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The Guide to the Slip and Fall Law

by on May 4, 2012 » Add the first comment.

On Your Back: The Guide to the Slip-and-Fall Law

You never expected it to happen: A perfectly ordinary Saturday trip to the grocery store ends in disaster. Right when you were about to grab a bunch of bananas in the produce section, you stepped in a puddle of water and slipped, landing painfully on your right hip. Now you are left with constant pain from an injury that resulted from something so routine and seemingly safe.

Such accidents are not uncommon. More than 300,000 injuries result from slip-and-fall accidents (also known as premises liability) every year in the United States. Even famous people have succumbed to dangerous slips and falls: Katherine Graham, former president of The Washington Post Company, and Dr. Robert Atkins, developer of the popular Atkins Diet, both died of sudden falls.

But there is recourse for slip-and-fall injuries that result from custodial neglect. The slip-and-fall law protects those who have been injured by slipping and falling from the negligence which allowed for a dangerous situation to exist in the first place. The slip-and-fall law is a tort: that is, it addresses and provides remedies for civil wrongs not arising out of contractual obligations.

Property owners have a “duty of care” to see that their property is maintained for the safety of others. But sometimes a property owner may neglect to care for his or her property, and accidents may ensue as a result. Slip-and-fall accidents can happen for a number of reasons, including:

  •     Slippery surfaces
  •     Defective flooring
  •     Objects or spilled food in the walking area
  •     Poor lighting
  •     Uneven surfaces, including irregular sidewalks

Property owners generally have two basic defenses for liability of slip-and-fall cases. These defenses are:

  1. They were not negligent. For example, the owner may claim that the jar of broken applesauce had been on the floor for only a short time before a patron slipped on it. Therefore the owner may state that there was not enough time to discover the danger and rectify the situation
  2. The property owner may claim that the person who was injured is at fault. That is, any patron exercising due diligence would have seen the spilled applesauce and managed to avoid it.

If you are a victim of a slip-and-fall accident, it is important that you secure the necessary documentation to demonstrate that the property owner is at fault in the accident.

Older people are especially susceptible to slip-and-fall accidents. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that one in three adults over age 65 experience falls every year. Of those who fall, 20 to 30 percent suffer serious injuries that make it impossible for them to live independently. Many of these injuries are fatal. And older adults are hospitalized for fall-related activities five times more often than they are for injuries related to other events.

The costs of slip-and-fall related injuries are astronomical: In 2000, the total direct cost of all slip-and-fall injuries for people 65 and older exceeded $19 billion. By 2020 this number is expected to increase to $54.9 billion.

The injuries that result from slip-and-fall accidents vary based on the severity of the accident. Some of the more serious consequences of slip-and-fall accidents can include, but are not limited to, the following injuries:

  •     Traumatic brain injuries
  •     Bruises
  •     Injuries to internal organs
  •     Hip fractures

Should you experience a slip or fall, make sure to seek medical attention immediately to determine if any injury resulted from the accident.

Involved in a Slip-and-Fall Accident? Follow These Rules

A slip-and-fall accident occurs when foot contact is broken and the individual cannot right him or herself. In determining negligence in a slip-and-fall case the most important element is to have an expert measure the coefficient of friction, or how slippery the surface was that caused injury. To determine the slipperiness of a walkway or floor, the American Society for Testing and Materials uses a standard “neolite” material fastened to a weight, then pulled across the surface to be tested. And while signs do not prevent accidents, they may reduce the dollar amount awarded in a lawsuit. But when the surface is excessively slippery, the proprietor must rectify the situation.

It is important you follow a few rules when involved in a slip-and-fall accident. The first thing to do is to seek medical attention. A medical professional needs to determine the extent of your injuries. Second, take pictures of the scene of the accident. It is important that you have evidence of any negligence on the part of the property owner. Make sure to get the information from anyone who might have witnessed your accident and who might be able to testify in court. Then report the accident to a manager or other professional within the vicinity of where the accident occurred. You will need official documentation of your accident when it comes time to file a claim.

If your slip-and-fall accident occurs at work, you might be eligible for workman’s compensation. Be aware, however, that workman’s compensation is a form of insurance that provides compensation and medical care for employees who are injured in the course of employment. When an injured employee agrees to take workman’s compensation, he or she relinquishes the right to sue his or her employer for the tort of negligence.

Finally, and most importantly, contact an attorney trained in slip-and-fall cases. An attorney trained in slip-and-fall accidents will be familiar with your state’s rules and regulations concerning slip-and-fall cases. If you are the victim of a slip-and-fall accident, you may suffer lost wages, physical pain and mental suffering. Many times you will be eligible for a settlement or other forms of compensation; only a lawyer trained in slip-and-fall cases will be able to help you get the compensation you deserve for your injuries.

Find more like this: Personal Injury

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