On average, slip and fall injuries account for over a million emergency room visits each year. Falls are also the leading cause of construction workplace deaths, missed time from work, and workers’ compensation claims in the United States.
After you’ve addressed your injuries, consult an experienced attorney about your situation. When you hold the responsible party accountable for your injury, you are taking care of yourself and protecting others who may also be hurt by this person’s negligence. The attorneys at SteinLaw have extensive experience in all types of personal injury and workplace injury cases, so please read through the following information about slip and fall cases. If you think a recent injury may constitute a lawsuit, reach out to our firm for a free consultation.
Slip and fall cases typically arise from unsafe premises. Property owners have a legal obligation to ensure their facilities and grounds pose no danger to lawful visitors or occupants. The law categorizes visitors on private property into three groups:
- Invitees. The law classifies anyone with express or implied permission to enter a property as an invitee. This typically applies to relatives, friends, neighbors, and anyone else the owner of a property invites onto it for reasons other than business.
- Licensees. This category includes those with express or implied permission from the property owner to enter the property for their own purposes. This classification usually applies to contractors, salespeople, and other visitors entering the property for business reasons.
- Trespassers. The law considers anyone who is not allowed on the property a trespasser. Property owners are not legally obligated to protect trespassers from harm, so an unlawful visitor on the property will have little chance of successfully suing the property owner for injuries. The exception to this rule is children. The courts treat trespassing minors differently. Since they can’t make the same decisions as adults, and a property owner will likely be held accountable for injuries a child sustains while on the property, regardless of whether or not the owner gave express consent to the child to enter the property.
Premises liability law is similar to personal injury law in that property owners have a duty of care to ensure their property is safe and free of hazards to visitors. Property owners must thoroughly warn visitors of any known hazards on the property. If a property owner fails to address a safety hazard or fails to warn visitors about the hazard, a judge will likely find them negligent if the hazard results in an injury to a visitor.
Slip and fall injuries can turn into premises liability lawsuits easily. Some of the hazards on a property that may lead to a premises liability lawsuit for personal injury include:
- Defective or dangerous structures, such as damaged floors, ceilings, or staircases.
- Absence of safety features, such as railings, handrails on stairs, and fire escapes.
- Failure to clear snow and ice from walking paths or high-traffic areas.
- Failure to properly mark wet or dangerous walking surfaces with warning signs.
- Clutter and other tripping hazards, such as loose rugs or area carpets.
This is not an exhaustive list, and property owners should always do their utmost to address safety concerns in a timely and efficient manner to protect the well-being of visitors and prevent potential lawsuits.
Slip and fall cases also arise in the workplace. In the construction industry, falls are the leading cause of workplace fatalities. Falls are also the leading cause of missed days from work across all industries. A fall at work may lead to a workers’ compensation claim, and sometimes lawsuits against a negligent coworker, employer, or third party.
If an employee falls and sustains an injury at work, he or she will typically be able to file for workers’ compensation. This will help ease the financial burden of immediate medical bills and lost wages from time spent out of work, but workers’ compensation is rarely able to completely cover the cost of a serious slip and fall injury. In some cases, injured workers must consult with attorneys to explore other avenues of compensation.
Employers have a legal duty to furnish their workforce with a hazard-free work environment. Employers must also take reasonable steps to address any safety issues present in the workplace. If someone notifies an employer about a potential safety hazard, but the employer fails to address it in a timely or reasonable manner, the hazard may lead to employee injuries, which can lead to personal injury lawsuits against the employer for negligence.
A personal injury lawsuit against an employer will function in many of the same ways as any other personal injury lawsuit. The only difference is a judge may reduce your total compensation by the amount you receive from a workers’ compensation claim. Following a workplace injury, your first step should be addressing your injury and seeking medical attention. Be sure to notify your employer about the injury as soon as possible. Your next step should be asking your employer for a workers’ compensation claim form.
Some employers may frown upon workers’ compensation claims because it may lead to higher premiums for workers’ compensation insurance policy. Remember, however, that it is illegal for your employer to take any negative or punitive actions against you for filing a workers’ compensation claim. This would be “retaliation,” a legal term that describes any negative actions an employer might take against an employee for taking an action protected by law.
Retaliation laws exist to ensure employees cannot be bullied into dropping a claim against their employer or be penalized for reporting unsafe working conditions to overseeing bodies such as the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA). Retaliation may include:
- A sudden drop in scheduled hours after filing a workers’ compensation claim.
- Transfer of the employee to a different department or shifting the employee’s job responsibilities.
- A demotion or pay cut following a workers’ compensation claim.
- Unnecessary or unreasonable delays in providing required forms.
- Unnecessary or unreasonable delays in processing a claim.
- Firing an employee for filing for workers’ compensation.
Common Slip and Fall Injuries
A slip and fall may sound innocuous at first, but the truth is that a slip and fall can cause serious injuries. Sometimes an injury may not visibly manifest for some time after a slip and fall. Regardless of whether you think your injury is small, seek medical advice. A trained physician may recognize a further or more complex injury.
Slip and fall injuries lead to millions of emergency room visits and roughly $34 billion in medical costs each year. They are especially dangerous for young children and senior citizens, in particular. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that every year, millions of older citizens must seek emergency medical care from a fall injury, and the rate of fatalities resulting from falls has climbed steadily over the past decade.
Slip and fall injuries can include:
- Broken bones. Roughly 5% of all falls lead to a bone fracture. This occurs most often in older adults whose bones are less resistant to damage than younger people. Wrist and arm fractures commonly result when people attempt to break a fall by throwing their arms out to catch themselves.
- Traumatic brain injuries. Falls can easily lead to head injuries, including concussions and skull fractures. Again, older adults are particularly vulnerable to head injuries. Medications such as painkillers and blood thinners can also play roles in the severity of traumatic brain injuries.
- Susceptibility to future falls. After enduring a fall injury, the individual may become more afraid of subsequent falls. After a fall, especially one that resulted in a bone fracture, the individual will likely be far less resilient to future falling injuries. The bone itself may be weaker than it once was, and those with brittle bones must be extra cautious in the future.
After a slip and fall, you may face multiple surgeries, physical rehabilitation, or a permanently disabling condition.
Know Your Options
Every case may have differing details, but the common factor in every slip and fall case is that the victim should not be left to handle injuries alone if another party is at fault. If you’ve suffered a slip and fall injury, after you address your immediate medical concerns, your next step should be contacting a qualified and experienced attorney to investigate your case.
A slip and fall may lead to a personal injury lawsuit against a negligent person or party, a battle for workers’ compensation for a workplace fall, or dealing with difficult insurance claim agents who are trained to avoid paying out full policies whenever possible. Regardless of whether your case involves a negligent property owner, an employer, or another entity, having reliable legal representation by your side will make securing fair compensation much easier.
The legal team at SteinLaw in Florida is committed to maximizing the recovery of every one of our clients. Your case may involve navigating a workers’ compensation claim, dealing with insurance companies, investigating an unsafe property, and various other elements. Reach out to SteinLaw to set up a free consultation if you believe another person or party is to blame for your slip and fall injury. We’ll review the details of your situation and let you know all the possible routes we can take to secure the maximum possible compensation for your injuries.