There are many cases of personal injuries in our country, but slips and falls make up the second most common reason for such injuries after motor vehicle accidents. (Source: US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)). Every year, there are approximately 822 fatalities, along with numerous severe injuries (Source: OSHA). Often, it is not the victim’s fault, as many of these fatalities and injuries do not occur in one’s own backyard but take place on property belonging to someone else. A victim may encounter obstacles that are both a hazard and present a danger. When an accident victim slips and falls on someone else’s property and it is not their fault then they might be entitled to compensation from the property owner.
How often and where do they take place?
Almost three quarters of the falls are the result of dangers and hazards that are in our environment. These often occur:
- In poorly maintained workplaces, where floors are left dirty or slippery, such as in a factory or kitchen.
- Where wires such as those used to link computers often cause trip hazards
- On a sidewalk, where paving stones that have chips and holes in them frequently trip up pedestrians.
- In supermarkets and shopping malls that have not been cleaned, or the roofs leak in wet conditions leaving slippery puddles
- In areas of poor lighting, where hazards are difficult to see.
What happens when you slip and fall?
When you slip on a slippery substance you may fall over backwards as your legs are propelled forwards on the hazard. If you fall backwards, then damage to the back is likely to occur. If you trip over an obstacle, you are more likely to fall on your face. The first thing you may do is put your arm out to brake your fall. This could instantly lead to a broken arm. Whatever the movement, injury is a distinct possibility.
Does the law protect us?
There are laws in place that insist that all people who own property maintain that property so that other users are not in any danger of slipping or tripping over any obstacles when they are on that property. If there are any obvious hazards, then there should be warning signs to alert users of the property.
What happens if you are a victim of a slip and fall?
If someone is injured by slipping and falling on someone else’s property, then in order to obtain compensation they must provide proof that the property owner knew about the hazard, but failed to do anything about it. If the owner of the property or any of those working on the property caused a possible trip and fall hazard, then this should be passed on to other users of the property. If, however, a customer created the hazard by, for example, knocking a jar of jelly onto a supermarket floor and a customer slipped and fell cutting and injuring themselves, the victim must provide evidence that the property owner had enough time to remedy the hazard.
Another situation could be if, on numerous occasions, hazards were occurring on a property and were only intermittently fixed, causing frequent trip and fall hazards. If warning signs have not been displayed, then any victim of a slip and fall has a right to treat the property owner as negligent.
How should you act after a slip and fall accident?
First of all you must get medical attention for your injury, particularly as injuries left untreated could result in a worse outcome. If the injury is very severe, you may require an ambulance to take you to hospital. Once you have received the necessary treatment then you should verify what caused the accident. This may include ensuring you have photographic evidence. It is very difficult to prove anything if the evidence has disappeared. You should report the incident as soon as possible to the relevant person who owns or manages the property or place. The incident should be written down and handed over with details of the nature of the injury, when it took place and the names and contact details of any witnesses.
Once you have some details and proof at hand you should not delay any further, but contact a slip and fall attorney and ensure that your rights are upheld. The attorney will want to see some of the evidence and where the accident took place and make sure that the evidence is not erased by those responsible for the hazard. He or she will also know how important deadlines are when submitting a claim for compensation. If deadlines are not met then the whole case may not be valid.
What does a slip and fall lawyer do?
There are two important variables that a slip and floor lawyer has to prove. The first is the actual existence of a hazard and the second is if the property owner knew of the hazard or should have known about the hazard.
- The lawyer has to be quick to act to get the proof through:
- Inspecting the hazard at the alleged site
- Gaining concrete evidence of the hazard, which may include photographs
- Finding out if there are any witnesses who can vouch for the hazard.
- Finding out if it is long standing hazard
- Engaging the appropriate expert to ascertain whether the property owner has broken any laws.
Who Is Responsible for Your Slip and Fall?
A skilled attorney will know instantly who has to take responsibility for a slip and fall. For example, a slip and fall in a public school will be the responsibility of the local government, whereas one in a post office would involve the federal government. If the property is not well known and no one really knows who is the direct owner, then the attorney will check ownership records to establish the identity of the owner.
Compensation for a Slip and Fall
Once the negligent person or business has been confirmed, then a claim will be made which will include an amount for obvious pain and suffering, medical expenses to cover treatment, lost income and if the injury has caused a permanent disability any decrease in possible earning potential into the future.