Falls are one of the leading causes of injuries in our nation. While some falls occur from our own clumsiness, other falls take place due to hazardous property conditions and others’ negligent conduct. If you have found yourself on the floor through no fault of your own, you may have been a victim of a slip and fall accident.
Being injured in any type of accident can be painful and overwhelming, but slip and fall accidents are often a time of confusion since most victims don’t know if someone else’s wrongdoing was the cause of their accident and what they should do after being injured on someone else’s property. Because it can make or break a legal case, it is important that victims of slip and fall accidents get answers to their questions and know the information is from a reliable source. This is why the injury attorneys of Shevlin Smith have put together the below information to help alleviate some of the confusion surrounding slip and fall accidents.
Common Causes of Slip and Fall Accidents
Slip and fall accidents can occur anywhere from apartment buildings to office buildings and commercial buildings. They can take place at grocery stores, big box stores, shopping malls, hotels, or even on public sidewalks and streets. Although these types of accidents can happen just about anywhere, there is one common reason they occur: negligence to maintain safe premises. Here are some examples of negligence that causes slip and fall accidents:
- Wet floors that haven’t been cleaned up or failing to post wet floor caution signs
- Improper waxing of floors
- Torn carpeting that hasn’t been repaired
- Poor lighting, especially in staircases
- Broken handrails or stairs that don’t have safety railings in place
- Loose floorboards or broken tile that hasn’t been fixed
- Broken or missing sidewalks and pavement that create uneven surfaces
- Weather conditions, such as rain, snow and ice that haven’t been cleaned up by entrances to buildings
When property owners are negligent in these ways and fail to maintain safe grounds for their customers and employees, people who are injured may be entitled to pursue compensation for the injuries and related losses they have suffered.
Types of Injuries Slip and Fall Victims Endure
If you have been injured due to unsafe grounds, don’t wait another minute wondering if you have a valid case. Talk with an attorney today to find out if you can get compensated for the injuries you suffered. Whether you suffered one of the injuries listed below or a different injury, you can benefit from talking with a lawyer to find out what your options are.
Here are some of the most common types of injuries slip and fall accident victims sustain:
- Broken bones. When people slip and fall, they typically land hard on the ground. When this occurs, people often suffer broken forearms, broken wrists and hands, broken upper arms, and broken legs and ankles. Any number of fractures can occur in a slip and fall accident.
- Back injuries. People who slip and fall can land on their backs and suffer damage to the vertebrae and spine. This can result in painful herniated discs or spinal cord injuries that can reduce a person’s function and mobility. In fact, a form of paralysis can even occur as a result of falling onto one’s back.
- Hip injuries. Many slip and fall accident victims suffer from hip fractures and hip dislocations as a result of falling sideways onto the hip. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 95% of hip fractures are caused by falling.
- Head trauma. People who are involved in slip and fall accidents unfortunately suffer head injuries, which can include concussions, contusions, and hematomas. In fact, falls are one of the major causes of traumatic brain injuries, which are typically life-changing disabling injuries that can cause cognitive impairments, behavioral changes, communication challenges, and much more.
Determining Who Is Responsible for a Slip and Fall Injury
When people suffer any type of injury in a slip and fall accident, they may have claims against the various responsible parties, including:
- Property owners
- Commercial businesses
- Renters of the property
- States or cities
Proving liability against any of these parties can sometimes be complicated since victims of slip and fall accidents must show that one of these three things is true:
- The property owner created the dangerous condition.
- The property owner or manager knew about the hazardous condition and failed to fix it in a timely manner.
- The property owner should have discovered the dangerous condition through normal property maintenance.
Because proving responsibility in a slip and fall accident claim is based on the legal theory of premises liability, victims need to understand premises liability laws. Premises liability laws state that property owners have a duty of care to people on their property; however, in Northern Virginia and DC, contributory negligence laws also play a part in slip and fall cases. This means that if the person who was injured was even one percent at fault for the slip and fall accident, he or she cannot make a financial recovery for his or her injuries.
What You Should Know After a Virginia Slip and Fall Injury
For help proving the property owner’s negligence was, indeed, the cause of your injuries, don’t wait any longer to talk with an attorney. A lawyer skilled in slip and fall accidents can help you prove your case and help you collect financial compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and much more.
Since there is a lot to learn about the law, we have put together some additional information to help slip and fall victims learn more about their legal rights.
- What steps should people take after being in a slip and fall accident? Make sure you speak with the manager or owner and ask to make an incident report prior to leaving the location of your fall. If you are able to, take out your cell phone and take photos of the hazardous condition that led to your fall. It is critical to your health that you seek medical care immediately. Having your injuries documented will also help your potential legal claim. Lastly, call an attorney experienced in handling personal injury and slip and fall injury claims.
- What is the length of time victims of slip and fall accidents have to file a lawsuit? In Virginia, the statute of limitations will allow you two years from the date the slip and fall accident occurred to bring a claim against the property owner. In DC, the law allows you to file a slip and fall lawsuit within three years of the date of accident; however, if a wrongful death resulted from a slip and fall accident, surviving family members will have two years to file such claims of this nature. Because statutes of limitations can expire, it’s always wise to speak with an attorney as soon as possible about your case.
- What type of financial recovery can a slip and fall accident victim expect to receive? As a slip and fall victim, you are entitled to both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages will compensate you for things such as your medical bills and lost wages; whereas, non-economic damages will compensate you for pain and suffering and the loss of enjoyment of life. The value of every slip and fall case will be determined based on the extent of the injuries.
- Do slip and fall accident victims really need to hire a lawyer? If you have been injured on someone else’s property through no fault of your own, it is in your best interest to have legal representation. Unfortunately, insurance companies don’t want to pay people what their claims are worth, and experienced injury attorneys know that and know how to negotiate with insurance adjusters to recover a full and fair financial recovery for their client.
Helping You Get Back on Your Feet After a Slip and Fall Accident
At Shevlin Smith, our Fairfax slip and fall attorneys have years of experience representing injured victims who have been in similar situations as you. We know how insurance companies view slip and fall cases, and we know the importance of negotiating claims to the fullest so our clients can receive fair financial recoveries for the physical, emotional and financial losses they suffered.
We are committed to getting our clients the justice and compensation they deserve for the trauma they endured. To find out how we can help you get the maximum compensation available in your case, call us for a free consultation at (703) 591-0067. We would be honored to speak with you and answer any additional questions you may have about premises liability law and slip and fall lawsuits in Virginia and DC.