Slip and fall accidents can cause serious injuries. According to the National Safety Council, more than nine million people are rushed to emergency rooms each year after experiencing a slip and fall accident. This figure averages to approximately 2,000 people being injured in a slip and fall accident each day in the United States.
Slip and fall accidents are the leading cause of injury for people over the age of 24 years old. They are also the second leading cause of non-fatal injuries for individuals aged 10 to 24 years old. Statistics show that one-third of all people over the age of 65 fall each year and run the highest risk for serious injuries. Slip and fall accidents are also the leading cause of work-related injuries and fatalities.
When a slip and fall accident occurs because of the negligence of a property owner or business manager, victims can claim compensation for their injuries through a premises liability or personal injury lawsuit. Proving that the slip and fall accident was the direct result of the carelessness or negligence of another can be difficult for the plaintiff.
Common Causes of Slip and Fall Accidents
Slip and fall accidents frequently occur for a variety of reasons. They sometimes result from the victim’s own carelessness or recklessness, but when they happen due to the carelessness or negligence of another, victims can claim compensation to cover medical bills and, in some cases, pain and suffering related to their injuries. The most common causes of preventable slip and fall accidents include:
- Wet or slippery floors
- Torn carpet
- Uneven floor surfaces
- Chipped tile
- Broken stairs or handrails
- Poor lighting
- Liquid spills
- Obstructed walkways
- Cracked or broken sidewalks
- Unmarked wheel stops in parking lots
- Snow and ice left on sidewalks, stairs, or parking lots
- Black ice
- Poorly maintained ladders or scaffolding
- Low ceilings
Property owners, including residential homeowners, have a legal responsibility to maintain their property through regular inspection and routine maintenance. Negligent property owners and managers can be held liable for slip and fall injuries.
Common Injuries Resulting from Slip and Fall Accidents
Slip and fall accidents, even from low-lying surfaces, can result in catastrophic injuries, such as:
- Brian injuries, such as Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
- Head injuries, such as a fractured skull or concussion
- Neck injuries, including whiplash
- Shoulder and arm injuries
- Spinal injuries
- Back, hip, and knee injuries
- Foot and ankle damage
- Sprains and strains
- Broken bones
- Cuts and lacerations
- Burn injuries
- Soft tissue damage
Slip and fall accidents often cause a combination of injuries. Falling onto a hard surface, such as asphalt and tile, produce the most serious injuries, but falling on softer surfaces can still cause serious damage.
What Legal Obligations Do Property Owners Have to Prevent Slip and Fall Accidents?
All property owners have a legal responsibility to keep their real estate free from unnecessary risks and hazards. These responsibilities include:
- Routine inspection
- Maintenance and repair of structures on the property
- Removal of snow, ice, and debris from parking lots and sidewalks within a reasonable amount of time
- Ensure proper lighting on stairways, parking lots, entrances, and exits
- Keep walkways free from debris, electrical cords, and toys
- Mark low ceilings and uneven surfaces
- Place warning signs on wet or slippery floors
- Clean up spills on wet floors in a reasonable amount of time once the property owner or manager becomes aware of the situation
- Provide rugs or waterproof mats in wet entryways
- Paint wheel stops in parking lots with bright or reflective paint
- Fix potholes or uneven surfaces as soon as possible
- Repair torn carpet or broken floor tiles immediately
- Ensure stairways are marked appropriately with reflective tape or signs
Failure to take the steps necessary to prevent slip and fall accidents can leave property owners and businesses liable for injuries and damages.
What to Do If You are Involved in a Slip and Fall Accident
As with any type of accident, assess all injuries and call for emergency medical assistance, if needed. Once a slip and fall accident victim is stabilized, it is important to gather pertinent evidence. There are several ways to do this:
- Call for the property owner or business manager to come to the location where the slip and fall accident occurred.
- If possible, do not move the victim until the police or property owners arrive.
- Take pictures and video of the accident scene, the position of the victim and any obvious injuries, and of the area surrounding the scene of the accident.
- Gather witness testimony and contact information. When possible, video of the witness testimony can be very helpful.
- Keep receipts and records of all medical intervention related to the slip and fall injuries.
- Seek counsel from an experienced and reputable lawyer.
A knowledgeable slip and fall lawyer will be able to review the details surrounding the accident and determine the best legal strategy for claiming compensation for injuries and damages.
What Types of Compensation are Available for Victims?
When a slip and fall accident occurs, victims can claim compensation for a variety of losses, such as:
- All medical expenses related to the slip and fall injuries, including current and future expenses
- Lost wages due to recovery periods or disability
- Loss of future earnings due to permanent disability
- Pain and suffering related to the slip and fall accident
- Miscellaneous expenses, such as gas needed to go to doctor and therapy appointments
A competent slip and fall lawyer will be able to assess how much compensation is available and work to claim the maximum amount their client is legally eligible to receive. The lawyer will also stand up against corporate legal teams and insurance companies that often try to deny liability or reduce compensation.
Proving Negligence in a Slip and Fall Lawsuit
The most important part of any slip and fall lawsuit is proving that a property owner or business manager’s negligence was directly responsible for your injuries. The plaintiff must show:
- The property owner or business manager created the dangerous environment that resulted in injuries.
- The property owner or business manager knew that the danger existed and failed to fix the problem in a reasonable amount of time.
- The property owner failed to recognize or address the dangerous condition of the property when it would be expected from a person in their position.
These points of proof are vital to a successful claim in a premises liability or personal injury lawsuit. Hard evidence is needed to support the claim. It is common for homeowners, retail properties, and business establishments to deny charges of negligence. The plaintiff must be prepared to provide evidence through photographs, video, witness testimony, and financial records or safety reports. An experienced slip and fall lawyer will know what evidence to provide and how to meet all filing deadlines.
What is the Comparative Negligence Rule?
The comparative negligence rule applies fault to all that may be responsible for a slip and fall accident. Not all states apply this rule, but for those that
do, compensation can be affected when a victim of a slip and fall accident is found to be partially responsible for their injuries. If the victim’s negligence in a slip and fall accident is found to be 50 percent or greater than the defendant’s negligence, compensation will be denied. If the victim is less than 50 percent responsible for causing the slip and fall accident, the victim’s compensation will be reduced to cover their portion of negligence.
For example, a victim with a broken leg may be found to be 30 percent responsible for their accident and injuries. If the award is $10,000, the victim’s compensation would be reduced by 30 percent to cover their negligence or carelessness, resulting in a $7,000 award. An experienced slip and fall lawyer will protect their client’s legal rights and ensure that their liability for the accident is reduced to the lowest possible percentage.
Rely on the Experience of a Competent Slip and Fall Lawyer
Injuries from a slip and fall accident can be costly. Medical doctors, diagnostic testing, physical or cognitive therapy, prescription medications, and lost wages can quickly devastate a victim’s financial health. Families of these victims also suffer when lost wages are combined with high medical bills.
Consulting with an experienced slip and fall lawyer is essential to claiming the maximum amount of compensation available for injuries and damages sustained in a slip and fall accident. Knowing what pertinent evidence to gather to prove negligence on the part of the property owner and meeting strict filing deadlines can be overwhelming for a victim to navigate. A competent lawyer will ensure that injured victims and their families claim the compensation they deserve and are legally entitled to receive.
New Jersey Slip and Fall Lawyers at Ellis Law Represent Victims of Slip and Fall Accidents
If you or someone you know was injured in a slip and fall accident due to the carelessness or negligence of another person, you may be entitled to compensation. The New Jersey slip and fall lawyers at Ellis Law are dedicated to claiming the maximum amount of compensation available to their clients. Call us at 732-308-0200 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation today. Centrally located in Freehold, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout East Brunswick, Toms River, Middletown, Jersey City, Neptune, Hudson County, Union County, Essex County, and Ocean County, as well as Brooklyn and New York, New York.