Slip And Fall Injuries & Lawsuits
What is a Slip and Fall Accident?
Each year, slip and fall accidents result in over 8 million emergency room visits. According to the CDC, over 800,000 patients become hospitalized each year due to a fall injury, most often as a result of a head injury or hip fracture.
In addition to physical pain and suffering, a slip-and-fall injury has financial consequences as well. The medical expenses can be substantial, and they can become especially hard to pay, if you are too injured to work.
In the State of New Jersey, property owners have a legal obligation to maintain their property in a reasonably safe condition. This means that you should not encounter any unreasonable hazards on their property, and if hazards do exist, the property owners must provide adequate warning.
For example, in the winter, property owners have a duty to remove any ice and snow from their walkways so that visitors or passersby do not slip and fall.
Unfortunately, some property owners fail to fix such hazardous conditions or warn visitors of potential dangers. As a result, people can slip and fall on their premises and suffer serious injury.
There are many factors that can create hazardous conditions on one’s property, including:
- Uneven pavement
- Broken steps or entryways
- Slippery or wet floors
- Poorly lit parking lots
- Unmarked stairs or ramps
- Cracked sidewalks or floors
- Loose or exposed cables
- Potholes or unmarked dips and bumps in parking lots
- Icy walkways or parking lots
- Snow on walkways and parking lots
- Wet leaves
- Cluttered floors in stores or supermarkets
- Bunched carpet or uneven carpet
- Staircase railings that give way
- Spills of merchandise, oil, water, etc in a store or parking lot
Many of these safety hazards are not very obvious, which leads to slip and fall accidents and injuries. If a hazard does exist on one’s property, it is the responsibility of the person who owns or manages the property to remove the danger or provide adequate warning of the dangerous conditions to any visitors or guests.
When property owners fail to make repairs, clear snow or ice, clean up spills, and remove hazards, they are being negligent to the safety of others. As such, this negligence can make a property owner liable for any accidents or injuries sustained as a result.
Common Slip and Fall Injuries
While every slip and fall accident is unique, there are common injuries that victims of these accidents suffer from, including:
- Fractures such as a broken wrist, arm, or leg. Hip fractures are especially common – and unfortunately they can also be very devastating – among the elderly. According to the CDC, over 95 percent of hip fractures are caused by falls, and of those who suffer hip fractures, one out of five patients die within one year of the injury. As such, these types of injuries can be catastrophic.
- Brachial Plexus Injury is another name for a shoulder injury often sustained as a result of a fall. Many times, when someone is falling, he to catch himself and lands on a shoulder. A dislocation of one’s shoulder can be extremely painful and severely limit one’s movement of their shoulder and arm. The brachial plexus connects your shoulder, arm, and hand to your spinal cord. A violent fall can cause serious damage to the nerves in the brachial plexus.
- Head injuries can range from mild concussion to catastrophic injury. According to the CDC, falls are the most common cause of long-lasting traumatic brain injuries (TBI). These severe head injuries can result in cognitive impairment, fatigue, memory lapses, mood changes, and other serious health issues. In the most serious cases, a catastrophic head injury can lead to degenerative brain disease and premature death.
- Back and spinal injuries can easily occur when one lands “wrong” in a slip and fall accident. These injuries can include herniated discs, slipped discs, and even vertebrae damage. Back injuries are often some of the most difficult to treat and can be extremely painful for the victim. In more severe falls, the victim may suffer injury to his spinal cord, which can result in paralysis.
While these injuries can happen to any victim of a slip and fall accident, elderly victims are at an even higher risk of being severely injured because of a fall. In fact, falls are the leading causes of all injuries among adults 65 and older, with one out of three adults in this age range suffering a fall each year.
Where Do These Accidents Occur?
Slip and fall accidents can occur anywhere, but there are a few common places where injuries occur:
- Grocery Stores
- Retail Stores
- Convenience Stores
- Gas Stations
- Entertainment venues such as resorts or theaters
- Private residences
- Apartment complexes
- Parking lots
As you can see, these types of accidents can happen both indoors and outdoors, and they can arise from many different situations such as inclement weather, spills, and structural hazards.
What to Do if You Are Injured in a Slip and Fall Accident
The most important thing you should do if you have suffered a slip and fall injury is see a doctor, so that you can start your recovery and having a medical history of your injuries as soon as possible.
If your injury was caused by a hazardous condition, it is also very important to document the situation. You should take pictures of the area as it was when you were injured, for example if there is ice or snow or another danger present. You should then report the incident to the property owner and keep track of all relevant information. If there were any witnesses present, you should also collect their names and contact information.
At the same time, we strongly recommend hiring an attorney to protect your legal rights and help you navigate the situation.
In New Jersey, victims have a limited time to file a slip and fall claim. These deadline is known as the statute of limitations and requires personal injury lawsuits to be filed within two years from the date of the accident. If the injured person was under age 18 at the time of the accident, he or she has until age 20 to file the claim. There are a few situations that may have further limits on the amount of time that one has to file a slip and fall claim, such as falling on government property.
As these cases can often be complex, it is wise to have an attorney review your claim as soon as possible.
Establishing a Case for Injury
For a slip and fall injury to be considered a valid case, there are a two main things that need to be proven:
- The existence of a dangerous condition on the property – This means that a hazard such as snow, uneven pavement, poor lighting, spills, cluttered floors, and so on were present on the owner’s property.
- The negligence of the property owner to fix or address the hazardous condition – Negligence in these cases means that the property owner was aware of or should have been aware of the existence of the dangerous condition, had reasonable time either fix or warn visitors about the hazard, and neglected or failed to do so, leading to an accident or injury.
In these cases, the burden is on the victim of the injury, or their surviving family members, to prove that the property owner or manager should be held liable for the injury that was suffered as a result of his or her negligence.
Business owners in the State of New Jersey have an even higher level of responsibility to ensure safety on their properties, as they solicit visitors. There is even a special “natural accumulation” rule for business owners that legally requires them to remove snow and ice on their property in a timely manner.
Although it may seem straightforward, there are many nuances to proving a premises liability case, which is why it is important to consult a lawyer about whether or not you have a claim.
Compensation for a Slip and Fall Accident
Since every case is different, the type and extent of the compensation you may be eligible to receive will vary. Factors such as the severity of your injuries and the nature of the accident will affect the level of compensation you may receive.
If you or a loved one were injured in a slip and fall accident, you may be eligible to receiving compensation for the following:
- Money to cover medical bills and expenses
- Damages from pain and suffering
- Rehabilitation and physical therapy costs
- Lost wages
- Loss of future income if your injuries prevent you from working
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Psychological pain
The total cost of damages can add up quickly, and the more serious or permanent an injury is, the more compensation you may be entitled to receive. In fact, the National Floor Safety Institute reports the grocery industry spends $450 million each year to defend slip and fall incidents and liability claims.
The two primary avenues to receive compensation for your injuries are through a settlement or trial. In an effort to avoid a jury determining settlement amounts, the defendant and/or their insurance company may offer to settle for a specified amount they believe is likely less than you would receive in court. This also saves the time, resources, and emotional effort required in taking the case to court.
Should You Hire a Slip and Fall Attorney?
Slip and fall accidents can be complicated and result in devastating injuries, and the process of resolving a slip and fall injury case could take several months or even years. You cannot afford to navigate the legal system without strong representation, and if you must decide between a settlement and taking the case to court, we will guide you each step of the way and provide our expertise in assessing your options.
Medical records and evidence can play key roles in winning a slip and fall case, which is why it is important to have an attorney by your side to make sure you gather all of the right documents and evidence.
At Dansky | Katz | Ringold, our team of personal injury attorneys will work directly with your medical providers to make sure you receive the proper care, ensure your bills are paid, and obtain any necessary medical records and reports to prove your case.
Our primary goal is to help you recover from your injuries. When you retain one of our experienced lawyers, we help take the stress away from you. Our team will focus on protecting your rights, establishing your claim, and maximizing your compensation, while you focus on your recovery.
Your attorney will also handle all communication with insurance companies and lawyers of the property owner or other parties involved.
How to Schedule a Free Consultation
At Dansky | Katz | Ringold, our attorneys help those injured in slip-and-fall accidents obtain restitution for all of the damages they have suffered. If your injury was caused by the negligence of a property owner, we will seek financial compensation for pain and suffering, medical and rehabilitation expenses, and lost wages or income.