When you slip and fall on someone’s property, your ego may urge you to get up and walk away before someone sees you. If you’re hurt, however, you can’t afford to let embarrassment control your actions. A fall on hard pavement or even a soft surface can cause injuries ranging from simple sprains to head trauma. If you delay treatment, your condition could worsen, and the parties responsible for causing your fall may avoid liability.
Before you leave the scene of the injury, make certain to document the incident and inform the property owner. Try to obtain an accident report if you’ve fallen in a place that creates them for slip and fall incidents. Use your phone to photograph the area where you fell and ask witnesses for their contact information. If you’re injured, seek medical treatment right away. Once your immediate injuries have been treated, consider what actions you need to take to protect your legal rights.
At the Hughey Law Firm, our attorneys understand slip and fall cases and the serious injuries they cause. If you fell on someone’s property and are dealing with an injury, contact an associate now to discuss your legal options.
Our Results in Slip and Fall Cases
Our law firm has represented numerous clients against private and commercial property owners, insurance companies, and their legal representatives. With each new case, we rely on the experience we’ve gained from resolving hundreds of similar slip and fall accidents to fight passionately for our clients. We work through complicated liability issues and negotiation challenges by always keeping our client’s best interests in mind.
Often, obtaining the best results for our clients means avoiding the courtroom and negotiating a fair and honest settlement with responsible parties. When a defendant refuses to strike a fair offer, we are also skilled trial attorneys equipped to present a case before judge and jury. We also understand that each case is different. It’s not possible to guarantee a specific outcome for any case, but we believe our track record of successful premises liability settlements and verdicts speaks for itself:
- Client fell when a restaurant left a rolled-up mat on the floor: $450,000.
- Client injured due to a defective condition on the defendant’s property: $500,000.
- Client slipped and broke an ankle: $425,000.
- Client injured due to a fall at church: $415,000.
- Client fell due to a hazardous sidewalk condition: $375,000.
- Client fell due to slippery stairs and inadequate lighting: $350,000.
What Are Slip and Fall Injuries?
Slip and falls injuries vary due to the force of the fall, the surface impacted, and the body part involved. Age is also a factor. Older adults with bone density issues are susceptible to severe hip and leg fractures. A small child’s frail body may sustain serious injuries under circumstances that might not harm a young adult. Slip and falls cause a variety of injuries, such as:
- Muscle sprains and strains;
- Hip and leg fractures;
- Bruised or fractured tailbone;
- Concussions, closed head injuries, and brain trauma;
- Wrist and hand fractures;
- Shoulder and knee dislocations; and
- Knee and ankle ligament injuries.
Who Can Be at fault?
The first dilemma with slip and fall hazards is that they’re everywhere. Even though a modern building appears safe, hidden hazards and unexpected conditions could cause you to fall. Common hazards include but are not limited to:
- Spills in common areas and walkways;
- Inadequate lighting;
- Snow and ice both outside and tracked inside;
- Worn and damaged carpet or flooring;
- Uneven and broken sidewalks and stairs; and
- Broken manual and automatic entry doors.
The second dilemma is that, in most cases, nobody wants to take responsibility. That’s what makes our task both so important and so complicated. We identify the proper defendant(s) by investigating the facts of the case. Often, property ownership, duties, and actionable negligence can be difficult to ascertain. We determine each party’s failure to meet their responsibilities, and while a slip on an individual owner’s property may prove a simple case, a slip and fall on a commercial property such as a mall, office building, or public gathering place can quickly grow complex. As a few examples:
- Property owners: The private or commercial property owner is often the primary liability focus. Owners have legal duties to maintain their property in a safe condition. This is critical when businesses on the premises encourage you to visit their locations.
- Maintenance contractors: Some commercial owners hire management companies to maintain their properties. Often, written agreements require the maintenance contractor to assume liability and defend the owner if an injury occurs on the premises.
- Lessees: If a business leases a part of the premises, the lease often describes the areas where the business is responsible for maintenance, liability issues, and insurance.
- Parking garage operator: Often, commercial buildings will lease the garage to a separate entity that may assume liability for their operations.
What Damages Might a Client Recover From a Slip and Fall Injury Case?
Settlements for slip and fall injuries include two basic damage categories: economic damages, and general damages. Economic or special damages are the easiest to calculate. They’re based on billed services, medical products, and other documentable out-of-pocket expenses:
- Lost wages;
- Lost earning capacity due to physical or mental disablement;
- Medical bills;
- Physical therapy;
- Replacement services; and
- Other treatment expenses.
General damages are more difficult to assess. They’re often subjective, as they’re based on emotions, feelings, changes in physical features, and lifestyle adjustments. There are no standard techniques for measuring general damages such as pain and suffering. They’re also difficult to verify, a frequent issue during trials and settlement negotiations. We consider injuries, employment, marital and parental status, non-work activities, and several other factors in determining these damage categories included in the general damage portion of a settlement:
- Pain and suffering;
- Emotional distress;
- Loss of spousal relationship;
- Scarring; and
- Permanent disabilities.
How Do Liable Parties Try to Get out of Paying Their Fair Share?
Property owners, managers, maintenance companies, insurers, and other potential defendants usually work to avoid responsibility for slip and fall injuries. Claim payments increase an owner’s insurance rates. Adverse verdicts cause bad publicity, and some argue may lead to copycat schemes. To keep their loss ratios reasonable, insurance companies may deny a slip and fall claim to risk paying later if the injured party files suit. Responsible parties enlist a number of strategies to avoid paying damages:
- A property owner may simply deny that the incident happened on their property.
- The owner may report a version of the accident that supports a no-liability position.
- An insurance company may deny liability with the idea of reconsidering their decision if and when the slip and fall victim files a suit.
Defense attorneys generally present the insurance company’s or owner’s position when defending a slip and fall case in court. Some common defenses include:
- A condition was an open and obvious hazard.
- The plaintiff assumed the risk of stepping into or across the hazard.
- There was no premises defect or negligence.
- The plaintiff was comparatively negligence to the extent that it should bar recovery.
How Much Does a Lawyer Charge to Take My Case?
Consultations with our associates are always free. and, our law firm handles slip and fall cases on a contingency basis. This means our clients pay no legal fees to the firm unless we settle their case or obtain a favorable judgment. We deduct fees as a portion of the settlement or judgment.
Protect Your Rights After Your Slip and Fall
If you’re injured in a slip and fall accident in Columbia, South Carolina, don’t just walk away – property owners and managers have a duty to maintain a safe environment for patrons, and what may seem at first minor injuries can quickly devolve into serious complications. Contact the Hughey Law Firm at (843) 881-8644 or write to us online for a free consultation. We’ll review your case, and help you determine what steps to take to protect your legal rights.