Slip and fall accidents are among the most common types of premises liability cases. A staggering 9,000,000 slip and fall accidents occur each year in the United States. In theory, that means 95,000,000 lost work days, meaning to say that slips and falls result in approximately $3.5 million per hour in lost revenues for the United States alone. These statistics give credence to the fact that slip and fall injuries are life-altering and sometimes debilitating injuries. They can be the reason for loss of employment, disability, mounting hospital expenses and medical bills, and pain and suffering.
When a slip and fall accident occurs, the liability may fall on an establishment or property owner. If the owner has failed to maintain all safety precautions in his or her premises, he can be held liable if or when an individual slips, falls or trips on his property, for various reasons. For example: A slip and fall liability may be incurred by a property owner who has allowed his property to deteriorate, such as failing to fix defects on the floors or walkways. Other potential reasons for slip and falls may be inappropriately constructed parts of the premises, safety hazards within the premises, failure to remove impediments from certain areas in the premises, failure to warn people about a hazardous condition on the premises, or even simply failing to clear up snow, ice build up or water.
The legal system has certain procedures in determining liability in slip and fall cases. Lawyers will consider certain facts, such as how long a dangerous condition existed, and whether the property owner took the time to discover and attempt to fix the problem. Whether or not the owner actually eliminated the hazards will also be considered. Finally, the plaintiff (the complaining and injured party) will also be investigated to see if his or her individual careless played a part in the accident.
There are also special laws which apply to trespassers, children, and workplace-related or government-property slip and fall accidents. Since trespassers are not supposed to be on an establishment owner’s property, the property owner does not owe as much of a duty to them. For example: if a shop customer wanders or intentionally enters an off-limits area within the store, then he or she has become a trespasser. Children may also be defined as trespassers in these cases, but the law has different considerations for children in trespassing cases. However, if a child experiences a slip or fall on a premises, the owner may be held liable. For example: If a building owner has a swimming pool within the premises, the owner may be held liable for not constructing a locking gate or fence around the pool in order to deter children from entering. In cases of workplace-related accidents, workplace compensation laws will usually apply in terms of determining liability. In the same way, an accident that occurs on government property will be subject to state or federal laws regarding filing tort claims.
After a slip and fall accident occurs, the liable party’s insurance company will immediately start an investigation on the matter. The insurance company of the liable party will try to limit the recovery of the person who has been injured, keeping it to the lowest amount possible. Since they have specific procedures which govern slip and fall claims, the insurance company will follow a series of elaborate steps in order to lessen the amount of recovery they owe the injured party. They will gather statements from witnesses, examine and test the premises being called into question, take photos, and do what they can within the first 24 to 48 hours to establish the extent of the accident victim’s injuries.
If you have been injured in a slip and fall accident, know that insurance companies will attempt to trick you into making a quick settlement, just so they can avoid further responsibilities, such as paying for medical procedures, lost wages and other related damages. An injury resulting in a slip and fall accident usually takes months to evaluate, and can only be established after a specialist physician has made a full diagnosis. If you let an insurance company finalize a settlement in a matter of days, you would have lost much in terms of the recovery you need, such as rehabilitation, physical therapy for your injuries and further surgery. You need to also consider that your health insurance company will seek to be reimbursed for your medical bills. Before agreeing to any sort of arrangement, you need to know the health insurance company’s limitations to receiving reimbursements.
You can only truly appropriate the value of a slip and fall accident or personal injury claim if you have fully evaluated the extent of the injury, its nature, any recoverable losses, and all related liability issues. You need to know how insurance companies work so that you don’t become a victim of injustice on top of being an accident victim. It’s best to procure the services of a San Francisco and Silicon Valley personal injury attorney who is experienced in handling these complicated slip and fall cases, an attorney who will be ready to litigate your claim or your behalf, especially when the insurance company is relentless in its pursuit to settle your claims unfairly.
If you have been involved in a slip and fall accident and want to know your rights, contact Fuller Law and claim your free, no-obligation consultation with a San Francisco and Silicon Valley personal injury attorney.