What is a slip and fall claim?
Not all slips, trips, or falls warrant a claim, even if you are on someone else’s property. Slip and fall claims are valid when a person trips due to hazardous conditions that a property owner could have prevented. It is the duty of the property owner to maintain safe premises for visitors. If they fail to do so, they can be held liable for the victim’s injuries and required to pay compensation.
To recover damages for a slip and fall claim, you must prove that the property owner is responsible for your injuries. That means proving that your injuries occurred as a direct result of their failure to maintain safe conditions.
Conditions That May Cause a Slip and Fall
Slips occur as a result of poor traction, while falls are the result of losing one’s balance or tripping over a hazard. There are many hazards that can cause slips and falls that we face every day.
Some of the most common conditions that lead to slip and fall injuries are:
- Icy or Rainy Weather
- Loose Stairs
- Uneven Walkways
- Wet, Greasy, or Oily Surfaces
- Unanchored Floor Mats
- Poorly Lit Walkways
- Debris in Walkways
- Wrinkled Carpets
- Opened Cabinets
- Blocked Views
- Inconsistent Slope in a Surface
- Missing Handrails
Important Things To Know About Your Slip and Fall Case
According to the National Floor Safety Institute, falls account for over eight million emergency room visits every year. Of those eight million visits, one million are because of a slip and fall. With so many individuals experiencing these accidents, it’s vital that people are aware of their rights following a slip and fall.
If you have been injured in a slip and fall that was caused by a property owner’s negligence, you are entitled to collect damages. To collect these damages, you have to file your lawsuit within two years of the date of your injury. A West Palm Beach slip and fall lawyer can ensure that your case is filed on time.
If you wait until after the two years, it’s unlikely that the court will try your case.
To support your case, be sure to keep records of everything that occurs. You will need to collect evidence from the scene of the fall, maintain a record of receipts for your medical visits, make notes of all correspondence with insurance companies and legal teams, and follow your doctor’s orders. Keeping records gives your attorney the evidence to support your case against the defendant and whatever outlandish claims they may make to shift liability.
For more advice on how to handle your slip and fall case, get a free consultation with an expert attorney at Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath today.
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What To Do After a Slip and Fall
Slip and falls are extremely common in the United States. That’s why you need to be prepared for what happens after your fall. Follow these four steps after your accident to ensure your wellbeing and your rights to damages.
1. Seek Medical Attention
Slip and falls can cause significant injuries. You may feel some in the moment, such as fractures, but others, such as bruises or sprains, may take hours to appear. Get evaluated by a doctor within 48 hours of your accident to prevent exacerbating any injuries.
2. Notify the Property Owner
The property owner needs to be made aware of your accident. Have them fill out an accident report and give you a copy. You will need this report for your claim.
3. Collect Evidence
After a person falls, the property owner may take steps to hide the issue or change the scene. It’s important to collect evidence, including photos of the accident, to prove your case. Keep all receipts, the clothing and shoes you were wearing, proof of lost wages, and contact information of any witnesses to back up your claim.
4. Contact a West Palm Beach Slip and Fall Lawyer
Property owners will almost always dispute slip and fall claims. They cover up hazards, downplay injuries, and shift responsibility to the victim. A specialized lawyer will give you the best chance of winning your claim and receiving damages.
Common Injuries in a Slip and Fall Accident
Slips tend to cause individuals to fall backward as they lose traction. This leads to tailbone injuries and even head injuries. Trips, on the other hand, send victims forward. Humans reflexively use their hands to try and stop such a fall, causing hand, wrist, arm, and shoulder injuries.
Common injuries as a result of a slip and fall are:
- Lacerations or Contusions
- Fractured Tailbone
- Hand or Wrist Injuries
- Ankle or Foot Injuries
- Broken Hip
- Shoulder Injuries
- Traumatic Brain Injury
- Facial Injury
- Knee Damage
- Spinal Injury
How hard is it to prove negligence in a slip and fall case?
Duty of Care
A duty of care is a responsibility that an individual has toward others in society. In the case of a slip and fall claim, the property owner has a duty to keep their property safe for visitors. They must maintain the premises to a reasonable standard and remove any dangers as soon as possible.
This is an established duty of care; however, it will need to be restated in court to show that the defendant had a responsibility toward the plaintiff. Without this responsibility, the property owner would not be liable for the safety of their premises.
Once an attorney has proven that the defendant caused the plaintiff’s injuries due to their breach of duty, the court can award damages. Damages are monetary rewards at the end of a trial to help support the plaintiff through their recovery and to penalize the defendant.
There is no explicit formula to determine how much compensation an individual could receive for a slip and fall case. It varies based on the amount of the plaintiff’s medical bills and other damages, the severity of their injuries, and the type of negligence the defendant exhibited.
Breach of Duty
Once the plaintiff has proven that the defendant has a duty of care toward them, the plaintiff must prove that they breached this duty. The fact that the property owner did not maintain safe premises for visitors by leaving hazards laying about or not repairing dangerous issues, such as loose flooring, means that the defendant breached their duty to the plaintiff.
The plaintiff will also need to prove that any repairs not undertaken by the defendant could have been remedied before the accident. For example, if a bottle of olive oil spills in a grocery store and someone immediately slips in it, the owners had no reasonable time to remedy the issue.
However, if they did not clean it for hours or days, or did not do a complete job of cleaning it, they would be liable. This is because the property owners had time to assess the dangerous situation and could have repaired it long before the accident.
The plaintiff must prove that the breach of duty on the part of the defendant is the direct cause of their injuries. They would need to prove that the spilled oil in the grocery store caused them to slip, which led to them breaking their arm.
Causation is often disputed in slip and fall cases. The defendant will claim that the injuries were not caused by the slip and fall on their premises. They may even deny that the hazard that caused the fall existed. This is why it is vital to collect evidence at the scene to prove the existence of the hazard and your injuries from the fall as reported by a medical doctor.
An experienced West Palm Beach slip and fall lawyer will help you craft a case that follows these procedures to prove causation and get you maximum compensation.
What qualifies as a slip and fall lawsuit?
A slip and fall lawsuit is valid if the victim fell due to dangerous conditions on a property owner’s property. The plaintiff must prove that the defendant had the ability to remedy the obstacle or condition that led to the plaintiff’s fall, and that they did not meet the reasonable duty of care by not repairing the issue.
To file the suit, the plaintiff must determine who is liable. Is it the property manager? A specific employee? A landlord? Once this has been determined, a motion can be filed to seek damages from the party that caused the plaintiff’s injuries.
What damages may be claimed in a slip and fall lawsuit?
According to the National Floor Safety Institute, slip and fall injuries amount to $14 million per year in the United States. Victims shouldn’t have to pay for an accident they didn’t cause. Economic damages cover medical costs and any other financial costs that a victim accumulates as a result of their injuries.
These include medical bills, prescriptions, loss of wages due to recovery time, prescriptions, rehabilitation and treatment costs, and any specialty care you may require.
There is no way to quantify the amount of emotional suffering due to slip and fall injuries every year. However, emotional suffering is just as devastating as a physical injury. The courts recognize this and award non-economic damages to victims of slip and fall accidents who suffered due to pain, embarrassment, anguish, anxiety, and/or loss of enjoyment of life.
Punitive damages are awarded in cases of intentional wrongdoing. These are extreme cases of negligence where a property owner went out of their way to create an unsafe environment for visitors.
Punitive damages are supplemental to economic and non-economic damages. They are meant to penalize the property owner for their actions and to dissuade them or anyone else from repeating their negligent acts.
How long does it take to settle slip and fall claims?
As with any personal injury case, slip and fall claims are based on a variety of factors that influence the length of a claim. While some claims can take as little as a few months to be settled, others go into heated trials that take years.
Your attorney will be able to provide the most accurate timeline for how long your slip and fall case might take to be settled. They can best estimate this after going over the details of your case, contacting the property owner through a civil complaint or a demand letter, and determining the property owner’s response to your claim.
Some may assist victims in their recovery without adding additional stressors. Others are combative and willing to take your claim to trial, making your West Palm Beach slip and fall lawyer a necessity. Their expertise allows them to defend your case with up-to-date knowledge of the ever-changing personal injury legal landscape in Florida to get you the maximum compensation.
What should I ask a slip and fall lawyer?
There are various slip and fall lawyers in West Palm Beach. However, they are not all made equal. To determine the best slip and fall lawyer for your case, ask them questions about their education, experience, and fees.
The following questions will help you determine if a lawyer is right for you:
- Can you win my claim?
- What can I do right now to help my claim?
- What should I say to my insurance company?
- What is the value of my claim?
- What challenges do you foresee?
- How long do you expect my case to take?
- How many slip and fall cases have you won?
- Who will be working on my case?
- What is your current caseload?
- How can I contact my legal team?
What is the average settlement for a slip and fall lawsuit?
The settlement amount for a slip and fall case varies. They are primarily dependent on how the slip/fall occurred and the severity of the victim’s injuries. To find out how much your slip and fall claim is worth, contact a West Palm Beach slip and fall lawyer today.
Contact a West Palm Beach Slip and Fall Lawyer Today
If you or a loved one have been injured in a slip and fall accident in West Palm Beach, our dedicated team at Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath are here to help. We are dedicated to making a painful accident less arduous. Let us make the complexities of a slip and fall trial feel simple.
Call (561) 655-1990 today for a free consultation. Our knowledgeable representatives can address any questions or concerns you may have about your case.
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Slip and Fall Questions and Answers
Why do I need a slip and fall lawyer?
Although you do not legally need a slip and fall lawyer to try a personal injury claim or lawsuit, they are a great asset. Slip and fall cases are extremely difficult to negotiate. The burden of proof is on the victim to determine who is liable, to prove their liability, and to propose the number of damages they’re entitled to. This area of the law is ever-changing. No two cases are the same, meaning that you cannot rely on precedent to help argue your case.
A dedicated West Palm Beach slip and fall lawyer knows Florida’s personal injury laws. They can ensure that your case is filed before the statute of limitations expires and create a strong case for liability that can withstand the opposing side’s rebuttals. They will not leave money on the table. A slip and fall lawyer will ensure that you claim the maximum amount of damages and get higher compensation than you could on your own.
Will insurance companies compensate for slip and fall?
Most individuals have a home insurance policy with a slip and fall clause built in. Similarly, business owners typically have liability insurance to assist in paying for slip and fall victims on their premises. However, their insurance company may be unwilling to pay the victim the full amount to which they are entitled. Insurance companies prefer to offer smaller settlements to avoid going to trial while maintaining their bottom line.
If an insurance company offers you a settlement that is too small, you do not have to accept the compensation. You can continue to negotiate or file a legal claim for damages. Get assistance from a West Palm Beach slip and fall lawyer from Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath.
Should I involve the police in my slip and fall claim?
It depends on the severity of your slip and fall accident. In most cases, the police will not be required to attend the scene of your accident. As most slips and falls do not constitute criminal charges and can be resolved without the assistance of the police, calling them is unnecessary.
You do not need a police report to file a slip and fall claim. You will need an accident report from the property owner that you can send to your insurance, but this can be resolved without the police witnessing it.
In rare cases, you may need the police to attend the scene. Use your discretion to determine what is appropriate for your accident. You can determine this based on the severity of your injuries and the behavior of the property owner. If anyone is belligerent or badly bleeding, the police may be required to attend with or without an ambulance.