances of success without adding the unnecessary stress of trying to navigate the legal process alone.
- Speaking to the insurance company. The insurance company representing the property owner may try to initiate contact with you and offer compensation. Your insurance company may contact you as well. Remember that the insurance company is not on your side and is trying to pay you as little as possible to make your claim go away. The insurance company may try to reduce or deny the money owed to you based on what you say during your conversations with them. It is best to completely refrain from talking to insurance companies without an attorney, even if they try to convince you that they are just trying to help.
- Accepting a settlement offer too soon. If you are injured, you should never accept an offer from an insurance company without careful consideration and consultation with your attorney. Until you consult with an attorney, you likely will not know the full extent of the damages you may recover. The insurance company is going to offer you much less than what you are entitled to, and because you already may have medical bills to pay, any settlement offer may seem appealing. However, your attorney will help you determine and negotiate a fair settlement in light of your injuries.
Have You Experienced a Personal Injury in Kansas City?
If you've experienced a Kansas City personal injury, you should speak with an experienced personal injury attorney. Contact us online or call our Kansas City office directly at 816.249.2101 to schedule your free consultation.