Dallas Slip and Fall Lawyer
Table of Contents
- Common Causes of Slip and Fall Accidents
- The Statute of Limitations
- The Elements of a Slip and Fall Case in Texas
- Your Legal Damages
- Comparative Fault
- Calculating the Value of Your Pain and Suffering
- Addressing the Matter of the Insurance Company
- Turn to an Experienced Dallas Slip and Fall Lawyer for the Legal Guidance You Need
When you visit a local restaurant, grocery store, day spa, or any other enterprise, you’re there to do business in one form or another, and the last thing you expect to encounter is a dangerous slipping hazard that leaves you seriously injured. Unfortunately, not all business owners and managers are as careful as they should be when it comes to maintaining their premises in the condition necessary to allow for the safe passage of their customers, clients, and other guests. If a slip and fall accident that was caused by a property owner or manager’s negligence leaves you injured, don’t wait to reach out for the professional legal guidance of an experienced Dallas slip and fall lawyer.
Slip and fall accidents can have countless underlying causes, and each and every one of these claims includes its own unique circumstances. There are, however, several causes of slip and falls accidents that commonly make their way into slip and fall claims, including when the following types of hazards aren’t tended to in a reasonably efficient manner:
- When a spilled drink at a restaurant causes a customer to slip and fall
- When something liquid is spilled or dropped in the aisle of a grocery store and causes a customer to slip and fall
- When customers track in moisture and debris into a store’s entrance, which leads to a slip and fall
- When a customer trips and falls on a business’s worn or otherwise dangerously maintained flooring or on a poorly maintained outside walkway or parking lot
- When a customer trips and falls on a staircase due to inadequate lighting, a poorly maintained floor covering, an inadequate railing, or an overly slippery surface (such as highly polished marble)
- When an employer fails to keep walkways decluttered and reasonably safe for the passage of their employees
If someone else’s negligence causes you to slip and fall, seeking the compensation to which you are entitled is very likely to play an important role in your ability to reach your fullest recovery, but you do not have an unlimited amount of time to do so. In Texas, the statute of limitations for filing a slip and fall lawsuit against the at-fault party is only two years from the date of the injury-causing accident. While this may seem like plenty of time to get the job done, it’s important to remember that after being seriously injured in a slip and fall accident, you’re probably at your most vulnerable, and all of the following are likely to apply:
- You’re facing mounting medical bills and expenses.
- You’re experiencing a decrease in earnings.
- You’re battling considerable physical and emotional pain and suffering.
These factors can add up and make moving forward with filing a lawsuit in the relatively short span of two years exceptionally difficult, which is why working closely with an experienced slip and fall lawyer from the get-go is always in your best interest.
There are a variety of elements that must be present in order for you to bring a successful slip and fall case in Texas.
You were an invited guest who was welcome on the property (that ultimately caused you to be injured) at the time of the accident, meaning that you were not trespassing at the time the accident happened. For example, if you crawl over a barbed wire fence to make your way into a boarded-up building that is covered with warning signs and are injured in the process, the element of being an invited guest is not likely to stick.
The defendant (the party that you deem at fault for your injury-causing accident) must have been responsible for the commercial property at the time of your accident. The defendant in your claim can be any of the following:
- The property’s owner
- The property’s manager
- The property’s landlord
There must have been an unsafe condition on the property that created a risk of harm for you and other guests and that the responsible party either knew about or reasonably should have known about. The responsible party failed to eliminate the risk-causing factor or to adequately warn you and other guests about it, which amounts to a breach of the duty of care owed to you.
The Cause of Your Injuries
The defendant’s breach in duty of care must have directly caused you to be injured, and your injuries must correlate with verifiable legal damages.
Your legal damages, which is how the law refers to your losses, break down into three primary categories.
If your injuries are serious, your medical expenses are very likely to be hefty and can be ongoing (if they lead to complications or to secondary health concerns). It’s important to have a clear understanding of your full range of medical expenses before signing off on a settlement offer from the insurance company that may not even come close to covering your complete medical damages, and that will leave you with no further legal recourse. Common medical costs include:
- Emergency care
- Surgical care and follow-up care
- Medical treatment, tests, and procedures
- Medical care from doctors, specialists, and other medical professionals
- Prescription medications
- Physical or occupational therapy
- Pain management
You’ve been injured by a property owner’s negligence, and while you address the matter of regaining your health and well-being, you will very likely be off the job and will experience a decrease in earnings as a result. This financial setback is especially difficult in the face of your growing medical expenses, and if your earning potential is affected, the matter becomes that much more challenging.
Pain and Suffering
In addition to those losses that you can attach a price to, there is your physical and emotional pain and suffering to endure. Being injured in the course of slipping and falling in a business can be as emotionally jarring as it is physically painful, and overcoming these emotional and physical damages can be exceptionally difficult.
If the insurance company is attempting to demonstrate that you are partially (or fully) at fault for the slip and fall that left you injured, don’t be surprised (and don’t be fooled). The insurance company is in the business of making money, and it will do what it can to safeguard its profits. Further, the insurance company is fully aware of exactly how vulnerable you are, which means that you can expect it to take its best shot. Because it’s human nature to blame slipping and falling on our own clumsiness, the insurance company may push this narrative to the hilt, but this doesn’t make it the truth. Even, however, if you do share some of the fault for the slip and fall that leaves you injured, this does not legally bar you from seeking damages. As long as you are deemed no more than 50 percent responsible for the injury-causing slip and fall, you can see the percentage of damages for which the property owner or manager is responsible.
Let’s consider a very basic example (as a means of explanation). If a restaurant manager fails to address a spill near your table and this lapse in attention causes you to slip and fall while you are on your way to the restroom, the manager very likely bears considerable responsibility for your injuries. If, however, you were wearing very slippery shoes that you knew to be slippery at the time, you may be deemed the party responsible. For the sake of ease, let’s say that your claim settles for $100,000 and that your slippery shoes are found to leave you 10 percent responsible. In this situation, your settlement will be reduced by 10 percent, leaving you with $90,000 in compensation.
While putting a value on your medical expenses and your lost earnings is a straightforward process that involves simply adding up the costs, there is no set calculation process for the pain and suffering you endure. Often, however, slip and fall cases in Texas employ a multiplier method. By this standard, the severity of the accident and the pain and suffering you endured will be assigned a number that ranges from 1.5 to 5. The more serious your injuries and the more likely they are to have lasting repercussions, the higher the number will be. Let’s say that your injuries (in the accident sketched out above) are fairly serious and that the multiplier of 3 is therefore attached, meaning that your $90,000 settlement will be multiplied by 3, leaving you with $27,000 in compensation for your pain and suffering and leaving you with $117,000 in compensation overall.
While you are correct in your understanding that the insurance company is paid to address your claim and to compensate you fairly, this does not mean that obtaining just compensation is going to be a straightforward process. In fact, the insurance company has plenty of tricks up its sleeve that are intended to bolster its profits and to keep your settlement as low as possible.
Making an Early Settlement Offer
When an insurance company gets back to you with an early settlement offer, it is a fairly good sign that it is attempting to cut your claim off at the pass, hoping to settle the matter before you recognize the full extent of your damages. The insurance company is aware that you are in a financial bind and that you are likely desperate to settle, but settling for less than the amount to which you are entitled is not going to do you or your recovery any favors. Accepting a settlement before you’ve discussed the matter with a knowledgeable slip and fall lawyer who is familiar with your claim is not well-advised.
Delaying the Claims Process
While you can expect the claims process for your slip and fall accident to be fairly lengthy and complicated, there are laws in place that are intended to keep the insurance company from overly complicating the matter and from prolonging the claims process artificially. Insurance companies, however, are known for pushing boundaries, and cutting through these practices, which are intended to break your spirit (as the claimant), can be very difficult without an experienced slip and fall lawyer in your corner.
Denying the Severity of Your Injuries
Your slip and fall claim will hinge on the damages you’ve suffered, and because the insurance company is very invested in keeping your settlement as low as possible, it may attempt to deny the severity of your damages. Proving the extent of your medical expenses and attendant lost earnings comes down to documenting those financial losses, but the insurance company may cast doubt on the direct relationship between these costs and your slip and fall accident or may question whether a preexisting injury played a role. The most important steps you can take to help thwart the insurance company’s practices are following your doctor’s orders and instructions carefully and giving social media the cold shoulder until your claim has settled. That innocent post of your frolicking on the beach can be reframed as evidence that your pain and suffering is less intense than you originally claimed. When you take your injuries seriously, you make it difficult for the insurance company not to follow suit.
The accomplished Dallas slip and fall lawyers at The Patel Firm recognize exactly how devastating and dangerous slip and fall accidents can be, and we dedicated our impressive practice to helping clients like you fully recover on their physical, financial, and emotional losses. We’re on your side and here to help you, so please don’t wait to contact or call us at 361-400-2036 for more information today.