Slip and fall accidents can result in serious and even life-threatening injuries depending on your individual situation. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the number of recorded work-related fatal falls had been steadily increasing over the years, to a new high of 244,000 in 2019.
Slip and fall incidents are a leading cause of injury for people over age 65. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that “each year, 2.8 million older people are treated in emergency departments for fall injuries.” These types of injuries can occur anytime and anywhere, affecting people of all ages and backgrounds.
Slipping and falling can leave you with potentially significant or debilitating injuries. If your injury took place at a business or on another person’s property, a slip and fall lawyer can help you prove negligence in the case to receive justice and compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and the pain and suffering you have endured.
What is a Slip and Fall Case?
Slipping and falling doesn’t mean you were being clumsy or were focusing on your phone. Often, the property owners may be to blame. If a property owner was aware of a problem and failed to remedy it, resulting in your injury, they can be held responsible.
Some of the most common reasons why people slip and fall include:
- Uneven floor surfaces
- Poor stair design
- Building/construction code violations
- Wet or slippery floors
- Poor or inadequate lighting
- Liquids on the floor such as water or oil
- Foreign objects obstructing a walkway
- Torn or pushed up carpeting
- Icy conditions, with slick ramps or stairs
- Obstacles jutting out into walkways
- Unsecured, stay wires and cords
- Missing or broken stairs or handrails
- Not warning customers/visitors of known hazards that can’t be fixed immediately
While these are common reasons for slipping and falling, a slip and fall accident can happen any time and anywhere. Unfortunately, many property owners won’t admit responsibility; they may try to convince you that the accident was your own fault. At Lowman Law Firm, we are committed to getting the justice you deserve. After all, you shouldn’t have to suffer through the pain, miss time at work, and pay for medical treatment if you weren’t at fault!
Common Slip and Fall Injuries
While some slip and fall accidents may simply damage your pride, others can leave you with serious injuries. Some of the most common injuries include:
- Broken bones and bruises
- Soft tissue or internal organ tissue damage
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
- Spinal cord injuries (SCIs)
- Sprains and strains
If you or a loved one suffered from these or other injuries in a slip and fall as a result of a property owner's negligence, contact a Lowman Law Firm slip and fall accident attorney today.
Types of Slip and Fall Lawsuits
To seek justice and money in a slip and fall case, it’s critical that you can show another party’s negligence. This happens when the property owner breaches a duty of care, which means that they failed to maintain “the measures that a reasonable person would take to reduce the risk of harm.”
In a slip and fall case, a property owner must either have been aware of the hazard and failed to fix it or should have been aware of the hazard had a proper inspection been performed. That means that if a jar of mayonnaise falls to the floor in the grocery store seconds before you slip in it, you typically cannot claim the owner liable.
Of course, that gives unscrupulous property owners an “out”; they may simply claim the hazard had just occurred and they didn’t have time to fix the situation. So let’s go back to our last example.
Say that broken jar of mayonnaise had actually been on the floor for half an hour. Within that time, a store employee should have noticed it or been alerted to it and cleaned it up. If you claim it had been there for a while, our team can help you collect evidence that proves your care (video surveillance, store policies, testimony from witnesses, etc.).
5 Considerations for Your Slip and Fall Lawsuit
Most of us have tripped a time or two, but usually, we just brush it off. However, if it caused injury and the property owner was negligent, you may want to speak to a slip and fall attorney at Lowman Law Firm. Somethings to consider after a slip and fall:
1. Was the Property Reasonably Safe?
It is important to understand that owners do not have to keep their property “perfectly safe,” but rather just “reasonably safe.” For example, following a snowstorm, a property owner generally must clear the snow and ice that customers/visitors will use. However, they don’t have to be “perfectly dry” or “perfectly clear,” this would become a nuisance. There is some responsibility on the part of the customers/visitors to tread more carefully following a snowstorm.
2. Did an Unsafe Condition Exist?
You can’t create a case if you simply slipped or stumbled on someone’s property. Rather, there needs to be an unsafe condition that the owner was aware of or should have been aware of, such as snow and ice, wet or slippery floors, damaged sidewalks, etc. The landowner must have also either caused the unsafe condition or allowed it to persist.
3. Did the Property Owner Have Time to Correct Unsafe Conditions?
Property owners are entitled to a reasonable amount of time to discover unsafe conditions. Consider our jar of mayonnaise from earlier. Again, after it breaks in the aisle of the grocery store, a manager or employee needs time to discover the mess, collect a mop, and return for cleanup. The amount of notice an owner has can be difficult to prove, but nowadays surveillance cameras at many stores and businesses have made this determination much easier.
4. Was a Warning Sign Clearly Posted?
Sometimes, a condition occurs that can’t be fixed immediately. For example, a sidewalk under construction, a flooded bathroom, a recently-mopped floor that’s drying. In these instances, property owners need to alert the public with “caution” signage or cones, or by roping off the area. If they failed to do this and it resulted in a slip and fall, reach out to our slip and fall law firm.
5. Is This Really Something You Want to Pursue?
How serious were your injuries? Making a claim with a property owner’s insurance company can be time-consuming, and if you’re not able to resolve the claim with the insurance company you’ll need to file a lawsuit. So, if you sustained minor bruising or a sprain that didn’t require medical treatment or time off work, you may not want to go through the hassle of either. However, if your injury was more serious, you should definitely proceed.
Benefits of Hiring a Slip and Fall Lawyer
Not all personal injury incidents require a personal injury attorney, especially when you can start by making a claim against another person’s insurance (for example, a minor fender-bender). However, the majority of slip and fall cases require representation. Why?
- Who’s at fault in a slip and fall isn’t always clear
- Property owners and their insurance company don’t like to accept legal responsibility unless the liability is obvious
- Property owners and their insurance company will likely argue that your injuries aren’t as bad as you claim
So if you can’t prove who was at fault, and the property owner and their insurance company claim they were to blame or that you’re exaggerating your injury, what can a lawyer do to help?
Your Lawyer Can Establish Fault
A fall can happen in an instant, and some people may not remember the details of how they went from walking up some stairs to laying on their back on the ground. Your lawyer will go to the scene of the accident to investigate exactly how your injury occurred. In this same example, they’ll get to the bottom of questions that could come up later, such as:
- Did you actually miss a step?
- What kind of shoes were you wearing?
- Did you trip on your own clothing (such as a coat strap or shoelaces)
- Were you carrying anything that might have affected your balance?
- Were you using the handrails (if they were available)?
- Were you distracting while walking (looking elsewhere, or at a phone)
- Were the steps of varying heights?
The investigation will also include:
- Reviewing state, federal, and local laws to determine if property conditions violated any statute or regulation
- Consulting with and retaining experts as necessary
- Requesting copies of store/business policies and any surveillance footage
Your Lawyer Will Prove Your Losses
Proving your injuries requires documentation. Your lawyer will help you obtain and complete any forms, including:
- Lost income documented through employment records
- Medical records and bills, plus potential future medical expenses stemming from the injury
- Non-economic losses, like pain and suffering
How Much Will a Slip and Fall Lawyer Cost?
This is a quick one: At Lowman Law Firm, we work under a contingency fee agreement. That means that we don’t get paid until we win your case (that’s how sure we are that you’ll receive justice). Payment can be taken from any settlement or jury award, so you never have to dip into your bank account.
Your Next Steps for Your Slip and Fall Case
Following a slip and fall accident, there are a number of steps you should take for your personal and financial well-being.
1. Seek Help Immediately
Slip and fall accidents can have resulting complications – from simply being sore to severe head trauma, spinal cord injuries, and bone fractures. It’s important to have this checked out as soon as possible. By seeing a doctor, you’ll also be documenting your slip and fall injury. These medical records will be integral to building a potential case since they will prove the timing of your injuries.
2. Report the Accident
After receiving medical attention, make it a priority to report the accident. Depending on where it happens, report the event to a manager, owner, or landlord. Ask for a written incident report and make sure the contact information for the business or property owner and the insurance company is included. Do not give a recorded statement to an insurance adjuster for the negligent party without obtaining advice from an attorney first to avoid saying something that could be used against you. Also, don’t sign documents, such as a medical release of information or settlement release, without having an attorney review them first.
3. Document the Scene
Inspect the scene of the accident as soon as you can. Check and see what could have caused your slip and fall to see what store owners, employees, or property owners could fix to prevent another fall in the future. If you’re considering building a case, taking photos of the scene will be a powerful tool for the courtroom. Having evidence that the jury can see and not just visualize can be a significant factor in your case.
4. Determine Witnesses
Witnesses are crucial to support your version of events. If your slip and fall accident occurred in a store, ask other customers if they witnessed the incident and for their contact information. These witnesses can provide a brief explanation of what they saw and give further credibility to your claims. Though not having third-party witnesses isn't essential, the more witnesses you have, the more likely your case will stand.
5. Keep a Diary
Keeping a written record is critical for remembering key moments. Your memory may fade more quickly than you realize, so as soon as you can, write out exactly what happened. A written record can also keep you updated on your recovery progress and help track your pain and symptoms. A slip and fall accident may lead to injuries that develop over time, so make a note if your symptoms either worsen or improve.
6. Collect and Preserve Evidence
Be sure to save the clothes you were wearing when you were hurt; if they’re torn or bloodied, this can be strong evidence for your case. Other evidence to preserve includes the accident report, witness statements, pictures, medical bills, and documentation of your wages. Surveillance tape footage needs to be obtained quickly or it could be recorded over.
7. Avoid Social Media
We advise you not to talk about your accident and injuries to anyone other than your attorney. This goes double for social media! It’s tempting to go on a social media rant about the negligence of a business owner, but insurance adjusters and attorneys routinely search social media sites and may look to see if you’ve said anything inconsistent, are posting images of you doing activities that don’t support your injury claims, etc.
8. Work with an Experienced Attorney
The immediate steps you take after your slip and fall injury are crucial to getting fair compensation for your claim. Slip and fall accidents can be very complex in court and require extensive documentation and verification. Taking these steps to prepare an adequate amount of evidence to support your case is critical for verifying your story. Three things to look for in a slip and fall attorney:
- Make sure they’re a personal injury attorney, not general practice.
- Make sure they’ve handled slip and fall cases in the past. Experience matters!
- Make sure they’re prepared to take the case for trial. Some attorneys just plan to settle and avoid trial, but some settlements could be a very lowball offer so your attorney should always be ready to go to court.
Don't Wait to Contact a Slip and Fall Attorney
There is a two-year statute of limitations on slip and fall injury lawsuits. However, the sooner you contact an attorney following a slip and fall accident, the better. Not only will there be more evidence remaining, but your recall (and the recall of others if needed) will be less foggy. Lawyers are also more likely to be able to negotiate with the property owner and their insurance company in the beginning for a fair settlement, potentially avoiding the stress of a lawsuit.
Questions for Slip and Fall Lawyers
Getting ready to meet with your lawyer for a free consultation? Make sure you have some questions prepared. Here’s some to get you started.
What are your fees?
Most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, meaning if you recover monetary damages, your personal injury lawyer will take a percentage, typically 25-40%. While it’s tempting to always go with the lower percentage, you also want to be sure the attorney is experienced and skilled. It’s better to have 60% of a large award than 75% of a small one.
In addition to a contingency fee, some lawyers charge case-related costs upfront (also known as “out-of-pocket” costs). You’ll want to know in advance if you’ll be responsible for these.
Have you handled cases similar to mine? What were the results?
Don’t be afraid to ask a lawyer about their past experiences and results. You may also want to know how often they have reached a settlement and how often they have gone to trial, and what their success rate was.
How long does it typically take to resolve a case like mine?
There are many factors that go into a slip and fall case, making some more complicated than others. However, your attorney should be able to give you a rough estimate on when everything may be through.
Will my case go to trial?
A slip and fall settlement can be successful, but you should raise an eyebrow if they say early on that your case will settle. This means they may not even plan on going to trial, accepting any settlement (even a lowball one). You want to hire an attorney who will help you reach the fairest settlement, even if it means going to trial.
What is my case worth?
An experienced personal injury lawyer should be able to give you a rough idea of what your case is worth, or what type of slip and fall compensation to expect, based on discovery, liability, the severity of injuries, etc. If they give you an outrageous slip and fall lawsuit payout amount, however, you may want to be wary that they’re simply trying to get your business.
Who will handle my case?
You want the best attorneys working for you; sometimes, you’ll meet with a senior partner but then be passed on to a less experienced associate. Make sure you know who will be your representative from beginning to end, and who their superior is should you need additional support.
What do I need to do in a lawsuit?
Some people want to be very active in their case, attending depositions and other meetings. Others want to be hands-off, and let their attorney handle everything. So, it’s important to understand what your lawyer expects from you to make sure they’re a good fit.
Contact Lowman Law Firm, Your Dedicated Slip and Fall Lawyers
Lowman Law Firm was built on compassion and customer service. We’ll never treat your case like a number because we care about the communities we work in:
- Citrus County: Beverly Hills, Chassahowitzka, Crystal River, Floral City, Homosassa, Inverness, Lecanto
- Hernando County: Brooksville, Ridge Manor, Spring Hill, Weeki Wachee
- Pasco County: Dade City, Land o’ Lakes, Lutz, San Antonio, St. Joe, Wesley Chapel, Zephyrhills
When you choose us as your slip and fall injury lawyer, we will be committed and invested in your case from your initial consultation until its resolution. As our client, you’ll also have our full attention, meeting in person with us or by calling, emailing, and texting. With our combined experience and expertise, our entire law firm is committed to getting you the best possible results for your slip and fall accident.