Slip and fall injuries are a common occurrence in the United States and send many people to the hospital year after year. According to information from the National Floor Safety Institute, a nonprofit organization dedicated to “aid in the prevention of slips, trips-and-falls through education, research, and standards development,” slip and falls lead to a total of one million hospital visits each year, showing just how often these events happen.
When an individual falls, the results can be quite serious, causing severe injury or even death. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that one in every five falls results in a serious injury, and that falls are the most common cause of a traumatic brain injury. In particular, individuals who are aged 65 or older are particularly vulnerable to being injured in a fall. The CDC notes that over one in every four people who are 65 or older falls per year, and that after falling once, a person’s chances of falling again double.
Slip and falls can cause a wide range of injuries, from head trauma to broken bones to torn ligaments. These types of accidents can occur anywhere, from shopping at the store to walking down the street. Whatever the situation may be, an individual who suffers from a slip and fall accident may be able to file a lawsuit. If you or a loved one suffers an injury from a slip and fall, consulting with an experienced slip and fall lawyer can have a key impact in helping you get the results you deserve.
When a slip and fall occurs, the injured party will likely have a number of questions about their legal rights. They will want to know who they can sue, and what is the likelihood of succeeding in a lawsuit based on their unique set of facts. An experienced slip and fall attorney can help an individual understand their legal rights, answer their specific questions, and navigate each step of their case.
How Difficult is Winning a Slip and Fall Lawsuit?
When someone is injured as the result of a slip and fall accident, they may consider filing a lawsuit. But one of the key questions they might have before bringing forward a lawsuit is: how likely is my case to succeed? There is no one answer to that question because each case has different facts and different circumstances, and some cases are simply stronger than others.
However, in general, slip and fall lawsuits have a reputation as being particularly difficult to win. When it comes to slip and fall lawsuits, the injured party needs to prove three key things in order to succeed.
- First, they need to prove that the party that they are suing owed them a duty of care.
- Second, they need to prove that the other party breached that duty of care.
- Third, they need to prove that the breach of that duty of care is what caused their injury and/or loss.
What evidence will I need for a slip and fall case?
As previously noted, every case is different, which underscores the importance of having the strongest evidence possible. Here are some steps you should take after being injured in a fall:
- Seek immediate medical attention.
- Collect as much evidence as you can. This includes saving every medical bill that relates to the treatment of your injury: bills for doctor’s visits, prescriptions, physical therapy—anything that relates to the injury caused by the slip and fall accident.
- Document everything you can about the injuries and the accident itself. If possible, following an accident, the injured party should take photographs of the injuries caused by the slip and fall accident. Additionally, they should take pictures and/or video of the accident location as close in time to the accident as possible. This can really help to strengthen a case. Perhaps someone had a responsibility to clear snow from a walkway and neglected to do so. Or maybe someone fell in a supermarket because there was a spill on the ground that was left there. Many times, evidence of what caused the accident can be removed, making it even more crucial to have photos or video of the condition that caused the fall.
- Find other sources of evidence. Getting a statement from a bystander or store employee who saw the accident occur can be very helpful to the case.
Ultimately, collecting as much evidence as possible goes a long way—it can help when it comes to proving that someone had a duty of care, the duty was breached, and the breach ultimately led to their injuries or loss.
What Happens When a Slip and Fall Occurs on a Rental Property?
One of the more common questions that those hurt in slip and fall accidents may have is what their legal rights are when a slip and fall occurs on a rental property.
Some factors to consider when a slip and fall accident occurs in a rental property include:
- Why was the injured party on the property? Obviously, for those who live in a rental property, they have a right to be on the property as a tenant. However, if someone is injured on a rental property and they did not have a right to be there, such as a trespasser, then their potential legal recourse looks a lot different.
- Where did the accident occur? With rental properties, the landlord or building owner has the responsibility to take care of common areas. This could be a shared laundry room or an outdoor walkway or a building lobby—those areas where all the tenants of the building have access. However, what if an accident occurs in the kitchen of a rental unit? The private residences of tenants are treated differently than common areas, so where a slip and fall accident takes place is a critical aspect of a case, as the landlord might not be legally liable for a slip and fall accident that takes place in an area that they are not obligated to routinely maintain.
- If a slip and fall accident occurred in a common area, was the landlord or party responsible for the upkeep of the rental property notified of the hazard that caused the accident?
- If a slip and fall accident occurred in a rental unit, was the landlord notified of a dangerous condition that ultimately resulted in the slip in fall? Landlords typically are not responsible for conditions that are created in rental units. However, this can potentially change if the landlord is notified of a condition in the unit. For example, legal liability could change if a renter told the landlord that there was an issue with the dishwasher that kept resulting in a wet floor and the landlord neglected to fix the issue in a timely manner.
In general, when it comes to rental properties, landlords are legally responsible to keep the property both habitable as well as free from potentially dangerous conditions. The landlord needs to both inspect and keep common areas safe for individuals. If someone is injured in a slip and fall accident on a rental property, who they are able to sue and their chances of succeeding will depend on the unique factors of their specific case.
Ultimately, when a slip and fall accident occurs, the injured party should work with an experienced Delaware slip and fall attorney who can leverage their knowledge and experience to help the injured party get the results that they deserve. A slip and fall attorney can explain your legal rights, and guide you through each step of your case. An injured individual may be able to recover for the injuries they suffered, future medical expenses, loss of enjoyment, as well as actual and/or future lost earnings, among other things. By working with a slip and fall lawyer, the injured party can understand how to strengthen their case and know who they can hold responsible for their injuries.
If you or one of your loved ones has been impacted by a slip and fall accident, the experienced slip and fall lawyers at Morris James can help you navigate your legal needs. Contact one of our team members at your local Morris James office or by using our online contact form today.