From October through March, snowy and icy weather commonly strikes the north. Consequently, people routinely slip and fall on outdoor premises, causing severe and sometimes debilitating injuries that impact them for the rest of their lives.
In some instances, these slip-and-fall accidents occur because premises owners fail to remove snow and ice from their properties promptly. When that happens, and a property visitor slips, falls, and injures themselves, the visitor might be eligible to file a personal injury claim with the property owner’s insurance company or a personal injury lawsuit in court.
You will have legal options if you suffer injuries in a slip-and-fall accident that occurred on someone else’s premises. A knowledgeable premises liability lawyer can determine if you can file a personal injury claim based on your accident and the injuries you suffered. If so, your lawyer can help you file the appropriate claim and begin negotiating a settlement offer that fairly compensates you for your injuries, pain, suffering, and inconvenience.
If the insurance company refuses to take your case seriously, your lawyer can file a premises liability lawsuit in the court system, seeking various damages. Your lawyer can zealously advocate for you throughout the legal proceedings and work to pursue the maximum compensation available to you in your case.
Common Slip and Fall Injuries
When accident victims slip and fall on someone else’s premises, they may suffer debilitating injuries, some of which are permanent. A permanent injury will likely affect the accident victim for the rest of their life.
The injuries that an accident victim sustains in a slip-and-fall accident typically depend upon how they fall to the ground and the force with which they fall. Generally speaking, accident victims who land on their neck, back, or head, sustain the most severe injuries.
Typical slip-and-fall accident injuries include traumatic head and brain damage, paralysis, spinal cord injuries, open cuts, bruises, soft tissue injuries, and bone fractures.
If you or someone you love becomes involved in a slip-and-fall accident, you should seek medical treatment at a local urgent care facility or hospital emergency room as soon as possible. Seek this treatment even if you are unsure about the nature and extent of your injuries. This is because symptoms do not appear immediately in many scenarios. This is especially true with traumatic head injuries, like concussions and soft tissue injuries. In fact, injury symptoms may not appear for days or even weeks after the slip-and-fall accident.
When you seek medical treatment at an emergency facility, the provider on duty can physically examine you and render the appropriate medical diagnosis after ordering the necessary MRIs, CT scans, and X-rays.
If you need to undergo surgery, such as for a broken bone, the medical provider can schedule you for that procedure right away. Moreover, the provider can recommend future care if you require it. For example, you may need to consult with your primary care physician, a physical therapist, or an orthopaedic doctor for additional medical treatment.
While you continue treating your injuries, a knowledgeable premises liability lawyer can assist. Your lawyer can help you pursue monetary compensation for your injuries by preparing a settlement demand package on your behalf.
The settlement demand package will include a demand letter, along with copies of your medical reports, lost wage statements from your employer, photographs of your injuries, and other potential evidence to use in your case. Once you finish your medical treatment, your lawyer can submit the settlement demand package to the insurance company and pursue favourable compensation for your injuries.
Premises Owner Duties
Premises owners owe property visitors a high duty of care. The duty of care that a property owner owes to a visitor depends on the visitor’s status on the property.
Business invitees are individuals who visit a property to support the business owner financially. Standard classes of business invitees include shoppers or clients who are physically present on an owner’s business premises.
Property owners owe business invitees the highest duty of care. Owners must regularly inspect their premises for known and unknown hazardous conditions. If they come across a dangerous condition, they must either warn about or correct the situation within a reasonable time. Property owners have a duty to clear snow and ice from driveways, walkways, and other areas that business customers routinely use within a reasonable time. If they fail to do so, and a slip-and-fall accident occurs on snow or ice, the business owner may be responsible.
Property owners also owe social guests or licensees a similar duty of care. They may even owe a duty of care to trespassers if they are aware of a trespasser’s regular presence on the premises.
When a property visitor slips on snow and ice at someone’s personal residence, and they suffer injuries, they may be eligible to file a claim under the property owner’s homeowner insurance policy. Similarly, when businesses fail to follow the prevailing standard of care, and an accident occurs, the accident victim may be eligible to file a personal injury claim or a lawsuit against the premises owner’s insurance company for monetary damages.
A knowledgeable premises accident lawyer can identify the appropriate insurance company and take the necessary legal action on your behalf. Your lawyer can then negotiate with the insurance company adjuster and pursue favourable settlement compensation for you.
The Burden of Proof in a Slip-and-fall Claim
In any premises liability claim, the injured slip-and-fall accident victim has the sole legal burden of proof. This means they must establish every element of their personal injury claim or lawsuit.
First, the accident victim must show that the property owner violated their duty of care in some way. For example, the owner might have failed to clear snow and ice from their parking lot or sidewalks within a reasonable period of time. Next, the slip-and-fall accident victim must demonstrate that the property owner’s failure caused the accident. Finally, they must show that they suffered at least one physical injury—and that their injury directly resulted from the incident.
When a premises accident victim can demonstrate the legal elements of their claim, they may be eligible to recover damages in the form of monetary compensation.
To help you prove the legal elements of your claim or lawsuit, a premises accident lawyer can help you retain one or more experts. An accident reconstructionist, for example, can visit the accident scene, speak with witnesses to the occurrence, review photographs, and piece together exactly how your accident happened. Expert accident reconstructionists are typically necessary when an insurance company disputes fault for the subject accident.
Moreover, your lawyer can retain a medical expert who can testify on your behalf at a deposition or jury trial. To a reasonable degree of medical certainty, a medical expert can establish that you suffered a permanent injury in your accident that is likely to cause you ongoing pain and other symptoms. A medical expert can also causally relate all of your injuries to the slip-and-fall accident on someone else’s premises.
Deadline to File a Personal Injury Claim for Damages
Premises accidents fall under the umbrella of personal injury claims. Therefore, slip-and-fall accident victims have a limited period to file a claim or lawsuit for monetary damages. Specifically, slip-and-fall accident victims have only two years from their accident date to seek economic relief. The statute of limitations time clock starts to run on the date of the accident and ends precisely two years later. If the accident victim files their lawsuit in court even one day late, the court will prevent them from recovering monetary damages for their injuries.
Given this short statutory timeframe, you should seek an experienced lawyer to represent you in your premises liability case as soon as possible. Generally speaking, the sooner you retain legal representation, the better off you will be. A lawyer can immediately start investigating your case and may file a lawsuit on your behalf in the event that the statutory time clock is running short. Your lawyer can then negotiate with the insurance company and, if necessary, litigate your case in court.
Filing a Personal Injury Claim with the Property Owner’s Insurer
If you are eligible to file a claim following a slip-and-fall accident, your lawyer can file the claim with the property owner’s insurer. The claim filing process begins when your lawyer submits a settlement demand package to the insurance company. If the adjuster accepts liability for the accident, they may start settlement negotiations.
A knowledgeable slip-and-fall accident lawyer can be beneficial during the settlement negotiation process. This is because most insurance company adjusters will make lowball offers, at least from the onset. Insurance companies, after all, are businesses, and their adjusters will do everything possible to avoid making a large monetary payout.
Your lawyer can vigorously negotiate on your behalf and pursue additional settlement compensation from the adjuster. If that does not happen, your lawyer can always file litigation and, if necessary, file a lawsuit in court.
Recovering the Damages You Deserve
If you suffered injuries in a slip-and-fall accident, you might be eligible for monetary damages from the property owner’s insurance company. The damages that you may recover will depend upon the severity of your injuries, the pain and suffering you experienced, and whether you missed time from work due to your injuries.
When injured individuals have to attend medical and physical therapy appointments, they may need to take time off from work to recover from their injuries. In those situations, accident victims may be eligible to pursue lost wage compensation. If they suffer such severe injuries that they have to switch jobs and take a pay cut, they may be eligible to recover compensation for loss of earning capacity.
In addition, slip-and-fall accident victims might be eligible to recover monetary compensation for their inconvenience, mental distress, pain and suffering, loss of the ability to use a body part, loss of life enjoyment, permanent disfigurement, and loss of spousal companionship.
When it comes to pain and suffering, accident victims may recover monetary damages for both past and future pain and suffering. Past pain and suffering damages compensate accident victims for everything they experienced between their slip and fall accident date to the present time. Future pain and suffering damages compensate accident victims for the anticipated symptoms they will likely experience well into the future.
A knowledgeable slip-and-fall accident lawyer can help you pursue favourable monetary compensation by aggressively negotiating with insurance company adjusters and, if necessary, fighting for your legal rights in the court system and litigating your case to an efficient and favourable resolution.
Call an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer About Your Slip-and-fall Case Today.
If you sustained injuries in a slip-and-fall accident that occurred on someone else’s property, you should have knowledgeable legal representation throughout your entire case. Once you retain a lawyer to represent you, your lawyer can begin an investigation and open a claim with the appropriate insurance company.
Even if you believe your case to be an open-and-shut case, trying to take on an insurance company is seldom a good idea. Insurance companies are often quite large and have hundreds of employees. The adjusters and lawyers it employs will try to shift the blame for the accident onto you. Only an experienced lawyer will best know how to prevent the insurance company from doing this to you.
Your lawyer can also assist during settlement negotiations and pursue a favourable settlement offer from the claims adjuster handling your case. If the insurance company fails to offer sufficient compensation, your lawyer can file a lawsuit, assist you during the discovery phase of litigation, and represent you in all legal proceedings, including civil jury trials and out-of-court binding arbitration proceedings.
Your lawyer will aggressively advocate for you and fight for your right to recover the monetary compensation you deserve.