You have been injured in a slip and fall accident. You never imagined that falling down could cause so much chaos in your life. You are struggling with pain, missing work, and dealing with doctors and insurance issues. It seems overwhelming.
You know that you should call an attorney, but you have so many questions. Do you really need an attorney – the insurance company seems to be pushing hard that you do not speak to one. What should you do?
We understand the crisis that you find yourself in right now. Many of our clients have experienced the same crisis and have felt the same way. In an effort to try to eliminate some of your questions and help you make sense of this situation, we have answered some of the most frequent questions that we are asked about slip and fall accidents.
Steps to Take After a Slip and Fall Accident
Falling in a public area often seems more embarrassing than anything. Your pride has been hurt, and you are more worried about getting up and stopping everyone from staring than anything else.
But what happens when it is not that easy to get up. What do you do when falling has caused you to hit your head so hard you feel dizzy, or pushing down on your arm to get up sends excruciating pain through your arm and shoulder? What happens when you stand up, and your back hurts so much you need to sit back down?
Even if the pain is not that bad right then, it could be in a day or two. Many times, the adrenaline from falling and being embarrassed blocks the pain so that you can get up and get out of the embarrassing situation. Then, a day or two later, you find yourself at home missing work, taking pain relievers, and using packs of ice to dull the pain.
To protect yourself, you should take the following steps when you have been involved in a slip and fall accident:
- Report the accident to the manager or property owner. You want to make sure that an official report has been made of the event. This gives you the proof you need to show the insurance company that an accident has occurred and that the property owner has acknowledged that accident
- Get a medical evaluation on the day of the accident. Even if you believe that you are not seriously hurt, it is important to be evaluated by a medical professional. A headache or stiff muscle can be a sign of a much more serious injury like a fracture or a concussion. Never place yourself at risk by not seeking medical care.
- Take photos. If you can, take photos of the scene when the accident happened. Make sure to take pictures of your injuries. If you have to, return to the scene, or have a loved one return, to take pictures where you fell.
- Ask for a copy of accident report and make sure the name of the insurance company covering the property is included in the information.
- Take down any information from witnesses to the event.
- Contact a Philadelphia slip and fall attorney about your accident
- Make sure that you document everything and keep records. Create a slip and fall file for medical records, expenses, and documentation of any interactions that you have with the insurance company prior to speaking with an attorney.
- Do not give recorded statements to the insurance company. Politely decline and refer them to your attorney.
- Do not wash the clothes or shoes you were wearing at the time of the accident. They can be a form of evidence.
- Do not put any information about the event – good or bad- on social media. The insurance company will monitor your social media accounts as soon as you make a claim for information to use against your case.
When Should I Contact a Slip and Fall Attorney?
It will always be in the best interest of your case to call a Philadelphia personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after the accident occurs. Why? Because it gives your case more advantages to start investigating the event.
When your attorney can start investigating your case soon after it happens, the witnesses will have all the details fresh in their memories. They will be able to provide more detailed statements. The risks of witnesses moving or not being present to interview also diminishes the sooner the attorney can make contact.
Additionally, when you speak to an attorney early in the case, you will have the knowledge you need to proceed through the case. You will know your legal rights, what is expected of you from a legal standpoint, what is expected of the insurance company. Having this knowledge is always an advantage.
Is Hiring a Philadelphia Slip and Fall Lawyer Worth The Effort?
Hiring an attorney can feel intimidating. Many people would just like to forget the entire incident and hope that things work out on their own. Falling and getting hurt in a public place already made you feel embarrassed but having to relive that event when explaining it to an attorney seems like you are adding pain to the event.
You want to believe that everything would just work out, and the insurance company will be fair. But in reality, you know that this won’t happen. You had heard the horror stories of people losing everything because they didn’t have legal representation when they were injured.
So you have to ask yourself: Is speaking with an attorney about the accident better than:
- Living in pain because you didn’t get the medical care needed for recovery?
- Losing your job because you can’t return to work in enough tie from the pain?
- Filing for bankruptcy because you cannot cover your debts without working?
- Giving up your enjoyment of life because you are in pain and you cannot get medical care?
- Feeling helpless because a slip and fall has completely changed your life?
Of course, the answer to all of those questions is: no. None of those reasons are valid for not speaking with an attorney.
Our attorneys are compassionate and understanding. They know it takes courage to talk about how an accident happened. They understand that revealing information about injuries and how they affect your life is very intimate and that you feel vulnerable. We understand, and we care.
Our attorneys are not here to judge you. We are only here to provide you a valuable service in your time of need. We are here to relieve you of the legal issues surrounding your accident so that you can focus on your personal healing and recovery.
Is hiring an attorney worth the effort? Yes. It is the best way to protect your rights and relieve your stress during such a difficult time.
How Can a Philadelphia Slip and Fall Lawyer Help Me?
Most insurance companies covering a slip and fall accident will try to make contact with the victim as soon as possible after the event to start the claims process. Part of that initial contact is to “reassure” the injury victim that everything is being handled and under control. Some adjusters even “recommend” that the victim just allows them to handle the process and avoid contacting an attorney.
This has led many of our clients to ask: What can an attorney do for me that the insurance company will not do? The answer: a lot.
When you hire a Philadelphia slip and fall lawyer to manage your case, they will provide you with the following services:
- Establish fault for the accident and legal responsibility
- Obtain surveillance video and other photographic evidence of the fall and the conditions leading to that fall
- Gather evidence to show that the property owner should have taken more action to prevent the accident from occurring.
- Interview witnesses to create a total story of the event and not just the partial story was given by any one person.
- Review all medical records related to your injury and use that information to show why you are entitled to compensation.
- Prepare your case from the start as if it were going to trial.
- Create a demand package that shows the insurance company why you need compensation and the amount of the compensation necessary to make you “whole.”
- Negotiating with the insurance company on your behalf so that you obtain the largest settlement possible for your losses.
- We will represent you through all legal proceedings including depositions, interviews, and any court hearings necessary.
- Answer all of your legal questions about your case and the proceedings.
- Make sure all of your debts associated with the accident are paid before finalizing your case. We will even negotiate to reduce medical bills if necessary so that you receive the most compensation.
Why Do I Deserve Compensation For My Slip and Fall Accident?
It has been our experience that many people believe that they are not entitled to compensation when they have been injured in a slip and fall accident. They think that if the insurance company covers their immediate medical bills, everything is okay.
However, we want our clients to consider these reasons to understand why they are entitled to receive compensation when they have been injured.
- Medical Costs. You should not be responsible for covering your medical costs related to the injury. That includes immediate and future medical costs related to the injury. What happens if the pain does not go away, and you need future care? What happens if you need a special therapy to eliminate the pain, and the insurer declines the treatment because they feel it is too expensive? When you have an attorney managing your case, you will receive all of the necessary medical care you need as well as have the costs for these treatments covered.
- Your Lost Income. Why should you lose income because you were injured as a result of the negligence of another person? Your lost income and benefits should be compensated. Additionally, if you cannot return to work or can only return at a limited capacity, you should be compensated for these losses.
- Your Career. What if the injury has changed your ability to work in your career? Should you be responsible for retraining? Should you be required to take a lesser career at lesser pay? If your career is damaged because of your injury, you should be compensated.
- The Impact of the Injuries. Injuries have the potential to change everything in your life. Living with pain temporarily or permanently can affect everything. It can affect your hobbies, your relationships, even your overall happiness. You should be compensated for these changes and losses so that you can begin to rebuild your life.
You do have the ability to sue for loss of quality of life. Your life has meaning and purpose; it is wrong for it to be taken away due to the negligence of others. The law allows you to sue for compensation for these losses as a way for you to regain control of your life.
Basic Information About Slip and Fall Accidents
Most people understand the general way that an injury case works, even if they have never been involved in a case prior to their accident. However, there are some parts of a slip and fall accident claim that are not common knowledge.
Having a working knowledge of these aspects of your accident claim is empowering for the victim. It gives the victim a way to know exactly what is taking place at all times with their claim.
Establishing The Facts of Your Claim
While it would be very nice if the responsible party admitted fault and agreed to all terms of your claim, it never happens. In fact, even when a responsible party does admit fault, even partially, the insurance company steps up and denies everything.
This is why it is essential to have an attorney on your side so that you can provide the evidence necessary to prove your claim. You need to build a solid case for the insurance company to consider negotiating a settlement.
Your case will face the following challenges:
– Proving Fault. Your attorney will have to use video, photos, and witness statements to provide undeniable proof that the accident occurred and that it was not your fault. Your attorney will show that anyone under the same conditions could have fallen and been injured due to the specific conditions at the property at the time of your fall.
– Proving Damages. You will have to show that all portions of your compensation request are valid. You will need to submit proof that you have sustained losses because of the injuries. This will include financial losses due to lost wages, medical expenses, and losses to your enjoyment of life.
The insurance adjuster is going to push hard, stating that financial losses and changes to your lifestyle are not a result of the injury but other changes in your life.
– Insurance Issues. It is not uncommon for the insurance company to try to create as many obstacles as possible with your claim. They may “drag their feet” in processing requests for treatment, they may deny required treatment due to costs, they may deny treatment because they feel that the injury could not possibly be from the fall. The insurance company may also push for the closure of the case with a very small settlement offer so that they can be relieved of responsibility for the claim.
Fighting Back Against These Challenges
Having an attorney manage your case will eliminate many, if not all, of these problems with your case. Our job as your legal counsel is to fight back against these unfair tactics by the insurance company and help you secure the compensation that you are entitled to for your losses.
Our attorneys understand personal injury and insurance laws and will aggressively protect your rights.
Who Can Be Sued for a Slip and Fall Accident?
Every slip and fall case is different. Depending on the facts of your case, one or more of the following could be held responsible for your accident:
- Commercial property owner or property management
- Private property owner
- Maintenance company or custodian
- Landlord, complex management company, or the tenant
- Government entity
Establishing the actual responsible party for your case is something that your attorney must do to secure compensation for your claim. An accident may have occurred on a property, but the owner or management may not be at actual fault.
In some cases, there may be multiple responsible parties. Establishing fault is usually the hardest part of any slip and fall action.
Payment of Slip and Fall Claims
Some people are worried about making a claim for a slip and fall accident because they feel the compensation will harm the responsible party. Falling at the home of a friend or at your favorite shop should not disqualify them from being held responsible.
Commercial properties have insurance policies on them to cover these events. When you are awarded compensation for your injuries, it will be the insurer that pays for the compensation, not the business or your friend. This is exactly what these policies are in place to cover.
The only real limit on making a claim is the value of the insurance policy. If the policy is limited, your compensation may also be limited. This is something your attorney will discuss with you based on the facts of your case.
The Four Parts To A Personal Injury Claim
Part of the process of every personal injury claim is establishing the following four conditions:
1. You must establish that there was a Duty of Care present between the injured party and the property owner. A Duty of Care means that the person who owns/operates the property has a responsibility to make sure that anyone entering their property by invitation is not harmed. For a business, opening for business creates a Duty of Care to their patrons. For private property owners, inviting someone to their property creates a Duty of Care.
2. You must show that the Duty of Care has been breached. To prove this, your attorney must show that actions taken by the property owner or management led to the conditions that caused your accident to occur. This could be something as simple as making a repair or making sure ice and snow have been removed from walkways.
3. You must show that the breach of Duty caused you harm. This is evident in the fact that you have been injured. This is easy to prove with the medical records your attorney has obtained.
4. The harm you received must have caused you financial harm. If you have medical expenses, lost wages, endured pain and suffering, or any other type of financial harm, your losses will qualify under this heading.
What Is Negligence In A Slip and Fall Case?
To establish negligence, your attorney must show that the conditions leading to your slip and fall should have been known by the property owner, and actions should have been taken.
For example, if a property owner knows that the light is out on a stairwell, they should have known that not replacing that light could cause someone to fall down the stairs because of the darkness.
Warning someone about a potential problem does not exclude a property from being held negligent for a fall. An example would be a wet floor sign. Placing a wet floor sign up in an area that is wet does not mean that the property owner can just leave the floor wet and continue on as if nothing is going on. A wet floor sign is a temporary warning sign, while a mop or other clean up tools are retrieved to dry the floor.
Your attorney must show that under any circumstances, the property owner should have made the necessary repairs or changes to prevent the fall from happening.
Conditions Leading to Slip and Fall Events
Accidents can happen for any reason. However, there are some common conditions that can lead to a slip and fall event.
- Wet floors from weather conditions, spills, or mopping
- Broken tiles, uneven cracks in flooring
- Loose carpeting, worn areas in carpeting, unsecured throw rugs
- Poorly lit stairwells
- Cluttered stairs, debris on stairs
- Stairs without anti-slip coatings
- Loose or missing railings on staircases
- Escalator or elevator malfunctions
- Construction defects in flooring or outside walkways
- Wires or other tripping hazards on the floor
- Weather conditions
- Holes in grass
- Holes or other defects in pavement or asphalt
- Poorly lit outside areas
Insurance Companies and Slip and Fall Accidents
It is very important to remember that the insurance company is not your friend. Despite all of their heartwarming commercials telling you how much they care, the only concern of an insurance company is their bottom line.
The insurance company will try to lowball your compensation package, deny your claims, and “forget” parts of the compensation that you are entitled to under the terms of their policies. This is why it is crucial to have legal representation for your claim.
Compensation Available for Slip and Fall Accidents
As a victim of a slip and fall accident, you are entitled to receive compensation for your losses. You may receive compensation for one or more of the following types of compensation:
- Medical expenses current and future
- Lost wages and benefits
- Future earning capacity
- Related expenses
- Pain and suffering and mental anguish
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Your attorney will explain to you the types of compensation that you are entitled to based on your case.
How Much Will I Receive For My Case?
Every personal injury case is different. Your compensation will be based on many factors and will reflect your actual losses. When your attorney creates a demand letter for compensation, they will specify the amounts they require for each form of compensation that you are entitled to for your case.
Your attorney will also inform you of each type of compensation you are entitled to and the approximate value. When the insurance company makes an offer, they will provide you with that information and seek your approval to accept or decline the offer. You will be involved in this process until it is settled.
How Do I Pay for a Philadelphia Slip and Fall Lawyer?
Our law firm works on a contingency basis. This means that you do not pay any fees upfront for our services. We only get paid when we win your case. This type of payment structure protects our clients from suffering any additional financial harm when they are dealing with their injuries and cannot work.
Does Wrongful Death Apply to Slip and Fall Claims?
If your loved one has passed away as a result of a slip and fall accident, specific family members can seek damages for wrongful death. Wrongful death claims are designed to help the grieving family.
While suing the responsible party does not help the pain of such a large loss, families that are trying to heal from the death of a loved one should not face financial uncertainty while they are healing and rebuilding their lives.
How Much Time Do I Have to File a Philadelphia Slip and Fall Lawsuit?
Slip and fall accident claims fall under the guidelines of the Statute of Limitations. This means that you only have a short amount of tie between the accident date and the time you can seek financial relief from the responsible party.
In Pennsylvania, you have two years from the date that the accident happened to file a claim for compensation. If the slip and fall injury occurred to a minor, the minor has two years from the day that they turn 18 to file a suit for compensation.
It is always encouraged that you file a claim as soon as possible after the accident. This ensures that evidence is still available and that witnesses are still accessible and have the event fresh in their memory.
What Are Common Injuries From A Slip and Fall Accident?
The most common injuries from a slip and fall include:
- Fractured wrists and ankles
- Torn or damaged rotator cuff
- Spinal or neck injuries (whiplash)
- Skull injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Hip fractures
- tailbone injuries
- Various fractures
- Cuts and bruising
What if I Fall on Public Property?
Some entities are granted immunity from lawsuits on slip and fall accidents. Other entities may require additional proof of the event. However, just because you fell in a public area does not mean you should not seek compensation.
Your attorney will review the events of your case and determine if you can file a case against the public/government entity. It should be understood, however, that Title 59 protects these entities from being sued if the accident happened more than 90 days ago.
If you have been injured on public/government property, it is crucial to contact an attorney immediately.
Are Slip and Fall Compensation Packages Taxable?
The compensation that you receive is not taxable. This is compensation for your losses, not money that you have earned. There are very few reasons that money received from a compensation claim can be taxed. Your lawyer will explain if any portion of your compensation can be taxed.
What If I Fell In My Apartment Complex?
If you fell in the common areas of your apartment complex, the management for the property can be held responsible for your injuries. If you have fallen in your apartment because of something wrong in your apartment that the community has failed to repair, you may also hold them accountable for your injuries.
What Is Comparative Negligence?
In Pennsylvania, there is a law stating that a person who has been injured may be held partially responsible for that injury. This is called comparative negligence. This law, however, does not prevent you from making a claim for compensation.
Under the comparative negligence laws, you can claim for compensation just as long as your part of the responsibility does not exceed 50 percent.
If you are found partially responsible for the accident, your compensation will be reduced by that percentage. So, if you were awarded $100,000 for your claim and was found 10 percent responsible, your compensation would be reduced by 10 percent or $10,000 for a compensation package of $90,000.
Can I Claim for a Fall in a Parking Lot?
Businesses have a responsibility to keep their parking area safe for guests to use. You are required to park your car to enter into their business. Businesses must keep these areas:
- Free from snow and ice
- In good repair
- Clean of debris that could cause a fall
- Well lit so that a person is safe
Can I Sue for Slip and Fall if There Was a Wet Floor Sign?
In most cases, yes. Just because a sign is present doesn’t mean that the property owner is absolved of their Duty of Care. They must take the appropriate actions to keep the area safe (drying) for their clients.
A wet floor sign often represents positive proof for the injured party that there was a danger present because the owner of the property has already placed a sign up acknowledging the problem. The accident was, therefore, a result of the property management not acting on the information and trying to make the floor safe.
Is There Anything Else That I Should Do When I Have Been Injured in a Slip and Fall?
It is very important that you avoid social media when you have been injured in a slip and fall accident. Social media accounts are monitored closely by insurance companies for information that they can use against your case.
It is in your best interest to limit the amount of information you put on social media while your case is active. This includes most types of posts, even if they are not directly related to your case.
For example, a throwback picture of you at a party with friends can be seen as you out having a good time while you are supposed to be home in pain. You know that the picture is five years old, but the insurance company does not.
Posts that say you are having a great time, went on a vacation, having relatives over to celebrate an occasion, and similar posts can all be used as a way to show that your injuries are not as bad as you say. They will state that the quality of your life has not been affected at all because you are still celebrating with loved ones.
Posting derogatory stuff about the place where your accident occurred can also be damaging. The insurance company will see these negative posts and claim that you are a hostile victim and that you are only seeking compensation as a way to retaliate against the property owner.
The best bet is to limit your postings and encourage your friends to stop by your home for a visit. This encourages people not to post information about you online, and you can inform your guests in person about what is taking place in your life. Asking people to stop by also shows the insurer that you are having a difficult time going out to be with friends.
It is natural to want to share this event with friends and family on social media. However, you should limit it to something very simple, like “I was involved in an accident today. Stop by for a visit.”
If you have any additional questions about slip and fall accidents, you are encouraged to schedule a consultation with a Philadelphia slip and fall attorney and have all of your questions answered.