Slip and Fall
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Slip and Fall Injury Lawyers in New York
The insurance industry has crafted a stereotype promulgated by the media of slip and fall accidents doing much of their damage to a person’s ego. While Hollywood might portray slip and fall accidents for laughs by portraying fall victims as malingerers seeking a payday complete with a fake neck brace, the truth is far more ominous. Slip, trip, and fall accidents cause injury to 2.8 million Americans annually according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Falls also constitute the leading cause of traumatic brain injuries. Approximately 800,000 people per year in the U.S. suffer serious enough injury in a fall each year that they must be hospitalized. Injuries experienced by workers who trip or slip and fall also account for fifteen percent of all workplace injuries.
If you are injured in a slip and fall accident because a negligent property or business owner failed to clear a hazardous condition, such as a spill on a tile floor, you might have the right to legal compensation. However, slip and fall cases can be complicated to litigate because many states have enacted laws that are not friendly to fall victims injured by property owners who fail to keep their premises safe. While your first concern will be your medical recovery, the financial impact of such an accident can be financially ruinous. The CDC estimates that the direct medical costs associated with fall-related injuries in the U.S. amount to $31 billion annually with two-thirds of this cost devoted to hospital bills. The personal injury attorneys at Parker Waichman LLP are committed to holding negligent property and business owners accountable for the injuries they cause while seeking the maximum financial compensation for our clients.
Financial Resources of a National Firm - Personalized Customer Service of a Small Firm
Parker Waichman LLP offers the advantages of a large law firm with legal services delivered in a client-centric approach more typically associated with a smaller law firm. Our slip and fall attorneys know that individuals hurt in falls must cope with intense pain, extensive medical care, time off work, and intense anxiety. Our goal is to demystify the insurance claims and litigation process, so our clients can focus on their physical and emotional recovery.
Injury victims who seek out our law firm know that there is no substitute for experience. Our law firm offers experience that is virtually unmatched. The lawyers in our firm can claim over 350 years of collective experience, and our attorneys have recovered over $2 billion in settlements and judgments for injury and fatality victims. At Parker Waichman LLP, we place a high value on attorney-client communication, so we provide periodic updates to our clients from the moment we are retained through the conclusion of the case. Because our law firm has received widespread national acclaim, a small sampling of the accolades we have received provides insight into our reputation for exemplary legal services and representation:
- U.S. World News and World Report — “Best Law Firms in the Country”
- Designated as a member of the “Billion Dollar Trial Lawyers”
- Awarded highest “AV” Rating by Martindale-Hubbell based on experience, peer reviews, and other factors
- Achieved “Top 100 U.S. Verdict”
- Near perfect evaluation by AVVO (9.8 out of 10)
- Bestowed with prestigious “5 Dragon” award based on exhaustive peer review
What Laws Apply to Slip and Fall Accidents?
Slip and fall accident liability is governed by premises liability law. Premises liability law addresses the legal responsibility of parties that own and occupy property for injuries to others who come on the premises. The liability of property owners generally will be governed by state law except for certain isolated situations such as injuries on property owned by the federal government. Although the liability standards and rules for this type of accident will differ from state to state, we have provided an overview of some of the general principles of liability in many states.
Negligence of Premises Owners & Occupiers
In simple terms, premises liability is a form of negligence law specific to injuries that occur to visitors of the premises of another. In many jurisdictions, a property owner (or individual or entity in possession) of a property can be liable to a third party who comes on the property for failing to warn of a latent hazard or neglecting to make a patent hazard safe that the owner/occupier of the property know or should know exists. Depending on the jurisdiction, the defendant might have a heightened duty of care when the owner/occupier directly or through the actions of an employee creates the unsafe condition. The task of proving liability might be more difficult in states that incorporate this distinction when the hazards are not a product of the actions of the defendant and/or his agents or employees.
Factors Impacting Liability for Hazards on the Premises of Another
In many jurisdictions, actual knowledge of the dangerous condition is not necessary for the defendant to be liable. Rather, it is sufficient that the property owner has “constructive knowledge” of the hazard, which means that the premises owner should know about the existence of the dangerous condition. Factors that might be relevant to determining the liability of the defendant includes:
- The duration of time the hazard was present
- Nature of the premises (e.g., business held open to the public vs. private residence)
- Visitor’s reason for being on the premises
- Inspection and maintenance practices
- Whether the hazard is a latent defect not likely to be discovered by a visitor
- Past accidents attributable to the same hazard
- Lighting in the areas of the fall
- Clarity and conspicuousness of any warning signs or barriers
- Compliance with relevant building and safety codes
- Expert evaluation of slip resistance in flooring (referred to as “coefficient of friction”)
- Characteristics of the victim (e.g. children get greater protection in many cases)
These are just a few factors that might that might be relevant when assessing the liability of a property owner/occupier for injuries to an individual who comes on their premises. While some injury victims assume that slip and fall accidents are rather straightforward injury cases, this list of factors reveals the fact-intensive investigation and analysis necessary to prevail in slip and fall accident lawsuit.
Classification of Injury Victims: Invitees, Licensees & Trespassers
Traditionally, the duty owed by an owner or occupier of property to a party who was injured depended on the classification of the visitor. While some jurisdictions have deemphasized these classifications to some extent, these distinctions still carry significant weight in a clear majority of jurisdictions.
This term refers to an individual who comes on the premises of another for the financial benefits of the property owner. If you are on the premises to shop for goods or services, conduct business, or another purpose that could financially benefit the property owner, you generally will be considered an invitee. Examples of parties that typically qualify as invitees include:
- Delivery persons
- Mail carriers
- Repairmen or contractors
- Domestic help
- Visitors to property held open to the public
- Customers at a place of business
Property owners and occupiers owe the highest duty of care to invitees. Subject to differences in state law, property owners have a duty to conduct a routine inspection of their property for hazards. Owners also have a duty to warn visitors of known risks or exercise reasonable care to make the premises safe or clear any hazard.
A licensee is on the premises of another for reasons other than the financial benefit of the property owner. This category of visitor will be present through express or implied invitation as a social guest or other legal non-economic purposes. Common examples of licensees include:
- Uninvited door-to-door salespeople
Licensees are entitled to an intermediate level of legal protection under premises liability law subject to state law distinctions. A licensee must be warned about known hazards that a visitor is not likely to discover (referred to as “latent defects”). Unlike the duty owed to invitees, property owners do not have an obligation to inspect the premises to discover hazards to mitigate the undiscovered hazards.
Premises owners owe trespassers the lowest duty of care. While the definition of a trespasser differs somewhat based on the law of the jurisdiction, the term basically refers to someone on the premises without express or implied permission. The owner will only be liable to a trespasser for wanton or willful negligence or misconduct. While a property owner generally will not be liable for injury to a trespasser who falls into a ditch even if the owner knows of its existence, the property owner can be liable for setting a trap that injures the trespasser.
Modified Approach Based on Reasonable Care
As mentioned above, some jurisdictions have deemphasized the classification of visitors to the premises of another as the basis for defining the duty of care. In these jurisdictions, the courts often focus on the duty of a property owner to keep his property in a reasonably safe condition. The property owner or occupier in this type of jurisdiction must exercise reasonable care to discover and warm or mitigate hazards that could reasonably be anticipated to harm others.
Why Slip, Trip, and Fall Accidents Require Experienced Legal Representation
Although many people presume slip and fall accidents are relatively simple to litigate, the reality is that many personal injury cases involving falls are unsuccessful without a skilled attorney. Some of the reasons that you need a skilled and experienced lawyer to pursue a fall-related injury claim include:
Unfavorable Law: Many jurisdictions have adopted tough standards for plaintiffs to prevail in a slip and fall accident. Depending on your state, the law might make it difficult to prove liability for injuries caused by certain type of hazards or accidents that occur under specific circumstances.
Preservation of Evidence: Frequently, the object or substance that causes a fall disappears after the incident, so the preservation of other evidence becomes very important. Our law firm can send a notice advising the business that surveillance footages, accident reports related to the incident, and other relevant information must be maintained because of pending litigation.
Obtain Experts for Consultation and Testimony: Whether we are obtaining experts to evaluate slippery flooring or medical experts to testify about the nature of your injuries, our law firm works with renowned experts in their individual field of knowledge. Experts can be expensive, but our law firm typically advances litigation costs, such as expert witness fees.
Complex Factual Inquiry: Litigation of slip and fall accidents can be complicated because a careful factual analysis is usually required to prove the case. Many factors could be relevant to determining the liability of the business, such as:
- Inspection and maintenance routines and schedules
- Pattern of past accidents involving the same hazard
- Lighting and other environmental factors contributing to the fall
- Contributing violations of safety and building codes
- Length of time the hazard was present
- Effectiveness of attempts to clear the dangerous condition
Common Hazards Leading to Slip and Fall Accidents
Our slip and fall lawyers have successfully represented hundreds of people injured in a slip, trip, and fall accident. Because we have handled a wide range of fall-related injuries, the lawyers of our law firm have the experience and expertise to conduct an effective investigation and gather the evidence needed to maximize our clients’ recoveries.
Examples of some of the results we have obtained in slip, trip, and fall accidents include the following:
- $4.5 Million Verdict: Middle-aged man tripped over a support pole/base in a sidewalk after a light pole was removed. The fall victim needed multiple surgeries after suffering broken ribs and a fractured left wrist.
- $2,783,330 Verdict: Woman injured in fall when her shoe became lodged in rotted wooden planks of an elevated train platform. Her ankle fracture required ankle fusion and closed reduction.
- $400,000 Settlement: Tenant suffered injury when tripping on construction debris in common area of an apartment building. He suffered multiple right arm fractures requiring internal fixation and open reduction.
These are just a few examples of slip and fall settlements and judgments that we have obtained for our clients.
Some of the other unsafe conditions we handle include:
- Slippery or sticky floors
- Broken handrails or steps on stairways
- Bunched up carpets or areas rugs
- Wet or icy sidewalk
- Debris or merchandise in aisles
- Objects blocking walkways
- Cracked and uneven sidewalks
Slip and Fall at a Business: Next Steps
While legal representation by an experienced personal injury lawyers is essential when you seek legal compensation for fall-related injuries, there are steps that should be taken in the immediate aftermath of a slip and fall.
Seek Medical Treatment: If you suffer any form of injury, you should seek immediate medical attention. Prompt diagnostic screening and evaluation can preempt efforts by the other party’s insurance company to claim your injuries were caused by something other than the fall. Although you might believe that your injuries are minor, potentially life-threatening injuries do not always cause symptoms right away. For example, you might strike your head against an object or the floor during a fall. Bleeding within the skull can cause pressure on your brain to build over time without medical attention. Prompt medical treatment can be the difference between suffering no permanent issues and experiencing permanent brain damage or even death.
Report the Incident: The accident should be reported right away. If you think your fall was caused by the failure of the business to clear a dangerous condition, such as debris on the floor, you should make sure the cause of your fall is included in the accident report. You should also request a copy.
Gather Evidence: Photos of the location where the fall occurred along with the object that caused the fall can provide critical evidence. If there are factors that contributed to the accident like a cluttered or narrow aisleway or poor lighting, you should also attempt to capture images of such factors if possible. The names and contact information of witnesses who saw you fall or attended to you in the wake of your injury also should be obtained.
Seek Legal Advice: While you can take photos and gather witness information, there are steps you will want your lawyers to take as soon as possible. For example, our law firm might send the business a letter warning against “spoliation” of evidence. This notice advises the business that certain items like records related to the fall or CCTV footage of the incident are relevant to litigation, so the items must be preserved. The probability of a successful outcome in your slip and fall lawsuit increases exponentially if you seek legal advice and guidance promptly.
Do Not Talk to the Other Party’s Insurer: The insurance company for the business where your injury occurred might contact you to discuss the situation or request a recorded statement. The only person you should discuss your case with is YOUR personal injury attorney. Important: Do not talk to the insurance company for the other party until you have consulted a lawyer.
Elderly Americans Face Heightened Risk of Serious Falls
Falls because of the negligence of property owners cause significant injury to many people each year, but falls threaten the safety of seniors more than any other U.S. population group. One in four seniors (65+) falls each year resulting in injuries and fatalities. The severity of the accidents cannot be overstated given that falls are the leading cause of death for older Americans. According to the CDC, slip and fall and trip and fall accidents send a senior to the emergency room every eleven seconds and cause the death of an elderly person every 19 minutes. Older people that fall also tend to suffer more severe injuries than younger victims. Fractured hips and head injuries constitute the most common form of serious injuries suffered by elderly fall victims.
Damages for Injuries Suffered in Trip and Fall/Slip and Fall Accidents
Whether you trip on a broken step that has not been repaired or slip on a puddle created by a leaky air conditioning unit, you could suffer serious and even permanent injury. Some of the injuries that trip and fall victims suffer include:
- Broken bones & Fractures
- Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs)
- Spinal Cord Injuries (SCIs)
- Internal Bleeding
- Damage to Internal Organs
- Severe Joint Injuries
- Wrongful Death
While the specific compensation in a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit will depend on the unique facts and circumstances of the situation, some of the types of damages might include:
- Lost wages for time off work
- Diminished earning capacity
- Hospitalization, medical care, rehabilitation costs, and other medical expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of consortium
- Permanent disability
- Burial/Funeral (wrongful death)
- Punitive damages
Talk to a Premises Liability Attorney Today!
The attorneys at our premises liability injury law firm represent slip and fall and trip and fall victims who experience serious injuries. We invite you to speak with us for more information and an initial consultation. Contact us at 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529), or fill out our case inquiry form, or visit us in person.