Did you suffer an injury in a slip and fall accident on someone else’s property? You have probably heard that not every slip, trip, or fall resulting in injury warrants legal action and compensation for the accident victim. How do you know if you have a valid slip and fall claim?
In this comprehensive article, learn from the Philadelphia slip and fall lawyers at Cousin Benny what types of slip and fall cases there are, what sort of injuries commonly occur in a slip and fall accident, what evidence you need to prove a slip and fall case in Pennsylvania, and what steps to take if you slip, trip, or fall and suffer an injury.
If you’ve had a slip and fall accident, call Cousin Benny’s personal injury lawyers to find out what your case is worth, free of charge!
Categories of Slip and Fall Liability
In general, property owners are required by law to keep their property reasonably free of hazards and to warn visitors of existing hazards. If property owners act or fail to act in a way that causes or contributes to your slip and fall accident, they may be liable for your injuries and they or their insurance company must compensate you.
Property hazards generally fall within these three categories:
1. Potential Hazard
Property owners must maintain their premises to prevent potential hazards. For example, a supermarket that fails to maintain their freezers, causing them to fail and flood the aisle, is liable for injuries incurred when shoppers slip.
2. Neglected Hazard
A property owner is required to inspect their property for hazards and must remedy or warn visitors of known hazards. For example, if a property owner fails to notice that a sidewalk has become uneven within a reasonable period of time, they may be liable for injuries incurred if visitors trip on that sidewalk. Similarly, if the property owner knows of the uneven sidewalk but does nothing to warn visitors or to fix it, they may be liable for trip and fall injuries that result.
3. Personal Carelessness by Visitor
Slip and fall injuries frequently occur that are in no way the fault of the property owner. For example, if someone is walking and texting on their cell phone, fails to notice a work zone sign, and trips and falls, they may be more than 50% at fault for their injuries and will not be able to recover damages from the property owner.
Slip and fall liability is a highly fact-based determination and every case is different. In the afore-mentioned scenario, an experienced slip and fall lawyer may argue that the work zone warning was insufficient in size or that barriers should have been placed around the zone to prevent people from unwittingly wandering in, in order to increase the property owner’s fault to more than 50% and entitle the injured person to some compensation.
Common Causes of Slip and Fall Injuries
- Wet floors
- Slippery floors
- Uneven flooring
- Uneven sidewalks
- Icy conditions
- Extension cords
- Objects in walkway or aisle
- Construction debris
Common Slip and Fall Injuries
- Muscle strains and sprains
- Broken bones, especially ankles, wrists, collar bones, pelvis, and shoulders
- Back, neck, and spinal cord injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
What Types of Evidence Proves a Slip and Fall Claim?
Slip and fall cases are premises liability cases, meaning the injured party seeks to hold the property owner, manager, or tenant liable for their injuries. Legally, your personal injury lawyer must prove that the property owner was negligent, meaning the property owner had a duty to you to prevent the circumstances that caused your slip and fall from occurring, they “breached” or failed to do that duty, and that breach caused your damages.
Identify All Responsible Parties
Property owners may be residential, commercial, a social or non-profit organization, or a government entity, and there may be additional parties liable for causing or contributing to your slip and fall accident such as a property manager, tenant, maintenance company, or construction company.
Your slip and fall lawyer will investigate and find out who by ownership, lease, or contract is liable for your injuries.
Establish the Standard of Care Owed by the Property Owner
The standard of care a property owner owes you depends upon whether you were an invitee, a licensee, or a trespasser on the property. Establishing the correct standard of care is essential to show that the property owner breached their duty to you, and your slip and fall lawyer will help you determine this.
Simply put, property owners, usually service providers or retail establishments, owe the highest standard of care to invitees, their customers, and must warn them of potential hazards as well as regularly inspect for hazards. Licensees are social guests or other parties that have the legal right to be on a property. Property owners have a lesser duty to licensees and are not required to warn them of obvious hazards. Property owners have a duty to not intentionally harm trespassers.
Once all responsible parties are identified and your purpose for being on the property is established, your slip and fall lawyer must show that the property owner breached their duty to you, causing your damages. Examples of evidence showing breach and causation may include:
Take photographs of the accident scene, your injuries, and any damage to your clothing or personal possessions on you at the time. Property owners have been known to remediate an accident scene after receiving an accusation of negligence, so getting photographs of the scene as it was at the time of the accident is crucial.
Seek Medical Attention
Whether you require emergency care at the scene of your slip and fall or you visit your doctor later, be sure to tell your medical team how your accident happened, where and how you fell, what body parts you fell on, and where you currently feel pain. You may have suffered an injury that is not immediately apparent, especially if you struck your head in the fall.
Your medical providers will generate a medical record showing the injuries caused by your slip and fall accident and the care you require. Your slip and fall lawyers will use this record, medical bills, the amount of earnings you lost due to missed work, and any lasting impact your injuries have on your life, your ability to work, and the lives of your family to determine your damages, i.e., the amount of compensation you deserve.
Get Witness Contact Information
Survey the area to see if anyone else saw your accident. Get their contact information. Witness statements are valuable as objective bystander observations of the accident and the conditions causing the accident.
Gather Surveillance Footage
Your slip and fall lawyer will ask for surveillance footage that shows how the accident occurred. This footage may come from security cameras, residential doorbell cameras, traffic cameras, and any other camera that may have captured your accident.
8 Steps to Take Immediately After a Slip and Fall Accident
- Call 911 if Your Injuries Appear Serious
- Report the Slip and Fall to the Property Manager
- Take Photographs or Video of the Accident Scene
- Gather Witness Contact Information
- Preserve Your Clothing
- Consult an Attorney Promptly and Before Signing Anything or Giving a Statement
- Limit Communication with Interested Parties Such as Property Owners, Witnesses, and Insurance Companies
- Follow Your Medical Provider’s Guidance
So, Do You Have a Valid Slip and Fall Case?
If after reading this article you believe you have a valid slip and fall case, you should promptly consult with an experienced slip and fall lawyer in your jurisdiction.
Bear in mind that in Pennsylvania, the statute of limitations on filing a slip and fall case is two (2) years from the date of the accident, and if the accident occurred on government property, there are additional filing and notice requirements that have strict deadlines.
Contact Our Philadelphia Slip and Fall Accident Attorneys
Your job is to rest and recover from your slip and fall accident. Let the slip and fall attorneys at Cousin Benny deal with the defendants, the court, and the insurance companies while you focus on healing. We will fight tirelessly for the compensation you deserve. Call today for your free consultation.
At Cousin Benny, we treat you like family!