No matter where you are, a sudden fall can cause serious harm and warrant a trip to the emergency room. If you’re in a situation where you’re facing medical bills after a fall and believe someone else should be held accountable, a slip and fall lawyer from Thomas Law Offices can help.
At Thomas Law Offices, we believe accident victims deserve the best chance at recovery. When you seek legal guidance from us, we’ll review what you’ve been through, help you determine if your situation warrants a personal injury claim, and walk you through the steps of the claims process. We understand that taking legal action after an accident can be intimidating, which is why we’re prepared to be by your side every step of the way.
When someone’s negligence results in unsafe conditions that caused a slip and fall accident, there are a number of actions that go into determining liability and claim value. If you’re pursuing a case, your lawyer will want first to investigate your accident and determine the cause of your fall.
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Causes of Slip and Fall Accidents
Anyone can fall at any time, but not every fall is the victim’s fault. If you’re in the process of considering filing a claim, you’ll need to know how and why you fell. While there are numerous ways a slip and fall can happen, certain situations make it more likely. Some of the most common causes of slipping and falling include:
- Wet Surfaces. Wet floors are one of the main causes of slip and fall accidents. Tile floors and other potentially slick surfaces are hard and can cause major injuries depending on the other furniture or fixtures around.
- Uneven Floors. When a floor isn’t installed properly, or it’s old, there’s a chance it could be uneven. For example, torn carpets pose a tripping risk, as do tile or sidewalk slabs that are sticking up in the air. When someone expects a smooth surface to walk on, it’s easy to trip and fall when an unexpected hazard gets in the way.
- Broken Handrails. Most staircases have handrails to assist the people walking up and down them. If someone needs to rely heavily on the handrail and it’s not installed properly, or it’s broken, the person could end up falling down the stairs. Falling down the stairs has the potential to cause serious injuries to the head or back like traumatic brain injuries, broken bones, and spinal cord trauma. Some falls can even be fatal.
- Environmental Conditions. Property owners need to ensure their properties are free of environmental hazards like trash or debris on the floor, poor lighting, and ice or snow in the wintertime. If an environmental hazard isn’t cleaned up or visitors aren’t warned about it, and it isn’t obvious, an accident is likely.
- Unsafe Stairs. It’s not just the handrails that can be dangerous. Stairs should be evenly spaced and firm. If stair boards are loose or soft, the person walking up or down them could fall. As mentioned, stairwell injuries have the potential to be severe and require significant treatment.
- Inadequate Property Maintenance. Certain occupations are more at risk of slip and fall accidents when proper safety practices aren’t followed. Examples of jobs include construction workers, custodial staff, chefs and kitchen staff, manual laborers, and factory workers. When employers fail to enforce the necessary protocols to maintain a property’s level of safety, they can be held accountable.
It’s important to note that individuals over the age of 65 are more at risk of falling because of conditions like weakness in the legs, balance problems, poor vision, and the use of some prescription medications. That is why nursing homes need to act with extra care when maintaining the condition of facilities and monitoring residents.
Proving a Slip and Fall Claim
When you choose to pursue a slip and fall claim for an accident you believe should have been prevented by the property owner or business manager, a key issue you’ll deal with proving is liability. For fall accidents, questions revolve around who the potentially liable parties are and whether those parties were negligent.
With a slip and fall claim, you will often hear the word “reasonable” be brought up in settlement negotiations. That is because in order to be found negligent, a property owner has to have failed to act as a reasonable person would have acted under similar circumstances leading up to the accident.
Another issue that arises is the opposing party claiming you caused the accident yourself or are at least partially responsible for what happened. This is what’s legally known as comparative fault. Depending on where you reside, comparative negligence or contributory negligence laws could apply to your claim. Your attorney will be aware of what to do in a situation like that and fight to ensure it does not impact your ability to recover compensation.
If you are deemed partially responsible for what happened, your lawyer will fight to keep your percentage of fault low, so you can still seek some form of recovery. Partial responsibility may be found if you were distracted at the time of the accident, you did not have lawful access to the property where you were injured, or if there were adequate warning signs posted.
Theories of Liability
Once you’ve determined the party responsible for your fall, it’s time to consider how to go about proving liability. Through an extensive investigation, which will include your telling of the accident, your medical records and hospital statements, witness testimony, and any relevant reports or photographs, your lawyer will determine how best to present your claim.
There are two common situations that can result in a successful slip and fall claim. In the first, you have to prove that the property owner should have known about the dangerous condition and repaired it but failed to do so. So long as a reasonable person could not have identified the hazardous condition, you will likely win. The other situation involves the property owner causing the dangerous condition that presented an obvious hazard to those nearby.
Thomas Law Offices Can Help
At Thomas Law Offices, our attorneys have experience representing slip and fall accident victims in a variety of situations. If you’ve fallen and think someone else is to blame, it’s important to understand your legal rights and options and how best to proceed to protect your future.
When you work with a slip and fall lawyer, they will carefully investigate what you’ve been through, determine who’s responsible for your injuries, value your claim, and fight for your right to a full recovery. The process can seem daunting, but your attorney will have the situation under control so you can focus more on healing.
We recognize that every injury claim is different, which means every claim deserves undivided and personalized attention. The sooner you get started on your claim, the better your chance is of reaching a favorable end. With a strong claim, you could have access to funds for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. To learn more about options or to get your claim off the ground, schedule a free case evaluation with our law firm today.