Fall injuries are the leading cause of hospital emergency room visits. Each year, more than one of every four older adults will suffer a fall and about 800,000 patients are admitted to hospitals, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Falls are a leading cause of traumatic brain injuries and the third leading cause of death from unintentional injuries, the CDC reports. Falls can cause severe injuries at any age, including hip fractures, back injuries and head injuries, making it difficult to live independently.
If you’ve been injured in a slip (or trip) and fall accident on someone else’s property, it is important to understand your legal rights. Our attorneys have handled thousands of injury cases in 30 years and can explain your legal options. The property owner may be at fault and have an obligation to compensate you for your accident-related losses. You may be able to pursue legal action after falling at a retail store, shopping mall, hotel, restaurant, office building, or a public place, like a park or stadium.
If you or a loved one was hurt in a slip and fall, our skilled Kentucky slip and fall lawyers may be able to help you pursue compensation for your medical bills, lost income and more. Contact us today for a free consultation about how a dedicated attorney at Becker Law Office can help you.
Where Do These Accidents Happen?
Slip and trip injuries can happen almost anywhere. However, there are certain locations where fall injuries commonly occur. They include:
Managers at grocery stores, malls, shopping centers and other retail establishments have a responsibility to be sure that spills are cleaned up promptly, aisles are not blocked by merchandise or other materials and that warning signs are posted when custodial work has left floors wet and slippery.
Customers and employees at fast-food and sit-down restaurants face hazards from liquid spills, clutter, and wet floors around entrance doors.
NSU Hospitality reports that slip and falls are the top cause of hotel injuries each year, with 70 percent occurring on flat walking surfaces.
Large public performance venues typically have multiple levels connected by ramps, stairways, escalators and elevators that represent a hazard if they are not dry, well-lit and properly maintained. Bleachers and other seating that is not properly maintained can cause falls that lead to injury.
Federal and state regulations require employers to provide employees with training, safety equipment and other safeguards to avoid falls and injuries at construction sites, manufacturing plants, offices and other job sites. The National Floor Safety Institute (NFSI) reports
that 85 percent of workers’ compensation claims are attributed to employees slipping on slick floors.
The elderly and infirm living in nursing homes and other residential care environments are particularly vulnerable to serious injury in slip-and-fall accidents. Retirement homes should know which residents are at-risk for falling, and follow protocols for monitoring and assisting these individuals.
Homeowners also have responsibility for the safety of visitors. A slip-and-fall accident caused by a hole in the yard, slippery floors, a broken step or cluttered stairs at a private residence can cause serious fall injuries.
With the help of a hardworking Kentucky slip and fall lawyer, an injured individual can take legal action against the property owner or against the renter occupying the property if this owner or renter was negligent about fixing a property hazard in a timely fashion or failed to adequately warn of a hazard that could not be repaired right away.
Businesses and homeowners have liability insurance to cover these kinds of accidents. Our fall injury attorney will negotiate with the insurance company to seek compensation for your losses. You should not hesitate to talk with a personal injury attorney because you are concerned about suing a neighbor or local store owner. Any compensation you receive will not come out of their pocket. It will come from an insurance settlement.
Protecting Your Legal Rights After a Trip and Fall
A slip-and-fall accident can leave you dazed and injured. After an accident, you need to take steps to preserve the evidence that you may need to prove your injury claim. The following tips are helpful if you are hurt in a slip-and-fall accident:
- Get medical attention. If you are hurt, get prompt medical treatment. If necessary, call emergency medical services. If you are injured but still capable of moving normally, you should still get a medical evaluation. Some injuries may not show up for hours. A medical evaluation will help you get ahead of your injuries. It will create a detailed medical record of your injuries that will help with your claim.
- Report the accident. Report the accident to the owner or manager of the property. This will put them on notice that an accident has taken place and they will begin to coordinate with their insurer. Provide a summary of the accident and stick to the facts. Don’t blame the property owner, but do let them know the facts of what happened.
- Take photos of the accident scene. If you are able, take photos of the accident scene immediately after the accident. These photos will show important information about the accident scene including lighting, weather, floor conditions, and any other hazards such as items you could have tripped over. Accident scenes can change quickly and property hazards can be repaired. The more you can capture about the scene at the time of the accident, the better.
- Follow your doctor’s orders. If you receive medical treatment for your injuries, be sure to follow the doctor’s orders. In a slip-and-fall claim, you’ll need to prove that your injuries required extensive treatment and that you have done everything required.
- Do not wash or throw away shoes and clothes. Your clothes may provide important information about your claim. If you’re involved in a slip-and-fall claim, don’t dispose of them after an accident even if they’re ruined.
- Contact an experienced slip and fall attorney to discuss the appropriate steps to take. The process will move fast, and you may start receiving calls from insurers and other parties. An attorney can manage the claims process for you.
How Trip and Fall Injuries Happen
When you are at someone’s property or out in public, certain factors increase your chances of slipping and falling. Common reasons for these accidents include:
Spills or tracked-in rainwater should be promptly cleaned up. After floors are mopped, signs should warn visitors of wet floors.
Merchandise, supplies, equipment, trash or debris in store aisles, corridors or walkways can create a tripping hazard. When shelves or displays are overstocked and items fall from them, this creates slip- or trip-and-fall hazards.
Property owners are responsible for removing snow and ice that accumulates on sidewalks, steps, stairs, parking lots and other walkways. In some cases, local ordinances specify how much time a property owner has after a snowfall or other weather event to clear slippery sidewalks, driveways, and steps.
Property owners should not neglect torn carpet, loose floor tiles, floorboards, loose stair treads or broken handrails. They can shift under a person’s weight and cause the individual to slip and fall. Stairs that are made too steep and/or with narrow treads can cause falls, as well.
Holes, trenches and other openings beside the road, in parking lots and in other paved areas should be covered or marked with warning signs or fencing.
Changes in the height of the floor or ground should be adequately marked, such as with a bright yellow stripe. Property owners must maintain flooring surfaces to ensure that wear and tear do not cause holes or uneven transitions to develop that create tripping hazards.
Poor lighting makes it difficult to see stairway steps and to recognize changes in a walking surface. Moving from a lighted space into the dark can also cause a temporary vision loss that can result in a fall.
When someone is hurt in a trip and fall incident, the amount of money they can recover from the party responsible for the accident will vary in part depending upon how badly they were hurt, whether the individual was fully or partly at fault and the insurance policies available. Common injuries that include:
NFSI reports that falls cause 87 percent of bone fractures in adults ages 65 and up. Hip fractures are a common result of slip and falls among the elderly, but anyone of any age can break a bone in a fall.
Hitting your head in a fall can cause you to develop a brain injury, which may lead to cognitive impairment, bleeding in the brain, seizures, and other symptoms. The consequences of a traumatic brain injury from a fall can be very severe, if not fatal.
NFSI reports that falls are the second most common cause of spinal cord damage in adults over the age of 65. Anyone who falls on their back could potentially damage the spinal cord and experience full or partial paralysis.
These injuries can include damage to the soft tissues including the muscles, joints, and ligaments. Strains, sprains, and herniated discs can result from falls.
Injuries to the knee from a fall may include damage to soft tissues including sprains, strains, and tears.
The CDC reports that falls are the leading cause of death for adults ages 65 and up. Young children also are especially vulnerable to fatal head injuries as a result of a slip and fall.
Many of these injuries can have serious consequences and you may be forced to undergo lengthy and expensive medical treatments and rehabilitation. Your ability to work may be affected, and you may experience ongoing pain.
The law allows you to be “made whole” for injuries and losses caused by another’s carelessness or disregard for safety. You can seek compensation for all of the costs and consequences of fall accidents, including medical bills, lost income/wages, pain and suffering, and emotional distress. If the fall caused fatal injury, then the surviving family members can claim compensation for loss of companionship and other wrongful death damages. Fortunately, a seasoned Kentucky lawyer could help to calculate the full extent of a person’s losses following a slip and fall accident, in order to file a thorough claim.
Taking Legal Action
When someone is injured in a serious accident on someone else’s property, they may be able to make a personal injury claim against the person who owned the property or who was renting and responsible for the maintenance on the property. To bring a successful claim, however, they need to show that:
- Their injuries resulted from a fall on the defendant’s property.
- The property owner or renter had a legal obligation to the claimant to make the property safe. This means they had a legal right to be on the property, and were not a trespasser.
- The owner fell short in fulfilling that obligation
- The claimant suffered harm as a result of the owner’s negligence.
Another factor to keep in mind is what is known as the open and obvious rule. This refers to a danger that a reasonable person would recognize and avoid, such as an open construction pit. The law assumes that a reasonable person would avoid an open and obvious danger.
In addition, Kentucky, Indiana and other states observe the doctrine of “contributory negligence,” which says that compensation, or “damages,” in a personal injury claim may be reduced if the injured person’s own actions contributed to the accident.
For example, if you climbed over a safety barrier, such as a fence or wall, to look at some kind of a drop-off and fell, then you may not have a valid claim. If you were staring at your phone when you entered an office lobby with freshly mopped floors and slipped and fell, your inattention might adversely affect the amount of damages you could recover in a claim.
The Possibility of a Settlement
There are many ways to recover after a slip-and-fall accident. These include:
- Medical treatment after the accident and future medical care related to your injuries. Slip-and-fall accidents can have serious consequences that can require long-lasting care. A slip-and-fall claim can include the cost of your treatment and any rehabilitation or physical treatment in the future.
- Lost wages and diminished earning capacity in the future. Slip-and-fall accidents can leave you hurting. You may be out of work for days, months, and in some cases years. If you were harmed in a slip-and-fall accident, you may be able to recover the wages you’ve lost and will lose in the future due to the accident.
- Pain and suffering damages. Slip-and-fall accidents can lead to lasting physical and emotional harm. You may be able to recover for the emotional damage that an accident caused. Depression, anxiety, insomnia, and many other problems can result from an accident. These and other forms of compensation may be available. An attorney can review the facts of your case and help determine what options may be available.
Contact a Kentucky Slip and Fall Attorney for Assistance
Proving fault in these trip and spill case can be complicated, but if you were seriously hurt on someone else’s property, you should explore the potential to make a claim. The Kentucky slip and fall lawyers at Becker Law Office will review the details of your accident and discuss your options for pursuing a claim.
You should contact Becker Law Office as soon as possible after a fall on someone else’s property that results in a significant injury. We can get to work right away and preserve evidence from the accident scene to support your claim.
There are the steps you can take to protect your rights after a fall, including:
If you have not yet been to a doctor after a fall, you should see a doctor as soon as possible. In addition to getting medical care, a visit to the doctor documents your injuries for a claim.
Inform the property owner or property manager that you were injured on their property. Ask to file a formal report or, if you can’t, notify them in writing (email or postal mail) about what happened.
If someone was with you when you fell, or someone has helped you since the accident, get them to describe your accident and your injury. Record your own description of what happened, too.
Start a file and save everything connected to your accident, such as a copy of the accident report or your letter, all bills, receipts and correspondence from insurers or others; and any personal property damaged in the fall, such as clothing, jewelry, phone.
Do not discuss your injuries or a potential legal claim on social media. You may be tempted to let your friends know about your accident by announcing it through social media. But that can come back to haunt you. Don’t make negative statements about the property or business where you fell, the owners, insurers, or anyone involved in the accident. You can easily say something that insurance company lawyers will use against you to deny your claim.
The property owner, their lawyer or their insurer may contact you quickly with an offer of money. They are seeking to limit their liability. By accepting a check, you may give up your right to the full settlement. A fast settlement is usually a small settlement. An experienced slip and fall attorney can compare your accident and injuries to any settlement offer and advise you what you may reasonably expect.