Slip and fall claims are one of the most difficult legal cases to navigate. Even if the accident was truly not your fault, it can be easy for the property owner's insurer to twist the facts and prevent you from getting adequate compensation. If you have recently been injured in a fall and are considering a slip and fall claim, here are four things you should know to help you win your case.
Liability Must Be Proven
There are several situations where the property owner may not be at fault, even if it is undeniable that there is an unsafe condition on the property. Most importantly, you must be able to prove that the owner had reasonable notice of the unsafe condition. If your accident occurred immediately after the problem developed, the property owner will probably not be held accountable. An example is if you tripped over grocery items in a store immediately after they had been spilled.
You have a better chance of winning your case if the property owner was aware of the problem but was negligent and did not solve it in a timely manner. In some cases, the owner may not be able to resolve the problem immediately. You may have a case if the owner has gone an unreasonable amount of time without remedying the problem or posting a warning.
Damages Must Have Resulted From the Fall
Any time that you go through with a slip and fall claim, you should have thorough documentation of the damages that resulted from the fall. In addition to medical records that document the injuries that you received from the fall, you should have pay records and tax forms that show your lost income if you were out of work.
Insufficient medical records can often be the weakest part of a victim's slip and fall claim. If your existing records do not provide sufficient legal evidence that your injuries resulted from the fall, you may need to get a letter from your doctor specifically indicating that the fall was the cause. This can be expensive, but can be one of the most influential documents to help you win your case.
The Law Will Consider Carelessness of the Victim
Slip and fall claims in most states include a concept of comparative negligence between the property owner and the victim. Even if the owner was undoubtedly negligent, your compensation can be reduced if it is found that you significantly contributed to your own accident. One of the most important factors to consider is whether you had a legitimate reason to be in the location that the accident took place. If you are in a section of the property where visitors are not supposed to be located, the owner may not be found at fault at all for the unsafe condition.
You also need to be able to prove that you were taking reasonable caution to avoid the fall. If you were distracted on your phone or weren't holding a handrail when going down icy stairs, your compensation will likely be reduced. Wearing unsafe shoes or clothing and running or jumping in slippery areas are other examples of situations where you may be held partially responsible for the injury.
Always Hire an Attorney
Because determining fault in a slip and fall claim is not always obvious, you should always have a lawyer to help you get the maximum compensation. The lawyer will make sure that the defendant's insurance company takes you seriously, where they may not acknowledge liability if you are unrepresented. A lawyer will also assist you in collecting all the documents you need for your case by making sure you get copies of your medical record in a timely manner and determining if they are sufficient to prove your damages without a specialized letter from the doctor.
Slip and fall claims are one of the most difficult legal cases to win, but they are not impossible. Keep these tips in mind, and begin your claim as soon as possible after the accident to improve your chances of getting the compensation that you deserve.
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27 January 2015
Too many single people assume they don't need to plan their estate. My brother fell into this category, and his unexpected passing left our entire family struggling to deal with his home, belongings, and financial accounts. It took nearly three years for the courts to set up a deal because he left no paperwork detailing how he wanted his estate divided. The situation immediately convinced me to work on my own estate, even though I'm still in my early 30's and don't have children or a spouse to worry about. Since it's a little harder to pick beneficiaries and estate managers when you're single, I collected the resources I used for making my own decisions and decided to publish them here on my blog. Use these resources before talking to an estate planning attorney so you're prepared for making hard decisions.