Corpus Christi Slip and Fall Law Firm
Almost everyone slips and falls at some point. Anyone can stumble or lose their balance, but sometimes, someone else’s negligence or a dangerous condition leads to their fall. According to the National Safety Council, slip and fall accidents are one of the most common causes of unintentional injury, accounting for around 8.9 million emergency department visits each year. Up to 50 percent of all accidental deaths in the home result from a slip and fall. Such accidents are also the primary cause of days lost from work.
Slip and fall accidents may be commonplace, but they can lead to serious injuries. The term “slip and fall” refers to an accident when a person slips, trips or falls on someone else’s property and is injured. This type of accident falls within personal injury law. Victims may be able to recover by bringing a personal injury claim against the person or entity responsible for causing their fall and, therefore, their injury.
Because such accidents usually happen on someone else’s property, including a store or other place of business, the cases are known as premises liability claims. Victims may receive compensation for their losses, such as medical bills, lost income, and non-economic damages such as pain and suffering. If you have been injured in a slip and/or fall accident, contact an experienced Corpus Christi personal injury attorney at The Patel Firm right away to discuss your legal options.
Where and Why Do People Slip and Fall?
Falls happen anywhere and everywhere. They occur in public places, privately owned property, and job sites. People fall in stores and restaurants. They fall on the stairs, trip on torn carpeting, or slip on wet floors. Outside hazards include broken sidewalks, unsafe stairs and railings, inadequate lighting, ice, or potholes. According to the National Safety Council, most falls in the home happen in the following areas:
- Uneven surfaces
- Crowded areas
Most falls that happen in public areas, businesses, or work settings happen in:
- Parking lots
- Slippery floors
- Tripping over or bumping into an object, such as a post or sign
- Tripping over torn or uneven floor coverings
- Falling off of work equipment, such as a ladder or forklift
Types of Injuries Sustained in Falls
Regardless of the circumstances, a fall can result in serious injuries. Some of the most commonly treated problems associated with falls include:
- Broken bones, especially hip and skull fractures
- Broken pelvic bones
- Back and spinal cord injuries
- Head and brain injuries
- Neck injuries
- Torn ligaments in the wrist, foot or leg
- Lacerations and scarring
- Internal bleeding
- Chronic pain
Who Is Liable in a Slip and Fall Case?
Premises liability law in Texas is complicated. Simply being involved in a slip and fall isn’t sufficient to uphold a claim. To prevail on a premises liability claim in Texas, the plaintiff (the injured person) must establish the “existence of a legal duty, breach of that legal duty, and damages caused by the breach of that legal duty.” The “existence of a legal duty” essentially means that the victim was an invitee; the defendant exercised control over the premises; a “dangerous condition” existed, and the defendant knew or should have known about the dangerous condition.
The duty the property owner owes someone on their property depends on why the person is on the property in the first place. In a case where the person is trespassing, the property owner only owes a duty not to injure the person intentionally.
Proving Fault in Slip and Fall Cases
In a slip and fall case, there is no clear cut rule determining whether another person or entity was responsible for your injuries. The facts determine whether the property owner took proper care to prevent or reduce the likelihood of such an accident and whether the victim was careless because he or she failed to see or avoid the dangerous condition.
To establish a premises liability case, you must prove that the owner of the premises was aware or should have been aware that there was a dangerous condition on the property. You must also prove that the property owner was negligent because they failed to correct the problem or provide sufficient warning of the problem. Finally, you must prove that the owner’s failure to use reasonable care was the proximate cause of the injuries. If the conditions are “naturally occurring and open and obvious,“ then the owner does not have a duty to protect or warn the invitee.
In most cases, a person injured in a slip and fall on someone else’s property must prove that a dangerous condition caused the accident. A dangerous condition means that when used in a reasonably foreseeable manner, it creates a substantial risk of injury. They must also prove that the owner or possessor of the property knew or should have known of the dangerous condition. The dangerous condition must present an unreasonable risk to someone on the property. People are supposed to be aware of and avoid obvious dangers. Therefore, the injured party should not have anticipated the dangerous condition.
To establish that a property owner or possessor knew of a dangerous condition, the plaintiff must show that:
- The owner or possessor of the property created the condition;
- The owner or possessor of the property knew the condition existed and acted negligently by failing to correct it; or
- The condition existed for a long enough time that the owner or possessor of the property should have discovered and corrected it before the slip and fall incident occurred.
A homeowner, an agent representing the owner, a management company, a business, or a government agency may own or possess the property. The property owner or possessor should have been able to foresee that his or her negligence would create the danger at issue. The circumstances vary slightly based on the type of property.
Landlords may be liable to tenants or third parties for slip and fall accidents on a rental property. The injured person must establish that the landlord had control over the dangerous condition, it would have been reasonable to repair the condition, failing to repair the condition would possibly lead to a serious injury and the landlord’s failure to make reasonable efforts to correct the problem caused the slip and fall injury.
In cases involving commercial property, there may be several people or entities legally responsible for slip and fall injuries. The property owner, lessee, or employee of a business may have caused a hazardous condition, known about it, or should have known about it, and do nothing to correct the problem.
There are different rules regarding slip and fall injuries that occur on property owned by a local, state, or federal government entity. Government property often has broad immunity provisions that may protect them from liability. These cases are also usually subject to strict notice requirements.
Proving a slip and fall case can be difficult. What caused the victim to fall? There are many precautions a property owner can and should take to prevent falls and injuries, including:
- Making sure all areas, including halls and stairways, are adequately lighted
- Keeping walkways free of electrical cords
- Keeping floors and walkways free of clutter.
- Cleaning any spills without delay
- Making sure that all carpets and area rugs are safe, by using skid-proof backing or taking rugs to the floor
- Putting up warning signs or blocking off any area that contains a hazard until the problem is solved
- Keeping stairways free of tripping hazards
- Providing sturdy handrails on stairways
- Marking the top and bottom steps of stairs with bright or reflective tape
- Filling potholes and cracks that create uneven surfaces or hazards on sidewalks and in parking lots
- Aiming irrigation heads away from walkways
The plaintiff has the burden of proving the elements of a slip and fall case. They type of evidence used depends on the kind of accident. For example, if the victim slipped on the snow, ice, or a foreign substance, a picture of the accident scene, taken as soon as possible after the accident, is valuable evidence. Some cases focus on whether there were adequate warning signs present at the time of the fall.
Other important evidence may include the owner’s maintenance and repair records. These may show if the condition has happened before and how, or if, the owner dealt with it. In other cases, such as a fall downstairs, evidence may focus on the design of the stairs. A construction expert may testify about flaws in the staircase. Common problems with the design of a staircase include:
- No handrails
- Only one handrail
- Handrails at the wrong height
- Risers (the height of each step) are the wrong height or are of varying heights
- The steps are not deep enough (that is, your foot doesn’t fit properly on the step)
- The edge of the run (the part your foot lands on) is worn
Compensation in a Slip and Fall Case
The victim of a slip and fall injury can potentially recover both economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages are tangible, easily quantified losses. Bills, receipts, and employment records are often submitted as proof of financial losses, including:
- Medical and rehabilitation expenses
- Future medical expenses if the injuries will require additional medical care in the future
- Lost earnings and benefits
- Cost of medical or adaptive devices
- Cost of household help to perform tasks you can no longer do
- Other out-of-pocket expenses incurred because of the injury
Non-economic damages are harder to assign a monetary value to. They include:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional anguish
- Loss of enjoyment of activities
- A spouse may be able to recover a type of non-economic damage called loss of consortium.
What to Do, and Not Do, to Protect Your Right to Compensation Following an Injury
If you have slipped, tripped, or fallen and been injured on someone else’s premises, at first you may be upset, in pain, or even a little embarrassed. Therefore, you may not take the actions which would help you in pursuing a claim. Of course, your ability to respond promptly depends on the nature of your injuries. But consider taking some of these steps:
- Seek medical attention. Remember that some injury symptoms do not appear until later, so always have a doctor check you for injuries.
- Report the fall to property management as soon as possible.
- Take pictures of the area, including the hazardous condition that resulted in your falling and the surrounding area. If you don’t have a cell phone with a camera, ask someone else to get some pictures.
- Take notes. Write down the exact time and place of your accident, as well as who you informed of the accident.
- If anyone saw your accident, get their name, address, and phone number.
- Save the clothes and shoes you were wearing and don’t clean them.
- Stay off social media. Do not discuss your injuries or a potential legal claim on social media. Statements you make on social media may later harm your claim.
- Do not sign paperwork or provide a statement for the owner or their insurance company representative. If anyone asks, refer them to your attorney.
The Slip and Fall Statute of Limitations in Texas
A statute of limitations is a law that puts a time limit on your right to have a lawsuit heard in the state’s civil court system. Texas law has a two-year deadline for the filing of any civil action seeking a legal remedy for personal injury, including slip and fall cases.
Take Action by Calling Our Slip and Fall Attorneys
A slip and fall accident can happen in seconds, but as a result of your fall, you may suffer catastrophic injuries. Your personal and financial losses may change your life forever. If you or a loved one have been injured after a slip and fall accident caused by someone’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation. For more information or a free consultation, contact an experienced slip and fall attorney at The Patel Firm PLLC. We can evaluate your case, advise you of your legal options, and guide you through the legal process. Call (361) 400-2036 or contact The Patel Firm online.
FAQ’s About an Injury After a Slip/Injury After a Fall
Q: Where could a premise liability claim occur?
A: There are all kinds of places where an injury from a slip or a fall could occur. Some common places are grocery stores, home improvement stores, department stores, convenience stores and gas stations, even someone’s home. Keep in mind, every situation is different. Contact a slip and fall injury lawyer in Corpus Christi for a free consultation to plan the next steps after a slip or fall in Texas.
Q: What conditions cause a slip or after a fall?
A: Any place that is poorly maintained could create dangerous conditions, which could cause an injury. Wet floors, slippery floors, uneven flooring, spilled liquids, and broken or defective steps or stairs are all examples of dangerous conditions that could result in an injury. If you were injured after falling at a business in Texas due to poor maintenance, contact a Corpus Christi slip and fall attorney at The Patel Firm PLLC.
Q: I slipped and fell at the store. I think I’m injured. What should I do?
A: There are few important things to do after you slip or you fall. First, seek medical treatment to document your injury and determine your plan for recovery. After you are able, let someone in charge know that you were hurt, and record their name and phone number. Then, contact a slip and fall lawyer in Corpus Christi at The Patel Firm PLLC to discuss your options.
Q: After I fell, I called the store to make a claim. They are giving me a hard time. What should I do?
A: Look, there is no other way to put it-big companies and their insurance carriers will try to take advantage of you, every time. The less they pay you, the more money they keep. Make sure they don’t take advantage of you. It makes sense to contact an injury attorney in Corpus Christi to discuss your options. Contact us as soon as possible- a free consultation with an accident attorney in Corpus Christi, Texas is only minutes away.