A slip and fall accident occurs when someone slips on a floor surface because of a foreign substance, such as a liquid. This surface may be a staircase. If someone falls due to a defective surface, then his or her fall is considered a trip and fall accident. Both types of accidents are considered premises liability accidents because they occurred on a premises (property) at either a business or on private property.
Examples of falls include:
- Parking lot falls
- Stair falls
- Falls in a store or business
- Sidewalk falls
- Bathtub or shower falls
A common cause of stair falls is uneven stair heights (rises). If one stair is taller or shorter than the next, and this is prohibited by a municipal building code, and one falls for this reason, then the property owner or landlord may be held responsible for the fall. Also, chipped stairs and sidewalks and sidewalks or floors and sidewalks with holes, cracks or gaps often cause people to fall.
Determining who is responsible for the slip and fall or trip and fall
It is a lawyer’s job to determine liability for an accident. Was a store owner’s negligence the cause of the accident or was it the person who fell? If someone is sending a text message on a cellphone while on stairs or is wearing a long dress that he or she fell over, then the client may be liable for the injuries caused by the fall. However, if the store owner had notice of the dangerous condition or created the dangerous condition and did not fix it in a timely manner, then the store owner may be responsible for the fall.
Lawyers collect evidence to prove their case. The lawyer must prove to the court that the fall was caused by the property owner or the store owner and that the fall caused a damaging injury to his or her client. The attorney will need to obtain medical records and review them in order to offer conclusive proof to the court as well.
What to do if you have been in a slip and fall or trip and fall accident
- Seek medical attention
- Get the names, addresses and phone numbers of people who witnessed the fall
- Get the names and contact information of the store manager and property manager
- Save the evidence: Keep the shoes you were wearing when you fell. If you fell over an object, such as fruit or cloth, then keep that item. You can even freeze produce. This will help add tangible evidence to your case.
- Take photographs (even with a cell phone or smartphone) of the area where you fell, paying especial attention to any potential defects on the floor or stairs
- Do NOT offer any statement, written or spoken, to an insurance company. The insurance company works to minimize any potential payout. They are not working for you.
How a lawyer can help after a fall
If you have been injured after a fall, then there are surely many things on your mind. You may have high medical costs, pain and suffering, and you may have missed work. A lawyer can work to determine how this accident occurred and determine if you have a claim to receive money for damages. If you have a case, then the lawyer can negotiate with insurance companies. Clients who negotiate alone may be offered a low-ball settlement just to finish the case. Jayson Lutzky is a lawyer with over 34 years of experience practicing law in New York State. He understands how the insurance companies work and can negotiate with them on your behalf or go to trial if that is what is necessary to recover an appropriate amount for you after your accident. Mr. Lutzky offers free in-person consultations. Call 718-329-9500 to schedule a consultation. Home and hospital visits are available in the event of a serious injury.