Seeking Compensation for Slip and Fall Victims in South Bay
As the COVID-19 pandemic ends and the world begins to open up again, there are increasing opportunities to visit stores, restaurants, and public places. Though this is a good thing overall, it’s important to be aware of the hazards of going out in public. In most cases, running errands and participating in leisure activities are not particularly dangerous. This is because businesses have a legal and ethical responsibility to keep their premises safe for those who walk through their doors. If they fail to do so, accidents can easily occur. Perhaps the most common type of accident in a public area is a slip and fall accident, which happens when a business fails to keep its walking areas free of spills and obstructions. Though we all hope that these incidents don’t happen, it’s essential to know what to do if one does. Especially with businesses reopening to the public, you can’t be too careful when protecting yourself against slip and fall accidents.
What Is a Slip and Fall Accident?
Slip and fall accidents are relatively straightforward, but they can look several different ways depending on the situation. This injury category applies whenever a person trips or slips and hurts themselves on someone else’s property. Property owners and managers have a legal responsibility to keep their areas clear and ready for customers. If they fail to do this and someone gets hurt, they are liable for the damages and injuries they have caused.
Who Is Liable in a Slip and Fall Accident?
Not all injuries that occur in public places or businesses are eligible to receive compensation. For a slip and fall accident to have happened, a victim must prove that they were not to blame for the incident. This means that they cannot have been acting recklessly or illegally at the time of the injury, and they have to prove that either:
- The owner or property manager created the conditions that caused the accident.
- The owner or property manager knew about the condition and failed to fix it or post appropriate signage warning customers of the hazard.
- The hazard had existed for so long that the owner or property manager should have reasonably known about it and taken steps to fix it.
Any of these situations indicate that the property owner or manager has failed to create a reasonably safe environment for their guests. In doing so, they make themselves liable for the damages because they have neglected their responsibility as a property owner.
When the Victim Is Liable
In some cases, the victim of the accident is liable for their own injuries. These situations may include when the:
- Victim was acting recklessly or failing to follow basic rules of conduct.
- Victim failed to heed clearly and properly posted warning signs.
- Victim created the situation that hurts them.
- Property owner or manager could not have foreseen the incident.
In these situations, it is unlikely that the victim will receive compensation for their injuries, and in some cases, might be responsible to the facility for damages that they caused.
Proving Liability in a Slip and Fall Case
If you have been injured in a slip and fall situation, you must collect proper information about what happened. Proving fault can be difficult, and the law requires a significant amount of proof to gain compensation. You must be able to prove that the hazard was either created by management, ignored by management, or existed for a long enough time where basic maintenance should have addressed it. To find proof of these things, do the following:
- Take pictures of the area where you fell, including signs, floor conditions, and the hazard that caused you to slip or fall.
- Take pictures of your injury.
- Collect statements and contact information from anyone who saw what happened. These testimonials are compelling if they come from several sources and the individuals you interview did not know you before the incident.
- Get the contact information for employees and managers. Your attorney may be able to interview them and assess whether there is a pattern of negligence among the staff.
- Keep any receipts of medical care and get copies of medical records.
Proving fault in a slip and fall case is not always as straightforward as you might hope, so it is best to collect as much evidence as possible. The more proof you have, the more airtight your case will be in court.
Compensation for a Slip and Fall Case
Many people want to know how much they can expect to receive in a slip and fall case. It is difficult to estimate the settlement of a claim without knowing the details, as many factors affect the payout. The average payout for settlements in slip and fall cases is anywhere between $15,000 and $45,000. This is a wide range but reflects the fact that these cases cover a broad range of incidents. If you have serious injuries or your case is particularly strong and straightforward, you will likely receive more compensation. If you have minor injuries or doubts about the chain of events, you’ll likely receive less.
Litigation vs. Negotiation
Slip and fall cases can be resolved in different ways. In some cases, a victim’s argument is strong, and their attorney can negotiate a settlement out of court. In other cases, however, litigation is required. A full court process can be lengthy and often indicates that neither side sees the validity in the other’s argument. This is why it is essential to have a competent attorney representing your case. Without a proper representative, your case could drag on, and your settlement could be lower, even if the situation seems straightforward to you.
What a Settlement Covers
There are several factors that go into a slip and fall settlement sum. If you have been injured, it is a good idea to know what is generally covered by these cases so you know the amount of compensation you can seek. Your attorney will be able to assist you with this. In general, slip and fall settlements cover:
- Medical expenses that result from the accident.
- Wages you lost while taking time off from work to recover.
- Pain and suffering.
- Expected future damages or lost opportunities resulting from your injuries.
The more severe your injuries are, the more of these factors will be considered. If you came out of the incident with only a scrape or bruise, you would not be able to claim as many of these conditions as if you broke a limb or permanently altered your body in some way.
One of the largest ways victims give up their rights in slip and fall cases is by being distracted in public areas. Talking on the phone, texting, drinking alcohol, or going in restricted areas can all weaken a victim’s case in court and often leads to a lower settlement or no settlement at all. Try to save texting and phone time for when you are in a safe place such as a parked car, home, or you are sitting down. If you go out for a drink or meal, make sure you pay extra attention to where you are walking and avoid becoming intoxicated. These rules may feel restrictive, but they will likely keep you safe and strengthen your case if an accident happens.
Other Ways to Stay Safe
Aside from staying alert, there are other ways to keep yourself safe when in public areas. Though you cannot prevent accidents from happening 100% of the time, you can make sure that you are doing everything in your power to protect yourself physically and legally. Some basic tips include:
- Avoid wearing shoes with poor traction, shoes that do not fit properly, or shoes that present a hazard on their own. This kind of footwear makes a slip or fall more likely. Take an elevator if you need to, and ask facilities for reasonable accommodations if you need them. These requests are often simple to accommodate and can significantly improve your safety.
- Watch the weather. Wear proper footwear and clothing for the forecast, and bring along mobility aids or supportive friends or family if you are concerned about your ability to navigate public spaces safely.
Though none of these tips is guaranteed to keep you safe, they can help to ensure that you are not liable if a slip and fall accident should occur.
Contact McLachlan Law
If you have been the victim of a slip and fall accident, you need an experienced attorney to ensure that you get the compensation you deserve. Fighting a slip and fall case alone often results in low payouts and subpar compensation, which can leave you responsible for your own medical bills and lost income. By hiring an experienced attorney, you ensure that your case receives the best possible outcome and that you are sufficiently cared for after your accident. At McLachlan Law APC, we have been representing victims in slip and fall accidents for decades. We can ensure that you receive proper compensation and help you move on from your accident quickly and completely. Contact our office to learn more.