Did you know that 2.2 million Americans seek emergency room care annually due to a slip and fall-related injury? And this number continues to rise with each passing year.
Unfortunately, there has also been an increase in fraudulent claims from people looking to take advantage of the system by frivolously suing, which has led to harsher guidelines for granting claimants compensation for slip and fall accidents. For those who are truly injured in a hazardous environment because of the negligence of the owner, having an experienced premises liability attorney is essential in understanding your legal options and standing a chance in winning your claim.
Immediately Following a Slip and Fall Incident
A slip and fall incident may be the catalyst that gives rise to a lawsuit, but the case technically begins as soon as a victim seeks medical attention for their injuries. Even if you feel like you do not require medical treatment, it is essential that you consult a doctor or physician immediately following a slip and fall accident. This is important for two reasons:
- Unknown injuries. Injuries associated with slip and fall accidents often involve head trauma or musculoskeletal damage, particularly in the vertebral area. These types of injuries can appear over the course of a few days or even months later. Without a professional examination, you may not even know the full extent of your injuries until it is too late to file a claim.
- Documentation. Seeing a doctor is also an important step in building proof for your slip and fall lawsuit. Just saying you were injured is not enough for a judge to grant you compensation. The court will require medical documentation to evaluate the legitimacy of your claim, so be sure to save all related paperwork for your attorney.
Preparing for a Slip and Fall Case
Once a doctor has evaluated the extent of your injuries, your attorney will begin preparing for your case by investigating the scene of the accident. Every detail, even the seemingly minute ones, are noted and documented by the lawyer for use in the case.
One technique attorneys use to investigate the scene of a slip and fall accident is called the Variable Incidence Tribometer (VIT). The VIT accurately and scientifically determines the slip resistance ratio of a walkway surface, and how much of a role it may have played on the incident.
Lawyers also compile testimonies of eyewitnesses that back up the victim’s statement that the establishment acted negligently and should be held liable. If witnesses are hard to track down, video camera surveillance, photographs taken at the time of the incident, and sworn statements by the defendants may be utilized to prove that the environment was indeed hazardous.
Although a slip and fall accident can fluster and embarrass you, causing you to not think straight, it is important to remember to take pictures of the scene and write down witnesses’ contact information if you can. These will be hugely helpful pieces of evidence for your attorney in a future claim.
Settling a Slip and Fall Claim Outside or Inside of the Court System
As with any civil cases, a slip and fall lawsuit can be resolved outside of court, which is generally cheaper for both parties. A lawyer will try to negotiate an out-of-court settlement during this phase of litigation; however, the defendant may not agree to the terms put forth by your attorney.
Generally, slip and fall lawsuits are only settled out of court if a lawyer can prove a prima facie case to the defendants, meaning the matter of who is at fault can be clearly determined “at first glance,” or evident based on the facts. If prima facie cannot be proven, and a defendant refuses to settle, then the case will have to be resolved in court.
A successful slip and fall claim will prove to the judge that the defendant acted negligently, which directly led to the victim’s injury. The owner of the establishment will try to suggest that they did not act negligently and that the victim is partly or wholly to blame for their own injuries. It is your attorney’s job to discredit the defendant’s claims, and expose the different types and severities of injuries sustained by the victim because of the negligence of the defendant.
If the defendant is deemed to be at fault for the slip and fall accident, you may be eligible for the following recoverable damages:
- Medical expenses
- Rehabilitative expenses
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Lessened quality of life
- Personal property damage
- Lawyer fees
With so many frivolous lawsuits out there, it can be difficult to receive fair compensation from a slip and fall claim without legal representation. If you were truly injured by slipping or falling, consult a slip and fall attorney to learn about your legal options and set your case in motion.