Slip and fall accidents commonly occur from slippery floors, an unseen hazard, or simple clumsiness. Most of the time, you can walk away without any significant injuries. However, no one can ever truly predict an accident’s outcome. If you suffer serious injuries due to someone else’s negligence, you need to know what to do after a slip and fall accident.
Slip and Fall Accidents Overview
If you slip on a spill on your own kitchen floor, it’s no one else’s fault.
According to premises liability, if you slip on someone else’s property, they are typically liable under personal injury law. Property owners are responsible for keeping their property safe for visitors. Regardless of what that property is, the owner owes a duty of care to their visitors.
The unsafe conditions that can lead to a slip and fall accident are numerous:
- Missing warning signs
- Poor lighting
- Faulty handrails
- Torn carpeting
- Loose objects
- Cracks or potholes in the sidewalk
- Patches of ice and snow
- Puddles of rain
Regardless of the reason, if you sustained injuries on someone else’s property, you may have grounds for a case. You could recover compensation for medical bills, lost income, and even your pain and suffering. However, to maximize your chances of a successful personal injury claim, you must take the right steps immediately after the accident.
What To Do After a Slip, Trip, and Fall Accident
While you can’t anticipate a slip, trip, and fall accident, you can at least prepare for it. Here are five steps to building a better legal case down the line.
- Seek medical care: If you or a loved one was injured in a slip and fall accident, your priority should always be to contact a medical professional. This ensures that your injuries will be properly assessed and treated, and you will receive proper documentation of your injuries. Medical records are essential pieces of evidence in slip and fall cases.
- Report to the authorities: Regardless of the site of your accident, you need to report it to the property’s owner, manager, or landlord. Do not leave the site without asking them to create a written report and give you a copy. Getting all the details in writing is important.
- Document everything you can: Take out your phone and take photos of the exact location of your accident. Try to cover as many angles as possible. Get pictures of any conditions that may have contributed to the accident, like slippery patches, stairs, wires, etc. Note the exact time and date, what you were doing before the accident occurred, how the accident occurred, and other relevant details. It is also good to collect contact information from any potential witnesses. If your claim is questioned, their testimonies could help prove it. Lastly, store the clothing and shoes you were wearing during the accident in a safe and secure place. These may become necessary pieces of evidence later on.
- Do not give statements: Your words can and will be used against you. Do not make posts on social media regarding the accident. Furthermore, do not give statements to any insurance company before you speak to a lawyer. You do not want to assume blame for the incident mistakenly.
- Contact an experienced personal injury lawyer: Navigating the complex legal system is difficult on your own. To maximize your chances of a successful claim, you need a lawyer on your side. Personal injury lawyers have the expertise and resources to build the best case possible, even when proving your claim may be difficult.
What You Must Prove To Win Your Case
There is no exact science for proving fault in a slip and fall accident, as every case is different. However, some general rules can help determine if someone else was truly at fault for your injury. You must be able to prove that:
- Your accident was caused by a dangerous condition.
- The property owner should have been aware of the dangerous condition.
- The dangerous condition posed an unreasonable risk to visitors on the property.
- Visitors could not have reasonably expected the dangerous condition.
To establish that the property owner is liable for the condition, you must be able to prove that:
- The owner created the condition.
- The owner knew about the condition and did not correct it.
- The condition existed long enough that the owner should have discovered and addressed it before the accident occurred.
- The condition must have posed a foreseeable risk to visitors on the property.
You must have exercised due diligence in avoiding an accident. Examples include observing the area where you are walking or taking heed of posted warning signs. If it can be ruled that your own carelessness did not cause the accident, you have a better chance of proving your claim.
To further illustrate the point, here is a simple example. Say that you were taking a walk in a park when you slipped on an icy patch on a walkway.
- If there were adequate warnings (like a slippery floor sign) or the icy patch was easily observable, the accident would have been your fault.
- If the property owner performed regular snow and ice removal and freshly made the icy patch, they were not negligent and thus not at fault. While property owners are indeed responsible for their visitors’ safety, they cannot be expected to be omniscient.
- If the icy patch existed for a while, and the property owner neglected their maintenance duties, they were negligent and likely at fault.
There may be additional considerations depending on the type of property your accident occurred on.
Examples of commercial properties include shopping centers, restaurants, hotels, grocery stores, and other businesses. There are typically several people or entities that could be held responsible for an accident on commercial property. If your accident happened on commercial property, the owner (or one of their employees) must have:
- Caused the dangerous condition (including spills, worn or torn spots, or slippery surfaces)
- Known about the dangerous condition but did not address it
- Should have reasonably known about the dangerous condition and did not address it
The third situation is the most common and the most difficult to prove. The law has to decide whether the property owner took reasonable steps to keep the property safe.
Can you sue someone for falling on their property? Yes, you can. Homeowners and landlords need to keep their property safe for visitors. Even if you are visiting friends or family, you can sue if you were injured on their property.
To establish responsibility in a residential setting, you must prove that:
- The landlord or homeowner had control over the dangerous condition.
- Addressing the condition would not have been unreasonably difficult or expensive.
- The condition posed a foreseeable risk of serious injury.
- The landlord or homeowner’s failure to address the condition directly led to your injury.
If your slip and fall injury occurred on government property, you must follow strict rules when filing a claim. Requirements vary from state to state, but they typically involve advance notice and a shorter filing deadline. You might also find that certain immunity provisions protect the government institution you are suing.
In California, you need to file a claim within six months of the accident. If your claim is denied within 45 days, you have six months to file a court case. If your claim is not responded to, you have two years from the date of the accident to file a court case.
Slip & Fall Statistics
If you have never sustained serious injuries from a slip and fall, filing a lawsuit might seem excessive. However, slip and fall injuries can have life-changing consequences. Here are a few interesting statistics you should know:
- One in five falls results in a serious injury, such as a head injury or broken bones.
- Most traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are caused by falls.
- Half of all accidental deaths in the home are caused by falls.
- Every year, over 800,000 patients experience fall injuries. The most common injuries are hip fractures and head injuries.
- Falls are the leading cause of emergency room visits, accounting for eight million or 21.3%.
- The likelihood of a fall goes up with every decade of life.
- One in three elderly adults falls each year. Yet, less than half will inform their doctor.
- 67% of all fall-related deaths involve adults aged 75 or older.
- Falls are the leading cause of injury-related death for adults aged 85 or older. They are the second leading cause of injury-related death for adults aged 65–84.
- 87% of all fractures experienced by adults over 65 are caused by falls.
- Over 95% of hip fractures are caused by falls.
- Adults aged 85 or older are 10 to 15 times more likely to suffer a fall-related hip fracture than adults aged 60–65.
- After being hospitalized for a hip fracture, half of all adults aged 65 or older cannot live independently or return home.
- Fall-related injuries lead to 40% of all nursing home admissions.
- Slip and fall injuries are the leading cause of occupational injury for adults aged 55 or older. They are also the leading cause of workers’ compensation claims.
- Medical costs for non-fatal fall injuries total around $50 billion every year. Fatal fall injuries total around $754 million. Of those amounts, $12 billion is paid out-of-pocket. Medicaid pays for around $9 billion, while Medicare pays for approximately $29 billion.
Get the Assistance of Experienced Slip and Fall Lawyers
Unexpected injuries can change your life for the worse. If you have been injured due to someone else’s negligence, you deserve compensation. Feel free to reach out to us at (213) 252-1070 or through our online form — we operate on a no recovery, no fee basis. Our experienced lawyers are prepared to provide you with the legal assistance you need for a successful slip and fall case in Los Angeles, Orange County, and other surrounding areas.