Accidental injuries can occur anywhere, often when you least expect them, with impacts that affect your life both now and in the future. While slip and fall accidents in particular are among the most common type of injury, many people are unaware of their legal rights when it comes to getting compensation. These injuries, though often attributed as being accidental or due to clumsiness on the part of the victim, often result from the negligent and reckless actions of others. Proving the legal liability of a property owner or manager and providing strong evidence of the damages you have suffered are key elements in making a successful slip and fall case.
The Role of Negligence in Slip and Fall and Premises Liability Cases
According to statistics from the National Safety Council (NSC), over eight million people seek treatment in hospital emergency rooms each year for injuries resulting from a slip or fall accident. Among the most common types of these injuries include muscle, joint, or tendon damage, bone fractures, as well as serious and potentially disabling back, neck, and head injuries. While at first seen as accidental, closer inspection often reveals the underlying factor that contributed to the injury is the negligent act or acts of another.
Black Law Dictionary defines negligence as either doing something a reasonable person would not have done under similar circumstances, or failing to do something that could reasonably be expected. In terms of slip and fall accidents, the following situations could be considered negligent:
- Failing to protect the safety of visitors, such as not having handrails on stairs or failing to provide the proper lighting;
- Failing to warn customers or guests of unsafe conditions, such as not placing signs indicating wet floors or renovations in progress;
- Allowing unsafe conditions to exist, such as ignoring crumbling or uneven walkways and torn carpeting.
Any of the above may be used to prove legal liability through an insurance claim or in a personal injury lawsuit. In any type of slip and fall accident, it is vitally important to report the incident immediately to the property owner or manager, and to seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Proving the Damages You Have Suffered
Research conducted by the National Floor Safety Institute indicates that medical and hospital costs associated with slip and fall accidents are as high as $13 to $14 million annually, while more than 20 percent of these injuries result in more than 30 days of lost wages. In any personal injury lawsuit, a key element in your case is proving the amount of damages you have suffered, as well as the impact your injuries have had on your personal, financial, and emotional wellbeing. Evidence that can be used to prove your case includes the following:
- Statements from doctors, hospitals, and physical therapists regarding your current condition and your future prognosis;
- Receipts for any care you have received, as well as receipts for medication and medical aids, such as wheelchairs and crutches;
- Copies of pay stubs and earning statements;
- Statements from your employer on how your injury may affect your ability to perform your job, both now and in the future;
- Statements from family members and friends regarding the impact your injuries have had on your home and social life, and your ability to engage in activities and hobbies you previously enjoyed.
Showing both the damages you suffered as well as who was responsible for those damages can help you get the compensation you need to recover from your injuries.
Thanks to our friends and contributors at Johnston Law Firm for their insight into slip and fall accidents.