When you fall and injure yourself on someone else’s property, calling a lawyer is something to immediately consider. Doing so increases your chances of being reimbursed for injuries as you sustain. However, there are several things it’s helpful to know before you call.
Making the Distinction Between Slip and Fall vs. Trip and Fall
An important issue in cases involving falls on someone’s property, also known as “Premises Liability” cases, is how you fell: did you slip or did you trip? Although it may seem like a minor point, for an injury lawsuit to be successful, you must be able to explain with detail how you fell.
Slip and Fall
In a slip and fall accident, your foot loses its traction while it’s on the ground due to a hazardous surface conditions like spilled liquid or ice. These accidents often occur as a result of inadequate maintenance and cleaning of stairways, sidewalks, building lobbies or walkways. Common examples of slips and falls include slipping on liquid in a grocery aisle, or on icy sidewalk that was not shoveled.
Slip and fall injury victims have a tendency to blame themselves for being “careless” when in actuality, the law requires property owners and other responsible parties to know about slipping hazards on their property and fix the condition.
Trip and Fall
In a trip and fall accidents, your foot contacts an object causing a stumble or loss of balance. Tripping hazards take many forms, from an uneven sidewalk, to improperly placed construction equipment, to a hole in the street.
Why You Should Contact an Attorney as Soon as Possible
The sooner you contact an attorney following a slip/trip or fall accident, the better. Why? Because your injuries turn out to be serious and a lawsuit ensues, your attorney will have gathered evidence that disappears or becomes harder to obtain as time passes. Accident scenes change, witness’s memories fade, hazardous conditions are fixed. Without such important pieces of evidence, success in an injury lawsuit becomes much more difficult.
Contacting your attorney immediately after a slip/trip and fall will allow immediate investigation, documenting, photographing and interviewing. When these steps are taken soon after your slip/trip and fall, your attorney will be better able to determine whether the property owner was aware of the hazard, or created it, one of which must be shown for a lawsuit to be successful.
What Is the Property Owner Responsible For?
Property owners are legally obligated to take all reasonable steps to avoid slip and fall negligence by ensuring that no slipping or tripping hazards exist on their property. This includes ensuring the prompt removal of ice and snow, mopping liquid spills on stairs and hallways, and removing objects that could cause someone to trip. If immediate removal or fixing of the hazard is not possible, the property owner must ensure that visitors are adequately warned of such conditions.
What if Owners Deny Liability?
Oftentimes, when someone slips or trips, the property owner claims that they didn’t know about the hazard. In such cases, it is important to have an experienced lawyer who knows how to demonstrate through evidence that the property owner should have known about the hazard, which from a legal perspective accomplishes the same thing as if they actually knew.
What if the Owner Admits Liability?
Some cases are handled out of court when the property owner admits liability and their insurance company fairly compensates the injured victim. In reality, except in the most egregious of cases, this outcome is rare.
Factors That Determine Whether You Have a Case
Whether the nature of your injury was slipping or tripping, your attorney must prove that the property owner has liability. They must be able to show in a courtroom that the property owners were responsible for the area in which you fell, and that they either knew or should have known about the hazardous condition or that they caused or created the hazardous condition.
Your New York City accident lawyer must also be able to show that your slip or trip was not caused entirely by your own carelessness or recklessness.
What You Need to Do Following a Premise Liability Injury
There are several steps after suffering an injury that you can take to help build your case for a settlement or judgment.
One of the most important things you can do immediately after falling is to take clear photographs of the hazardous condition, whether it’s an overly polished lobby floor, an icy patch on the sidewalk, or a physical obstruction. These photos will be invaluable evidence when your case reaches the court.
You should also get the names and contact information of anyone who witnessed your fall before they leave the scene. Get their names, phone numbers, email addresses, addresses, etc. Having witnesses confirm your version of the facts can significantly enhance your description of the accident in the eyes of a jury.
You should also make the owner aware that there was an accident on their property by reporting it to an appropriate person or asking for an accident report. Notifying the owner will ensure that your accident is confirmed and not denied in court.
Of course, you will also want to get medical treatment for your injuries as soon as possible after the accident has occurred. This, of course, will help avoid injuries getting worse, but it will also show that it was this fall that caused your injuries and not some other accident that happened before or after your fall.
And finally, you should contact an attorney who has knowledge and experience. Making an appointment to discuss your injury with lawyers that handle slip and fall cases as soon as possible will ensure that the appropriate, aforementioned steps are taken. An experienced attorney will be able to provide you with the right advice and guide you at each step of the process.
Injuries for Which You May Be Compensated
Slip/trip and fall accidents can result in several types of injury, including broken bones, torn ligaments and tendons, trauma to the head and brain, spinal cord injuries, and many more.
Losses for Which You May Be Able to Claim
A premises liability injury case can result in several losses. You may, for instance, require medical treatment for weeks, months, or years following your accident, resulting in expensive medical bills.
If your injuries prevent you from working, your lost wages and income can also be reimbursed.
Even if your injuries don’t cause you to miss work, they may prevent you from hobbies or activities you previously enjoyed, like exercising, traveling, or running errands. This is called pain and suffering damages, which can often be the most impactful side-effect of a slip or trip and fall.
Getting the Advice You Need from a Premise Liability Lawyer in New York City
A slip and fall or trip and fall accident can be stressful enough without the added frustration of not having a New York City accident lawyer to guide you through the complexities of personal injury lawsuits.
The Dearie Law Firm has the knowledge and expertise needed to ensure that all aspects of your case are handled properly and in a timely manner so that you can get the compensation you deserve. For more information about slip and fall or trip and fall litigation in New York, call the Dearie Law Firm today at (212) 970-6500.