A slip and fall accident is usually, just as the name suggests, an accident wherein an individual slips, loses footing and falls. A variety of injuries can be caused by slipping, even when the injured party catches him or herself before hitting the surface of the floor. Falling due to a multitude of reasons are categorized as “slip and fall” accidents, as are tripping accidents that lead to injuries.
Slip and fall accidents are surprisingly dangerous and can cause serious injury. These injuries are particularly severe for the elderly or others who are physically fragile or compromised. Older adults have more fragile bones and less muscle density than young people due to the natural process of aging.
The Elderly and Slip and Fall Accidents
When an elderly person slips and falls, the results are commonly fractures, contusions and abrasions. Older adults tend to suffer fractured hips, broken arms, spinal compression fractures and sprained ankles from slip and fall accidents. They can also suffer brain injury due to cranial impact with the floor or ground surface.
Anyone involved in a slip and fall accident on another person or entity’s property should contact a personal injury attorney to discuss a claim for compensation for those injuries. Medical expenses for slip and fall accidents can be high and may continue for many years to come. It is particularly important to contact an attorney soon after the injury, as the statutes of limitations for your case may expire soon.
School Slip and Fall Accidents Are Common
Slip and fall injuries are more common on school property than you may think. As an example, consider the case of a man who filed a premises liability case against a school district in February 2016:
“The man’s lawsuit alleges that the School District owed him a high duty of care, as he was a business invitee on the property when the injury occurred. When he visited the property of the school, he slipped and fell on accumulated ice and snow on the school’s loading dock. This accident caused him to suffer significant injuries, including injuries to his body and extremities that may permanently trouble him.”
The suit claims negligence on the part of the school district because they failed to remove hazardous conditions on the school’s grounds in a timely manner or prior to his visit. The plaintiff is seeking $150,000 in damages for his resulting injuries.
This case will likely lead to settlement or a successful trial as business invitees are owed the highest duty of care. Duty of care is the liability property owners have for some people—such as invited guests—on the property based upon why the injured person was on the property when the accident happened.
Duty of Care in Slip and Fall Accidents
Duty of care varies from person to person, based upon why he or she is on a property when their accident occurs. Invitees, licensees and trespassers are the three levels of duty of care, each owed their own levels of support on the property.
Invitees are owed the highest duty of care, and include customers, churchgoers, travelers in a transportation terminal or visitors to a museum. Employees are also invitees. Property owners are required by law to ensure the environment is safe for invitees, such as in the removal of hazards and provisions of sufficient warnings for hazards that cannot be removed.
Licensees are those who visit a property with permission of the owner of the property. Social guests are good examples of licensees. Licensees must be warned of known hazards that he or she would not otherwise know about.
Trespassers are people who enter a property without the legal permission of the owner. They are owed the lowest duty of care and owners are not required to ensure their safety on the property. However, property owners cannot intentionally harm trespassers either. Trespassers cannot usually make a legal claim for injuries caused by slip and fall accidents.
Immediately Following a Slip and Fall Incident
A slip and fall incident may be the catalyst that gives rise to a lawsuit but the case technically begins as soon as a victim seeks medical attention for their injuries. Even if you feel like you do not require medical treatment, it is essential that you consult a doctor or physician immediately following a slip and fall accident. This is important for two reasons.
Injuries associated with slip and fall accidents often involve head trauma or musculoskeletal damage, particularly in the vertebral area. These types of injuries can appear over the course of a few days or even months later. Without a professional examination, you may not even know the full extent of your injuries until it is too late to file a claim.
Seeing a doctor is also an important step in building proof for your slip and fall lawsuit. Just saying you were injured is not enough for a judge to grant you compensation. The court will require medical documentation to evaluate the legitimacy of your claim, so be sure to save all related paperwork for your attorney.
Preparing for a Slip and Fall Case
Once a doctor has evaluated the extent of your injuries, your attorney will begin preparing for your case by investigating the scene of the accident. Every detail—even seemingly minute ones—are noted and documented by the lawyer for use in the case.
Lawyers also compile testimonies of eyewitnesses that back up the victim’s statement that the establishment acted negligently and should be held liable. If witnesses are hard to track down, video camera surveillance, photographs taken at the time of the incident and sworn statements by the defendants may be utilized to prove that the environment was indeed hazardous.
Although a slip and fall accident can fluster and embarrass you, perhaps causing you to not think straight, it is important to remember to take pictures of the scene and write down witnesses’ contact information if you can. These will be hugely helpful pieces of evidence for your attorney in a future claim.
Slip and fall accident injuries caused by someone else’s negligence entitles you to a legal claim for compensation for those injuries. Many personal injury attorneys, such as ours at Avrek, have vast experience in helping injured victims recover compensation for their injuries, medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and other damages.
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