When a person experiences a slip and fall, trip, or fall on another person’s property that results in injury, the term “slip and fall” is used to describe the type of personal injury claim that the victim has the right to pursue. Part of a broader category of law known as premises liability, slip and fall litigation seeks to hold a property owner liable for a victim’s damages.
When to Take Legal Action
Slip and fall accidents are very common and can cause a wide range of injuries. Not every slip and fall causes a simple bump or bruise that will go away in a few days. Some slip and fall accidents cause serious physical trauma such as broken bones or even head injuries. A person may lose his or her footing and slip or fall in virtually any environment, from a shopping mall to a restaurant to an amusement park. In these cases, the owner or manager of the property may be held accountable – if their negligence caused the incident to occur. Poor maintenance of a stairway or a failure to put a warning sign on a wet floor may be examples of negligence that would result in the property owner or manager being held legally responsible. A New York injury lawyer at Napoli Shkolnik, PLLC can explain your rights and options to you during a confidential consultation.
Our team is skilled in representing the interests of injured victims and their families. We are familiar with the hazardous conditions that may cause slip and fall accidents to occur. Some examples may include:
- Wet floors;
- The presence of ice or snow on a walkway;
- Loose carpeting or tile;
- Poor lighting;
- A missing or defective stair;
- A broken or missing railing;
- An uneven walking surface; or
- Unexpected obstacles in walkways.
Liability for these injuries often rests with the occupant of the space. This does not mean that only the owner of a building automatically has liability. Tenants can also be liable for injuries sustained in their rental spaces. People who are responsible for property maintenance and repair also have a duty to those who use the building for personal or business purposes.
Property occupants, owners or managers need to take reasonable precautions to ensure that anyone using their space is not injured. Liability is often determined because of someone’s failure to inspect the premises, maintain the premises, correct an existing danger, warn property users of an unsafe situation or have a proper maintenance system in place. Because many slip and fall cases include testimony from expert witnesses and evidence of a scientific nature, the importance of an experienced personal injury attorney cannot be overestimated. An attorney experienced in handling these particular cases will be able to provide expert witnesses and evidence that can help you build a compelling case.
Injuries Caused by Slip & Fall Accidents
A slip and fall accident has the potential to cause serious injuries. Some of the types of injuries that may be experienced include: broken or fractured bones, sprained ankles and wrists, head trauma, spinal cord injuries, tailbone injuries and neck or back injuries. These may be particularly severe if the victim is elderly. These injuries may lead to chronic pain, missed work days and the need for costly medical care. If the injury is severe enough, the victim may require emergency medical treatment or hospitalization or may even need the help of in-home nurses or therapists to recover.
The goal of a personal injury lawsuit for a slip and fall accident is to help the victim rebuild his or her life to as similar a condition as it was before the injury occurred. As such, plaintiffs in slip and fall cases may be entitled to compensation for lost wages, loss of enjoyment of life, pain and suffering, future income, past and future medical expenses and rehabilitation.
Property Hazards and Causes of Slip and Fall Accidents
Most slip and fall accidents occur because of a hazard or unsafe condition on a property. Examples of property hazards that may lead to the occurrence of a slip and fall accident include:
- Torn or worn carpet;
- Spills/slippery surfaces;
- Snow or ice;
- Cracked/broken sidewalk, flooring;
- Broken stairs;
- Broken handrails;
- Objects/debris; or
- Falling objects.
Under premises liability law, a property owner has a duty to correct or repair unsafe conditions in a reasonable amount of time.
Determining Liability in a Slip and Fall Claim
When a slip and fall accident happens on one’s own property, pursuing a negligence-based civil action is typically not possible. However, when a slip and fall accident occurs on someone else’s property, the victim may assert that the property owner should be held liable for damages incurred.
In order to hold a property owner liable for damages in a slip and fall claim, a victim must prove that the accident would not have occurred but for the property owner’s actions. Furthermore, the victim must prove that:
- The property owner caused the unsafe condition;
- The property owner failed to repair the unsafe condition, but knew of it; or
- The property owner should have known of the unsafe condition, and therefore should have corrected it.
Of course, the victim must also prove that they have sustained damages, or injuries. According to the National Floor Safety Institute, fractures are the most serious consequences of falls, and affect five percent of fall victims.
How a New York Slip and Fall Attorney Can Help to Prove Liability
Unless you can prove the liability of the property owner, you will not be able to recover any damages for your slip and fall injury. An attorney will advocate on your behalf, building a case that establishes why the property owner acted negligently, as well as the extent of damages you have suffered.
At Napoli Shkolnik PLLC, our attorneys have well over a century of collective legal experience. We have considerable experience in the field of personal injury law in particular. Serving the injured, disabled and elderly in New York and across the U.S., we stand ready to see how we can help you. Contact our offices today to schedule a free and confidential case review.