Slip and fall accidents happen every day across the country. Approximately 8 million people visit the emergency room due to slip and fall-related accidents every year. Slip and falls aren’t cheap either. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, creating a slip and fall injury would cost somewhere between $33,000 to $48,000.
20-30% of these cases result in serious injuries. At least 5% of people involved in a slip and fall break their bones. The majority of slip and fall victims are the elderly, as they are more vulnerable to serious injuries when they slip.
A slip and fall accident can occur anywhere. It typically happens whenever there’s a trip hazard on either public or private property. Slippery floors, unmarked ledges, and loose cables can also cause slip and falls.
The majority of these accidents happened in large venues where a trip hazard may be overlooked. For example, a cable in Home Depot was not marked or secured properly, which can trip an unsuspecting customer walking around the area.
It is always the property owner’s responsibility to ensure that their customers and guests are safe while they are on their property.
Here are some things you must know before filing a slip and fall lawsuit:
Who is liable in a slip and fall case?
The liability usually depends on where the accident occurred. If the slip and fall occurred in a mall, then the mall owner will be liable for the case.
But, you need substantial evidence to prove that the accident occurred due to the owner’s negligence.
You might have heard of the term “premises liability,” and that is where slip and fall accidents usually fall under.
The concept of the property owner being liable for any injuries sustained in their property is called premises liability. The owner is responsible for maintaining a safe environment at all times.
What Kind of Evidence Should I Present in a Slip and Fall Lawsuit?
The evidence that you need may depend on the type of slip and fall that happened, but generally, here are pieces of evidence that you must gather:
- Clothes and shoes at the time the accident occurred
- Surveillance footage, if available
- Pictures of your injuries
- Medical documents
- Pictures of the objects or conditions that triggered the slip and fall
- Witness statements
- Accident report
By gathering all the necessary evidence, can help your attorney create a strong case for you and win you the financial settlement you rightfully deserve.
The Steps When Filing a Slip and Fall Lawsuit
Although each slip and fall case is unique, these are the steps that slip and fall lawsuits generally follow:
- Filing the lawsuit.
This is the first step in the process. The lawsuit must be filed in the proper court and served on the property owner.
- The property owner answering the allegations.
After filing the lawsuit, the property owner will have the chance to answer the allegations filed against them and tell their version of events regarding the accident.
- The discovery phase.
This is where both parties would engage in a formal information-gathering process. This process usually involves “affidavits” (sworn retain statements) and “depositions” (sworn testimony). This phase is usually done before the trial.
If a settlement has not been reached between either party, then the case will proceed to trial. The victim or the “plaintiff” will need to prove the property owner’s negligence by presenting all the evidence they’ve gathered. The jury will then ask two questions:
– Was the property owner negligent?
– How much should you recover in damages?
Your lawyer will usually help you in this step. Once a verdict is returned, both sides have the right to appeal the decision.
What is Comparative Negligence?
Comparative negligence is used to determine the percentage of fault on both the plaintiff’s and the defendant’s sides. Each state may follow different laws when it comes to comparative negligence.
For example, in California, they follow “Pure Comparative Negligence Law.” This means that the state court will allow the injured party to collect the compensation for the damages regardless of whether they’re 50% or 99% at fault. However, the court will reduce the award depending on the plaintiff’s percentage of fault. The higher your percentage of fault, the smaller the recovery amount you’ll receive.
While you are focusing on your recovery, you must also regularly meet your attorney and exchange information with them. Ensure that you are being honest in answering whatever questions they ask you, as this can affect your case. Your attorney will usually ask how many days you missed work if you’ve received medical care yet, and how many days you were hospitalized. They will also ask if you’ve sustained any long-term injuries from the accident that can affect your employment in the future.
Business owners and corporations may try to disprove your statement or claim to avoid compensating you. Your attorney will be a good ally if that happens. They can create a strong argument and present definitive proof that can dispute the other party’s statements.