When was the last time you slipped on a wet surface and fell? According to the National Floor Saftey Institute, slip and falls cases account for 1 million hospital visits. These slip and fall cases happen all the time.
Sometimes they can result in a minor graze but other times they can cause serious damage and lead to you being off work for weeks or even months at a time. So if you’re sure it wasn’t your fault, how do you go about taking legal action against the culpable party. More importantly, how do you make sure you win?
A Dangerous Condition
The easiest way to find someone legally culpable for a slip and fall injury is to prove that they were negligible somehow in an uneven surface that caused you to fall.
To begin your investigation into whether there is a case that someone has to answer, you are best to hire a personal injury attorney who will be able to give you a realistic view on how successful you are likely to be.
Have a Google and see who is operating in your local area but also feel free to ring them up to ask them for a quote or a brief discussion of your course. They’re going to be more than willing to help if there is money to be made.
Hiring an attorney who specializes in personal injury can help take the stress out of the whole process of trying to claim money back for a slip and fall as they can manage the whole process and ensure you don’t get ripped off.
There are a number of scenarios where a party may have placed you in danger through a dangerous condition.
This could be a local state or county government leaving an uneven road surface or pothole in the road without fixing it or signposting it.
A person with a private property such as a neighbor may have left a rubbish bag or other obstructing item on a pathway and this may have caused you to trip.
Or maybe, as has been the case in Wisconsin recently, icy roads, may lead to unexpected falls.
Alternatively, a cleaner may have recently cleaned a bathroom either at your place of work or at a public place and not left a sign outside reminding you to be careful that the floor is slippy leading to you falling the ground.
The NFSI has a number of tests and standards to help determine whether the company is at fault. These include a test to determine the wet static coefficient of friction (SCOF) of hard surfaces like laminate, vinyl, and tiles in the case of a wet floor. There’s also a walkway surface auditing procedure for the slip resistance of walkways.
In order to prove that this is the case, the person or company has got to prove in court that they did not provide a reasonable level of care and they could have foreseen the accident. In other words, you need to be able to prove that the other party acted incompetently.
There are various ways of doing this. One way of determining this, if you are suing a private company, is to determine whether there is a regular pattern of failing to properly follow health and Saftey guidelines.
This could involve requesting the company to provide documents such as a reliable log of potential hazards? If it was a slip and fall, then was there a cleaning rota and was it noted that the bathroom would be cleaned at the time of your fall?
If the company cannot provide these documents then that in itself may significantly work in your favor. If the hazard was recorded in the log then who knew about the hazard and which specific employees failed to act?
Length of Time
Such documents can also help you determine how long the obstacle – the wet floor or uneven surface – had existed. If there was only a two-minute interval between you slipping or falling and a cleaner or caretaker was in the process of going to get a sign when you fell then this may be harder to prove.
If, however, the obstacle had been clearly known about for days and weeks and nothing had been done then the company clearly is at fall.
Were You Acting Responsibly?
This is a hard question to answer and only you know the answer to this. However, be prepared for your own conduct to be questioned if you do end up pursuing a lawsuit.
If you were running down a corridor and slipped and fell or you had your earphones in and were dancing, not paying attention to the road when you fell over an uneven slab this could very well count against you.
Remember if the company or person you are pursuing has lots of money and resources they may well be able to track down members of the public who happened to be passing by and saw what was happing to act as witnesses.
Acting responsibly also means following procedures and reporting your injury to the relevant authority and filing the appropriate reports. Those who suffer from a slip and fall and do nothing at the time but decide to pursue it through the legal system months or even years down the line are often viewed with skepticism by the courts who see a claimant, not really affected by the case at the time, but simply trying to cash in.
What Can You Claim?
The court can award you a settlement that is comprised of a number of different factors. These include.
- Pain and suffering. This is to compensate up for the distress that the incident caused you and the pain you may have had to endure.
- Medical expenses. Everyone knows how expensive healthcare is in the U.S, even if you had a good insurance plan so these are a necessity.
- Lost wages. If you work in a traditional 9-5 then most of the time you’ll be covered by sick pay but if you’re self-employed or you have a more liberal contract with your employer you may lose out on some serious money even if you don’t have to go to the hospital. Make sure you keep a record of exactly how much money you lose.
- Other expenses. Any other bills you have to pay as a result of the injury might also be covered. Did you have to take a taxi or an Uber from the place the slip and fall accident took place to the hospital? Make sure you kept the receipt.
Slip and Fall Cases Can be Costly
Slip and fall cases can cost you lots of time off work. They can also be very painful if you fall in an awkward position and need treatment at a hospital.
Finding a lawyer who can help you determine how to proceed,however, is now easier than ever as lawyers have really put lots of effort into marketing their services online to make it easier for you to find the right lawyer for you and your case.