None of us is immune from a fall. Falls can be embarrassing, but usually the biggest bruise is to our ego. Sometimes, however, falls cause serious injuries, like head injuries, broken bones, or torn ligaments.
If you’ve come to this webpage, you may have been seriously injured as a result of a fall. Maybe you slipped on a puddle of water going into the drug store, tripped over a rolled up floor mat at the entrance to a grocery store, or slipped on debris in the home improvement store. Whatever the cause, injuries from falls can be serious.
If you or someone you love was hurt in a fall at a place of business, you may be entitled to compensation for the injuries, time off of work, medicals bills, and the pain and suffering that was a result of the fall. Cases involving injuries from a slip and fall or a trip and fall are known generally as premises liability cases.
A premises liability case can arise almost anywhere, although most claims are filed against businesses because businesses tend to attract more people on a daily basis than come to a typical home. While most of the principles I’ll address here apply equally to people injured at someone’s home as to people injured at a place of business, for the most part I’ll be addressing slip and fall and trip and fall claims brought against businesses.
Trip and Fall or Slip and Fall. What’s the difference?
Trip and fall cases arise when a person trips over a hazard present at a business. The most common causes are rolled up floor-mats, uneven pavement that was not properly marked, or other hazardous conditions. These cases are distinct from slip and fall cases in that the cause of the fall was a trip, rather than a slip.
Slip and fall cases most frequently occur during winter months when people track in snow from outside, and the snow melts and forms a puddle. Slip and fall cases also occur on icy sidewalks, and other places where snow and ice are caused to accumulate. Slip and fall cases are not limited to the winter months, however, as they can also be caused by someone mopping the floor without proper signage, or even by produce or liquid spilled at a grocery store.
Is the Business Responsible for My Injuries?
To hold a business responsible for causing injuries from a slip and fall or trip and fall, you must be able to show that the fall was caused by something that the victim could not have reasonably known about. Classic examples are when snow or ice is improperly removed, or when precautions to safely remove snow and ice were not followed properly. Likewise, a business can be held responsible if, for example, liquid is spilled in a restaurant or a floor is being mopped but caution signs were not placed appropriately and in an adequate amount of time to warn guests of the potential hazard.
What to Do If You Were Hurt in a Slip and Fall or Trip and Fall Incident
Seek Medical Attention
If you slipped or tripped and were injured, the first step is to seek appropriate medical attention. If you believe you were seriously injured, ask to have emergency medical personnel called to the scene. Before leaving the scene of the incident, ask to complete an incident report. It is also a good idea to try to get the names and contact information for anyone who may have been a witness.
If you did not seek emergency medical treatment at the scene, or if medical treatment was not offered and you are experiencing symptoms of an injury, contact a medical provider or go to the emergency room and explain that you were hurt when you tripped or slipped at a place of business.
Hire a Top-Notch New Jersey Slip and Fall/Trip and Fall Injury Attorney
Once your immediate medical symptoms have been treated and you have started on the road to recovery, it is important that you contact a New Jersey premises liability attorney as soon as possible after the injury. Often, as a matter of record keeping, businesses will destroy or delete surveillance videos or other recordings that may be useful in establishing that the business owner failed to do something that they should have done to prevent your injury. If you wait too long, this information may be destroyed.
Once you hire an attorney, your lawyer will inform the business of your claim and request that the business preserve any potential evidence. If the business owner later destroys evidence that they knew could be relevant to your case, your attorney can add a claim for destruction of evidence.
Focus on Your Recovery
Once you’ve hired and met with an injury lawyer to handle your case, your job is to focus on getting better. It is important that you follow the advice of your medical provider. Also, make every effort to go to your scheduled appointments. If you begin to skip lots of appointments, the attorneys defending the business where you fell can easily argue that, if you weren’t hurt enough to go to the doctor, then you must have recovered.
Is Your Doctor Comfortable Working With Lawyers?
In choosing a doctor, it is important that he or she be comfortable working with attorneys. In most cases, you lawyer will ask the doctor, and possibly other medical providers, to write expert reports about your symptoms and treatment to prove that your injuries were caused by the fall, as opposed to a preexisting condition or something that happened after the fall.
Defense lawyers will try to find alternate potential causes of your injury, and will often use prior injuries or other complaints of pain to argue that there was some other cause of your symptoms.
As you recuperate, give some thought to time missed from work, whether you needed to use personal time, vacation time, or sick time, and how your injuries have effected you. Are there things you used to do that you’re not able to do now? Things like playing with your children or grandchildren, hobbies and sports, or even work around the house or yard-work?
Moving from Recovery to Negotiation
Once you finish your medical treatment, let me know. I will collect your medical bills and records, and document any claim for lost wages, including the use of vacation, sick time, or personal time. I will also address your claim for pain and suffering. I put this information together and send it to the insurance company for the business where you were injured. This is the beginning of negotiating a settlement. Negotiation can be can be a lengthy process, and I will keep you involved and informed throughout. And rest assured, I will never a settle your claim without your authorization to do so.
Filing Your Premises Liability Case in New Jersey Superior Court
If we are unable to reach a settlement, I will file your case in court. Understand that, even though my negotiations are often with an insurance company, I generally cannot name the insurance company as a defendant. Rather, the lawsuit will be filed against the business where you were injured, and anyone else who may have been responsible for the condition that caused your fall.
Litigation is lengthy and time consuming. A case can take more than a year to work its way through court before it finally goes to trial. During that time, I will have met with the judge and opposing counsel, so the judge will be familiar with your case. There are often a number of pretrials where the lawyers meet with the judge to discuss the progress of the case, and address any possibilities for resolution. I will also have exchanged lots of information with the opposing attorney, and will take depositions (statements under oath) from witnesses. It is likely that defense counsel will have taken your deposition, as well. I always meet with my clients to prepare them for their deposition, so you understand how the deposition fits in the larger scheme of the litigation process, and to put to rest any fears you may have. Once depositions are complete, your case may go to mediation or non-binding arbitration.
If, after all these attempts at resolution, we are unable to come to an agreement, I will take your case to trial and present it to a jury.
If You Were Hurt From a Slip and Fall or Trip and Fall Accident in New Jersey, Contact The Slaven Law Firm Today
If you or someone you love was hurt in a fall,contact personal injury attorney Stephen Slaven today for a free initial consultation. Call me at (609) 587-3250, or complete my online form.