How Should Victims Handle a Slip and Fall Accident?
Slip and fall accidents can cause serious injuries and even death depending on the situation. According to the National Safety Council, more than nine million people are taken to emergency rooms each year after experiencing a slip and fall accident. This figure averages to approximately 2,000 people being injured each day in the United States.
Slip and fall accidents are the leading cause of injury for people aged 24 years and older. 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. Public properties and private buildings or campuses must be kept in good condition to prevent injuries, but these locations are not always managed properly.
Proving that the slip and fall accident was the direct result of the carelessness or negligence of the owner or manager can be difficult for the plaintiff. The New Jersey slip and fall lawyers at Ellis Law will provide clients with a high level of client care, along with the assurance that we are doing everything we can to help them obtain the compensation they deserve.
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 recklessness. Some situations are simply unfair, and we will let our clients know if there is not enough evidence to pursue a claim. When these accidents occur as a result of the negligence of another, victims can claim compensation to cover medical bills and, in some cases, pain and suffering related to their injuries. Because slip and fall accidents occur in many ways, it helps to understand when it is dangerous to walk in a certain area, how to prevent these accidents, and who is most likely to get hurt. The most common causes of preventable slip and fall accidents include the following:
Wet or slippery floors: These floors often cause injuries for people who are walking through retail or commercial buildings. Floors must be kept in good condition and should be clearly marked when they are wet. If a property owner or business manager has not made any effort to keep the floor dry, they could be held liable for their negligence.
Torn carpet: Torn carpet can trip anyone who is walking through an office. The carpeting could be pulled up by someone who has fallen, and they might even be injured by the tacks that hold the carpet down.
Uneven floor surfaces: Uneven floor surfaces include tiles that are pulling away from the subfloor or planks on a boardwalk that have pulled away from the substructure. Any uneven surface is dangerous to walk across, and these floors should be repaired as soon as possible.
Chipped tile: A chipped tile can trip anyone if the groove in the floor is deep. Patching the hole or replacing the tile helps resolve this problem quickly.
Broken stairs or handrails: Broken stairs or handrails could cause people to fall off the stairs, fall down the stairs, or fall through an open gap in the stairs. Stair rails that are wobbly or too light for the amount of foot traffic in the area should be replaced or reinforced as soon as possible.
Poor lighting: Poor lighting can cause people to trip and fall because they do not see the steps around them. Poor lighting could also cause visitors to trip over obstacles, run into walls, or walk into other people. When both people fall down, the impact will be much greater.
Liquid spills: Liquid spills in warehouses and commercial facilities are common, but they should be cleaned up as soon as possible. The company should invest in proper cleaning materials and the area should be blocked off until visitors can walk safely again.
Obstructed walkways: Obstructed walkways may seem simple to avoid because visitors can walk around or find a different way to go. Foot traffic, however, might dictate that people need to keep moving forward. When companies and municipalities do not properly mark these areas and provide alternate routes, they could be liable for any damage or injuries that might occur.
Cracked or broken sidewalks: Although people are asked to use sidewalks, they could be in poor condition. The sidewalk needs to be kept in good condition. The city or municipality can also be held liable if someone slips and falls into the street and is struck by a car.
Unmarked wheel stops in parking lots: Although wheel stops in parking lots might help with traffic flow, they need to be marked so that visitors walking through the parking lot do not trip over them. Wheel stops should also be repainted when they begin to turn gray.
Potholes: Potholes are dangerous for cars, but they can be just as dangerous for pedestrians if someone trips and falls on the road.
Snow and ice left on sidewalks, stairs, or parking lots: Snow and ice should be removed from all sidewalks and stairs. Some cities require residents to clean the sidewalks outside their homes, and cities must take care of all sidewalks where people do not own or rent homes.
Black ice: Black ice can be a menace for anyone who is walking on the side of the road or across a parking lot. These surfaces need to be checked daily to avoid serious injuries.
Poorly maintained ladders or scaffolding: Anyone who falls off ladders or scaffolding could be injured or even killed. These structures need to be in good condition; this might require daily inspections due to heavy foot traffic.
Low ceilings: Low ceilings in homes, commercial facilities, businesses, and municipal buildings need to be marked clearly or raised when possible. If people do not know that they need to duck, they could be injured when walking through the building.
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. A slip and fall lawyer can investigate the case to determine why the facility or public space was not maintained properly, hold the appropriate parties responsible, and explain how negligence occurred.
Common Injuries Resulting from Slip and Fall Accidents
Slip and fall accidents, even from low-lying surfaces, can result in catastrophic injuries. When these injuries occur, victims should receive immediate medical care. Although some of these injuries seem to be minor, they need to be reported and treated by a doctor so that they do not worsen over time. Injuries such as these need to be taken seriously. Workers’ Compensation should pay for these injuries if they occur at the workplace. People who are injured on public or private property can recover damages, and they should not live with the debilitating pain and anxiety that these injuries cause. Common injuries from slip and falls include the following:
Brain Injuries: Falling onto a hard surface, such as asphalt and tile, produces the most serious injuries. Brain injuries can cause a lifetime of mental and physical problems.
Head Injuries: Fractured skulls can cause swelling and a long recovery. Victims might experience headaches and have a difficult time maintaining their balance. Some of these injuries could result in disability, which is why victims should be treated quickly, even if they experience a fall from a low height.
Neck injuries: These injuries can cause a lifetime of shoulder pain and discomfort. Shoulder and arm injuries need to be treated as soon as possible, and people who experience this level of pain might not be able to work, drive, or focus during the day. Victims often lose sleep because the pain is severe.
Back, hip, and knee injuries: These injuries should be treated before it becomes difficult to function during the day or sleep. Spinal injuries could result in paralysis, and that is why it is important for victims to go to the hospital immediately to know if they need corrective surgery, if they need to rest for long periods of time, or if they have pinched nerves that make it difficult to function.
Foot and ankle injuries: These injuries also make it difficult to walk. People who are on their feet all day should receive care as soon as possible so that their foot or ankle heals properly.
Broken bones, sprains, and strains: These injuries need to be treated by a doctor as soon as possible. Although broken bones can be painful, some people do not realize that they have a chipped bone or hairline fracture. Therefore, it is important for victims to go to the hospital and seek medical attention. Routine X-rays can show any breaks that may have occurred.
Cuts and lacerations: These injuries might seem minor, but they can become infected. These injuries can cause problems that cost money, time, and even put people out of work.
Burns: Burns should be treated quickly as the pain and recovery involved can be intense.
Soft-tissue injuries: These injuries might be difficult to see but can cause long recovery periods. Additionally, internal bleeding may occur, which can cause serious illness or even death. Seeking medical treatment is a good way to eliminate the possibility any internal injuries that may have occurred.
What Legal Obligations Prevent Slip and Fall Accidents?
As mentioned, all property owners have a legal responsibility to keep their facilities free from unnecessary risks and hazards. Also, private homeowners need to keep their homes in good condition. Public buildings should be maintained by the owner or the government agency that manages the building, and construction sites must be maintained by the owner properly. These responsibilities include the following:
- Routine inspections of the space to ensure that there are no safety hazards.
- Maintenance and repair of structures on the property that could cause injuries. This could be something as simple as tacking down loose carpet or checking the floorboards on the boardwalk.
- Removal of snow, ice, and debris from parking lots and sidewalks within a reasonable amount of time. If the building or facility has a maintenance crew, they should do this first thing in the morning.
- Ensure proper lighting for stairways, parking lots, entrances, and exits.
- Walkways need to be kept free from debris, electrical cords, and toys.
- Low ceilings and uneven surfaces should be marked with a prominent sign.
- There should be prominent warning signs for wet or slippery floors.
- The property owner or manager must clean up spills on wet floors in a reasonable amount of time once they become aware of the situation.
- Rugs or waterproof mats that are made from non-slip substances should be used in wet entryways.
- Wheel stops in parking lots should be painted with bright or reflective paint; a paint that is a different color than the lines in the parking lot should be selected.
- Potholes or uneven surfaces need to be repaired as soon as possible.
- Torn carpet or broken floor tiles should be repaired or replaced immediately.
- Stairways need to be marked appropriately with reflective tape or signs.
These items may seem small, but they can prevent serious accidents. Businesses have a responsibility to take care of their large properties, and homeowners should not have guests visit if they know the home is not safe. These issues might have existed for some time, and we might find evidence of previous accidents that did not go to court. We may also find that the company has a track record of poorly maintaining its facilities. Although some of these repairs are inexpensive, companies will often do anything to save money. They often count on the fact that victims do not know they can sue for what seemed like an accident that was no one’s fault.
Failure to take the steps necessary to prevent slip and fall accidents can leave property owners and businesses liable for injuries and damages. A slip and fall lawyer will review the circumstances of the case, ensure clients share any evidence they have, and review statements from medical professionals in the wake of the accident.
What Should I Do After a Slip and Fall Accident?
As with any type of accident, someone should 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, the victim should not be moved until the police or property owners arrive.
- Pictures and video of the accident scene should be taken, including the position of the victim and any obvious injuries, as well as the area surrounding the scene of the accident.
- Witness testimony and contact information should be gathered. When possible, video of the witness testimony can be helpful.
- Receipts and records of all medical intervention related to the slip and fall injuries should be kept.
- The victim should seek counsel from an experienced and reputable lawyer.
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:
- Medical expenses: When we begin any case, we need to know how much it will cost to recover. Our primary concern is with the recovery of our clients.
- Lost wages: We will calculate the amount of work that was missed and determine how much money the client would have made in the distant future if they had not been hurt.
- Pain and suffering: We can request when the quality of life of the client has declined significantly since their accident.
- Miscellaneous expenses: We will also look at other expenses that might have incurred while the client was trying to recover, such as has expenses when traveling to and from doctor appointments and physical therapy.
A competent slip and fall lawyer will be able to assess how much compensation their client is legally eligible to receive. A 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 the client’s injuries. The plaintiff must show the following:
- 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.
Proof is vital to a successful claim in a 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. We need to provide a paper trail of evidence that explains how the property owner or manager was negligent. Some situations are very unfortunate, but negligence may not have occurred. A slip and fall lawyer will explain if the case has merit before proceeding after a consultation.
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 greater than 50 percent, 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 the accident. 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.
Clients can 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.
Complaining to the property owner is ineffective in most cases. Negligent entities that know they are in the wrong will turn away calls and ignore any complaints that come in. We can file a claim against the business or entity that they will take seriously. Clients should not try to represent themselves in court and expect that a large business or government entity has several attorneys on its side.
At the same time, some accident victims might hear from lawyers or insurance companies that would like to close the case as quickly as possible. When this happens, clients should send all information to us. Victims should never talk to these people or sign anything without speaking to a lawyer first. We know that this can be a confusing time, but clients need to be careful because they do not want to lose the leverage they have after an accident.
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 is needed to prove negligence on the part of the property owner and meeting strict filing deadlines can be challenging for a victim. A competent lawyer will ensure that injured victims and their families claim the compensation they are legally entitled to receive.
New Jersey Slip and Fall Lawyers at Ellis Law Represent Victims of Slip and Fall Accidents
The New Jersey slip and fall lawyers at Ellis Law are dedicated to claiming the maximum amount of compensation available to their clients. If you or someone you know was injured in a slip and fall accident as a result of the carelessness or negligence of another person, you may be entitled to compensation. 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.
1. We Assemble Your Legal Team
You will be assigned a team of seasoned attorneys and dedicated support staff who take the time to listen to you and learn every detail about your accident. Your team will be available 24/7. You will never be left in the dark about the status of your case!
2. We Investigate
Next, we collect all available evidence including medical records, insurance policies, police reports, witness testimony, dashcam footage, security video, and more. We will thoroughly investigate all available evidence to build a solid case.
3. We Demand and Negotiate
We will then send a demand letter to the other party stating the facts of your case and the amount of compensation sought. We will negotiate aggressively to strike the best deal as fast possible, without going to court.
4. We Litigate When Necessary
If negotiations do not produce the compensation you deserve, we will go to court. We are trial lawyers, fully prepared to litigate on your behalf!
5. You Do not Pay Unless We Win!
We have a track record of success. You will never pay a fee for a personal injury case unless we win. CONTACT US TODAY!