Slip & Fall Accidents are More Common Than You Think
A slip and fall accident is, essentially, exactly what the name implies: one party is injured when slipping or tripping and falling, usually on another person’s property, due to some sort of hazardous condition. This hazardous condition could be anything from a faulty handrail to uneven pavement to a slippery surface.
For someone young and healthy, a fall might not sound like much to worry about, but the reality is that the ensuing injuries are often more serious than meets the eye. It’s also a far more common occurrence than you may realize; in fact, more than half a million slip and fall accidents requiring medical care occur in North America each year.
So what can you do if you are injured in a slip and fall accident? Many people may not realize that pursuing legal action is absolutely a possibility. If you’re unsure whether you have a case, reach out to a Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys slip and fall accident lawyer for a free consultation today. Our experienced attorneys are waiting to answer your call and help you figure out the best course of action for your situation.
When Can You Sue for a Slip and Fall Accident?
Filing a personal injury lawsuit after a slip and fall accident is certainly possible, and is often the best way to approach the situation. However, there are of course also cases where suing would not be the right, or even the legal, approach. In order to have a valid claim, your fall must be the result of a hazardous condition caused by another party’s negligence.
Businessowner, proprietors, home owners, and landlords have a duty of care to keep the property they own safe and free of any hazardous conditions. It’s up to you and your slip and fall accident lawyer to show that you have a valid premises liability claim because the property owner failed to meet this duty of care. If you can establish that the fall was the result of a hazardous condition, you may have a valid claim.
What Constitutes a Hazardous Condition?
Hazardous conditions that can cause a fall, and that may establish the property owner’s negligence and the validity of your claim, can include:
- Wet or oily floors
- Uneven pavement or flooring
- Loose or torn carpeting
- Loose or faulty handrail
- Poor lighting
There are many more examples of potential unsafe conditions that may mean you have a valid claim. Talk to your Munley slip and fall accident attorney to review the specifics of your case and determine if any unsafe or hazardous conditions were present at the time of your fall.
Beyond the existence of the unsafe condition, you and your slip and fall accident attorney also must prove that the property owner knew (or, alternately, that any reasonable person would have known) about the unsafe condition. You can also prove that they knew of it and did not attempt to fix it. In some cases, you can also attempt to prove that the property owner is actually personally responsible for causing the unsafe condition. This may be the case if, for instance, they left a hazardous object in the middle of a dimly lit walkway or hallway, creating a high chance that someone would trip and fall when trying to navigate that area.
Overall, you may have a case if you can show that the property owner either caused the unsafe condition, or knew about it and did not attempt to fix it and/or warn you about it.
How Long Do You Have to Sue After a Slip and Fall Accident?
As with most legal proceedings, there is a statute of limitations on suing after a slip and fall accident. This statute varies from state to state, so it’s important to refer to local laws or your attorney’s advice when determining whether you are still eligible to file. In the state of Pennsylvania, the statute of limitations is two years, meaning you can file up to two years after the accident. There are some exceptions, such as a case in which the injured party is a minor (under the age of 18). However, even if you have up to two years, it’s best not to wait nearly that long. In most cases, getting started sooner is better, as the process itself can sometimes be lengthy.
Preparing Your Case
Whether you are filing an insurance claim, working to settle a suit, or preparing for a trial, you and your attorney will work together to make sure you are prepared and your side is airtight.
In any case, you should be prepared to answer questions from the defendant’s legal team or insurance company. In order to pay out as little as possible and/or try to win on their client’s behalf, they will likely try to pin some degree of liability on you. They may ask questions such as the following:
- Were you distracted, ie texting or on the phone, at the time of the accident?
- Did you ignore any warnings from the defendant or property owner about potential dangers?
- Were you horsing around or being rambunctious in a way that would have caused the accident?
In addition to preparing for that line of questioning, you and your slip and fall accident lawyer will also work together to gather evidence that bolsters your case and illustrates how much compensation you’re eligible for. One of the most effective and important forms of evidence is the medical bills from injuries you experienced as a result of the slip and fall incident. These will likely serve as a baseline for the amount of compensation you’re seeking.
Additionally, you can provide evidence of lost wages if you were unable to work for a period, or a lowered earning capacity if the accident in any way permanently impacted your ability to work or the type of work you can perform. You may also provide evidence of “pain and suffering”, ie the psychological and emotional impacts of your injuries.
What if the Accident Was Partially My Fault?
Whether or not it’s the truth, the other party’s legal team will most likely try to argue that it was not the defendant’s negligence that caused the accident. In fact, they may well likely argue that it was the injured party’s very own negligence that caused the incident to occur. You, as the injured party, should expect and be prepared to answer questions from the defendant’s legal team about your own potential liability:
Your slip and fall accident lawyer will, of course, do everything in their power to argue your side of the case and prove that the wrongdoing falls to the other party. However, even in a case where you were partially at fault, you’re not out of luck.
What is Comparative Fault?
The notion of comparative fault means that you can still collect compensation for an accident that is partially your fault, though the amount you receive is reduced by whatever percentage of fault you carry. In other words, if it’s determined that you are 20% percent at fault for the accident, you will be capable of receiving 20% less compensation than whatever amount you were initially aiming for.
Imagine, for example, that your case goes to court, and the court decides that the cost of your medical bills and pain and suffering amounts to $50,000. However, they also determine that due to your own actions, you are 20% at fault. That $50,000 would be reduced by 20% (in this case, $10,000), and the defendant is now obligated to pay you a total of $40,000.
Remember that, under Pennsylvania state law, the ability to collect anything is valid only if you are 50% responsible or less. If the court determines that you bear 51% responsibility or more for the accident, you automatically waive your right to any financial compensation.
What Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys Can Do For You
Navigating the legal and insurance systems can be overwhelming, especially in the wake of a traumatic and physically taxing accident. At Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys, we stand with all accident victims and believe that you deserve support and legal service of the highest quality as your pursue both justice and compensation. Our incredible team consists of ten excellent, highly experienced lawyers and dozens of excellent legal support staff whose singular goal is to protect your rights.
Slip and fall cases most often settle rather than going to trial, but in the case that a trial is needed, you want to make sure your lawyer can defend you. At Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys, we can do just that.
All of our highly-qualified lawyers have years of hands-on trial experience, which is something many personal injury attorneys and firms cannot offer. We have a fantastic track record when it comes to slip and fall cases, and dozens of glowing reviews from satisfied clients.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys to meet one of our incredible personal injury attorneys. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation and learn how we can protect your interests and help you recover compensation.