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Slip and falls occur on private and public property and can result in a wide range of injuries from sprained ankles to broken limbs, torn knee cartilage, spinal fractures, and serious head trauma. Even in cases where liability might seem obvious, injury claimants face many obstacles. You will need the resources, knowledge, and skills of attorneys from Green & Gillispie to navigate through these often-difficult claims to get you the compensation you deserve for your medical expenses, lost income, diminished income capacity, and pain and suffering.
Any time you fall on someone else’s property because of an unsafe condition and suffer an injury, you have a potential claim for compensation. Many of these cases occur in the following settings:
Any hazardous condition can be a factor in causing your accident. Typical causes of slip and fall accidents include:
Any claim for personal injury has certain elements or components, each of which must be proved by the “preponderance of the evidence” standard. In other words, does the evidence indicate that it is more likely than not that the element has been proved? In a typical slip and fall case, these elements are:
The first obstacle to overcome in any personal injury case is to establish liability. Even if you slipped and fell on a wet floor in a grocery store or on an icy surface in a parking lot, this does not automatically impose liability on the property owner.
Liability in a slip and fall claim often depends on the status of the claimant and where the accident occurred. There are three (3) classifications of claimants in a slip and fall case that establishes the degree of care that the property owner must maintain:
1. Invitees—these are persons who generally enter retail or commercial establishments with the implied or express consent of the property owner for their mutual benefit and usually to purchase goods or services. This would include customers in stores and restaurants. In these cases, the property owner has a duty of care to invitees to maintain the property in a reasonably safe condition, but also to protect invitees from any risks or hazards the owner knows about or should know about. To meet the standard of care, the owner should periodically inspect the premises for potential hazards such as fallen items, wet or icy floors, torn carpeting, uneven steps, and poor lighting. But even if there was a hazard that led to the injury, often the owner must have had reasonable notice of its existence.
If someone had dropped a glass bottle that created a slippery surface just seconds before the accident, then there may not have been sufficient notice to the owner of the hazard so that, in the exercise of ordinary and reasonable care, it could have removed, remedied, or a sufficient warning given. But if the owner had no inspection policy or maintenance schedule, or failed to adhere to it, and there was evidence the hazard had been present for several hours or days depending on the nature of the hazard, then the owner might have had constructive notice of the risk that would trigger the obligation to remedy, remove, or warn of the danger in a clear and timely manner.
2. Licensees—a licensee is a person who enters a residence or premises at the implied or express consent of the owner but for his/her own benefit. This would include social guests who are invited to a private homeowner’s residence, as well as fire personnel; mail, package, and delivery persons; and police officers who come to your home in their official capacities.
The property owner owes a licensee no duty until his or her presence on the premises is known or reasonably should be known. Then, the owner owes the licensee only a duty not to cause the licensee injury by willful or wanton conduct. If, however, the owner knows or has reason to know of a condition on the premises which is not open and obvious and which creates an unreasonable risk of harm to licensees, then the owner is under a duty to use ordinary care to make the condition safe or to warn those licensees who do not know or have reason to know of the danger.
The property owner typically has no duty to regularly inspect the premises for possible unknown or hidden hazards. The owner’s duty of care typically only extends to persons whom the owner knew or should have known is on the property, and obligates the owner to use ordinary care to warn those persons of known hazards that are not open and obvious. A hazard or unsafe condition is open and obvious where a person of ordinary intelligence would have been able to discover it upon a casual observation. All persons, with some limited exceptions, have a duty to exercise ordinary care for their own safety and to avoid risks that are deemed open and obvious. Further, landowners must not take measures that intentionally or wantonly injure anyone whom the owner is aware is on their property.
Often, experts are retained to prove liability in slip and fall cases. In many of these cases, your attorney will need to show that a property owner had a deficient inspection or cleaning policy or system. An expert can testify as to industry standards and practices that businesses follow to ensure safety. Experts will typically examine a business’ written inspection policies, daily custodial schedule, sweep sheets for the area where the accident occurred, potential surveillance video of the area, and a list of those persons responsible for cleaning and monitoring the area.
Experts may be needed to prove damages as well, especially in serious injury cases where the injured party suffers a permanent disability and is unable to return to work or to engage in his/her usual daily activities. Life care planners and economists, in conjunction with rehabilitation and medical experts, are typically needed to prove a person’s damages, including lost income capacity and loss of future income, the cost of future medical bills and necessary medical devices, and the nature and severity of the injuries.
Slip and fall claims can be difficult to prove and prosecute, and they require the experience of seasoned personal injury lawyers who know what evidence is needed and the level of proof required in proving your claim. At Green & Gillispie, we offer a free consultation to analyze your claim and to advise you accordingly. We take no fees until we recover a monetary settlement or verdict on your behalf.
You pay nothing out-of-pocket. Personal injury cases are taken by lawyers on a contingency basis, or a percentage of the gross settlement or award that is spelled out in our written contingency agreement with you. If we recover nothing, then you pay nothing. In complex injury cases, attorneys will usually ask for a higher percentage because the case will require much more expense, resources, work and skills. Also, in some cases the percentage is determined by statute or state law.
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It depends on the degree of liability of the other party, your own conduct, how serious your injuries are, how they affect your life, your ability to work and earn an income, the reasonableness of your medical care and costs, and if your injury will be permanent, among many other factors that are considered in evaluating a claim. Of course, what insurance is available is also a consideration. No two cases are exactly alike, and no attorney can or should guarantee that you will receive a certain amount.
You are entitled to economic or special damages that include your medical expenses, property damage, and income loss. You can also collect general or non-economic damages for your pain and suffering against the responsible party, and for how your injuries have diminished your enjoyment of life. Emotional distress, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, embarrassment over scarring or disfigurement, insomnia, development of an addiction to pain medication, and other trauma are also part of your damages. If the defendant’s conduct was especially egregious, malicious, or grossly negligent, you could be awarded punitive damages as well.
Few injury claims are clear-cut as to who is at fault, and there may be other parties who were responsible. But even if another party admits liability, you can harm your case by talking to adjusters and investigators and unknowingly making comments that could place some fault on yourself or that minimizes your injuries. There are also issues about the extent or seriousness of your injuries and proof of your damages that insurance companies will question and challenge. There are many factors that insurance companies consider when handling and evaluating claims. Your Green & Gillispie injury lawyer is trained and experienced in these issues and in how to deal with and negotiate with insurance companies.
Talk to a personal injury lawyer who will review the facts of your case and the applicable laws. Usually, if someone or a company acted carelessly or even intentionally in causing your injuries, you can bring a claim against that person or business personally or depending on the nature of the accident, against that party’s auto policy, homeowner’s policy, commercial liability insurance, or the person’s employer if they were on the job at the time. There may be other insurance policies that apply as well.
In Arkansas, you generally have 3-years from the date of injury or when you discovered or should have discovered your injury. Persons under 18 when injured generally have 3-years after they turn 18 to file a claim. In some complex cases, you may not realize what caused your injuries until years later but may still bring a claim under some circumstances. Keep in mind that some causes of action, such as intentional torts like assault and battery, only provide a 1-year statute of limitations.
Yes, you are entitled to be compensated based on the degree to which your injury was aggravated by the accident. If it was aggravated by a substantial degree that necessitated surgery, for example, your claim could be significant, though your settlement or award might still be dependent on other factors.
You cannot sue your employer in Arkansas, but you could bring a personal injury claim against an outside contractor or other third–party. If you were driving a company car and another driver caused your accident, you can sue that party. If you were injured by a defective machine or piece of equipment, or by being exposed to toxins at your workplace, you could bring a product liability action against the designer, manufacturer or marketer of the product. Workers’ compensation, though, may have a lien or claim against whatever proceeds you collect in a third-party claim.
Anyone who has been injured in an accident is likely to experience many difficulties they have perhaps never experienced before, including high medical bills, lost wages because they can’t go.
Never accept a settlement offer before at least having a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney.
Following an accident that caused you a serious injury, it is not always immediately obvious that the accident victim has plenty of grounds for a successful personal injury claim.
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