When property owners and operators fail to take care of their premises, slip and fall accidents that lead to severe injuries may occur. In some instances, premises owners fail to clear snow and ice from their properties promptly, while at other times, they may fail to maintain floors and walkways in heavily trafficked areas.
When a person slips and falls on the ground, they may suffer serious injuries that require immediate medical treatment, surgeries, and ongoing rehabilitation.
Can you sue for a slip and fall? If you or someone you care about suffered injuries in a slip and fall accident on someone else’s premises, you have legal options. In addition to seeking prompt medical treatment for your slip and fall injuries, you should contact a knowledgeable lawyer in your area to handle your case and assist you throughout the settlement and litigation processes.
Your lawyer can explore your legal options and determine if you are eligible to file a claim for damages. If so, your lawyer can file the claim with the property owner’s insurance company. Moreover, if the insurance company will not offer you the total damages you deserve for your slip and fall injuries, your lawyer can file a lawsuit on your behalf and litigate your case to an efficient conclusion in court. For more information, reach out to our Edmonton slip and fall lawyer.
Common Causes of Slip and Fall Accidents
Slip and fall accidents usually happen when property owners are negligent in some way. A negligent property owner is one who fails to act reasonably under the circumstances. For example, they may not clean up a spill or repair a defect in time to avoid a slip-and-fall accident.
Slip and falls can happen both outdoors and indoors. Outdoor accidents typically occur in parking lots and parking garages and result from failing to remove snow or ice in a timely manner—or from concrete spalling and cracking. Indoor slip and fall accidents usually happen at restaurants or supermarkets, where food and liquid may spill onto the ground, creating a fall hazard.
In a slip and fall accident case, the accident victim who falls has the legal burden of proof. Therefore, they must establish every legal element of their claim to recover monetary compensation. First, they must establish that the premises owner owed them a duty of care.
The duty that a premises owner owes to a property visitor depends upon the visitor’s status on the property. Business invitees, for example, are individuals who are present on the owner’s property to serve a business purpose. Shoppers at a store and restaurant patrons are examples of business invitees.
A property owner owes a business invitee the highest legal duty of care. Specifically, the owner must inspect their property for known and unknown dangerous conditions, such as leaks or spills. If they become aware of a hazardous situation, they must promptly warn about it or repair it.
Unlike business invitees, licenses are social guests on someone else’s property. Also, unlike an invitee, a licensee is present on another person’s property for their own purpose and benefit. Property owners owe social guests a similar duty of care to business invitees. Specifically, the owner must inspect their property for latent defects, and if they come across one, promptly warn about or correct it.
Trespassers are individuals who are present on someone else’s property without the owner’s permission. In most situations, the property owner does not owe a trespasser a legal duty of care. However, if the trespasser is a child—or if the property owner becomes aware of the trespasser’s frequent presence on the premises—the owner may owe the trespasser some legal duty of care.
In addition to establishing that a duty of care exists, the slip and fall victim must demonstrate that the property owner violated their duty of care in some way. For example, they may not have warned about or corrected the dangerous defect on their property within a reasonable time.
As a result of this breach of care, the slip and fall accident must have occurred. Finally, the slip and fall accident must have resulted in the fall victim suffering one or more injuries.
If you or someone you love suffered injuries in a recent slip and fall accident, you must retain experienced legal counsel to represent you right away. Your lawyer can investigate the circumstances leading up to your accident and determine your claim-filing eligibility. If you are eligible to file a personal injury claim, your lawyer can do so—and, if necessary, file a lawsuit to pursue the maximum damages you deserve.
Slip and Fall Accident Injuries
The injuries that slip and fall accident victims suffer are usually severe and may affect the accident victim for the rest of their life. Specific injuries typically depend upon how the accident victim falls to the ground, as well as the body part(s) which strike the ground. The force with which they hit the ground may also affect the severity of their injuries.
Typical slip-and-fall accident injuries include:
- Broken bones.
- Rib fractures.
- Traumatic head and brain injuries.
- Internal organ damage.
- Soft tissue injuries.
- Cuts and abrasions.
- Spinal cord injuries.
- Full or partial paralysis injuries.
After a slip and fall accident, you must seek follow-up medical care at a local emergency room or urgent care center immediately. You should seek this treatment even if you are unsure about the seriousness of your injuries. This is because symptoms of many injuries, including traumatic head and brain injuries, may not become apparent right away. Actually, it may take several days—or even weeks—before certain injury symptoms manifest. Therefore, you should seek emergency medical treatment as soon as possible to increase your chances of a speedy recovery.
At an emergency room or urgent care center, the medical provider on duty can physically examine you and order the necessary CT scans, MRIs, and X-rays, to diagnose your medical condition. If you require emergency surgery or other procedures at the hospital, your doctor can order that for you. Moreover, the provider on duty can make recommendations for future care and treatment. For example, if you suffered a broken bone in your slip and fall, you may need to follow up with your primary care doctor, an orthopedic doctor, and a physical therapist.
Seeking prompt and continuous medical treatment after a slip and fall accident may also benefit your personal injury case. Insurance companies like to see ongoing medical treatment and become skeptical when accident victims wait too long to treat. For example, the insurance company may assume that your injuries were not severe or that you did not make follow-up medical treatment a top priority after your accident.
While you finish treating for your slip and fall injuries, your lawyer may begin gathering your medical records, lost wages documents, victim impact statements, photographs, and investigation reports. Once you complete your treatment, your lawyer can submit all of these documents to the insurance company and begin the settlement negotiation process. If the insurance company does not offer you fair monetary compensation, your lawyer can file a lawsuit and initiate litigation in the court system.
Filing a Slip and Fall Claim
Before filing a lawsuit after your slip and fall accident, your lawyer will need to file a personal injury claim with the insurance company on your behalf. In most cases, your lawyer will file this claim with the insurance company for the at-fault premises owner.
If the insurance company decides to accept fault for your slip and fall accident, your lawyer can begin negotiating a settlement with the insurance company on your behalf. However, you make the final decision about whether to accept or reject a pending settlement offer that an adjuster puts on the table.
In most cases, it will take several rounds of negotiations between the personal injury lawyer and the adjuster before the parties resolve their case through settlement. This is because most initial offers from insurance companies are far below the actual value of a personal injury claim.
Insurance company adjusters are usually in a hurry to settle their claims as quickly and cheaply as possible. Therefore, they will usually start out low and only increase their offer if the accident victim’s lawyer is a good negotiator—or files a lawsuit in court.
After several rounds of negotiations, the parties may decide to resolve their case via settlement, or they may reach an impasse. When that happens, your slip-and-fall lawyer can file a lawsuit in the court system and pursue favourable damages through litigation.
Filing a Lawsuit After a Slip and Fall Accident
When your lawyer files a lawsuit following a slip and fall, they will typically name the property owner as a defendant. Even though the named defendant is the at-fault premises owner, the insurance company will pay out any settlement compensation, jury verdict, or arbitration award you receive.
Once your lawyer files a lawsuit, settlement negotiations may still continue. Moreover, filing a lawsuit places a personal injury case on the court’s radar. Most courts will issue a scheduling order establishing various dates and deadlines for the accident claim. Specifically, the court may set a date for discovery, as well as pre-trial settlement conference and jury trial dates.
Once a defense lawyer enters an appearance in the case on behalf of the property owner, the parties may engage in written and oral discovery. Discovery allows for the parties to learn more about each side’s respective version of the case. Parties will typically exchange additional documents and answer written questions, called interrogatories.
Moreover, the premises owner’s lawyer may take the accident victim’s discovery deposition to find out how they may testify in court, should the case go to trial.
Once discovery concludes, the insurance company may offer additional money to resolve the case through settlement. However, if that does not happen, the parties can take their case to a trial.
At a slip-and-fall accident trial, the parties present evidence to the jury or judge, after which jurors it judge decide the amount of monetary compensation to award the accident victim. As an alternative to a jury trial, the parties may consider binding arbitration, where a neutral, third-party arbitrator hears evidence in the case. The arbitrator then decides the amount of compensation to award the slip and fall accident victim within certain predetermined high/low parameters.
Your lawyer can assist you with every step of the litigation process, including negotiating with the insurance company adjuster and representing you at all court hearings and trials. If your case goes to a jury trial or binding arbitration hearing, your lawyer will zealously advocate for your interests, introduce supporting evidence, and work to get you the full amount of compensation you deserve for your injuries.
Filing a Timely Slip and Fall Lawsuit
To recover monetary damages in a slip-and-fall case, your lawyer must file a lawsuit on your behalf on time. Slip and fall accident victims only have two years from their accident date to file suit. If they file suit even one day late, the court will prevent them from recovering monetary damages. Therefore, involving a slip-and-fall accident lawyer as soon as possible after your accident is essential.
A lawyer can promptly file a claim or lawsuit in your case, begin settlement negotiations, and assist you throughout the litigation process.
Call an Experienced Slip and Fall Lawyer Today
If you suffered injuries in a slip and fall accident on someone else’s premises, an experienced lawyer can help you throughout your case. If the insurance company refuses to take your case seriously after your lawyer files a personal injury claim, your lawyer can file a lawsuit and litigate your case to a prompt conclusion in the court system.
The ultimate goal of litigation is to maximize the monetary recovery you receive. Potential damages may include compensation for lost wages, inconvenience, pain and suffering, permanent disability, loss of earning capacity, loss of life enjoyment, loss of use of a body part, and loss of spousal consortium.
After filing suit in your case, your lawyer will aggressively negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf and, if necessary, take your case to a civil jury trial or binding arbitration hearing. For more information, reach out to our Edmonton personal injury lawyer.
Contact a lawyer today to receive your consultation.