Slip and fall accidents are an unfortunately all-too-common occurrence. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), millions of people fall each year—and more than one out of every four individuals 65 or older falls annually. The CDC says that three million older individuals (65 and up) go to emergency departments for treatment from falling every year, and there are 800,000 people who are hospitalized.
Slip and fall accidents can happen anywhere: at home, walking in the neighborhood, or shopping for groceries. But what if you slip and fall on the steps outside a friend’s apartment? In this scenario, many questions arise. What happens next? For the injured party, they will likely want someone to be responsible for their medical bills, yet they do not want to sue their friend. So who is responsible? How does the injured individual get their money? After an incident, an individual should find an experienced slip and fall attorney to help them navigate these pressing questions.
Navigating the Aftermath of a Slip and Fall Accident
If you suffer a slip and fall accident, the first thing you should do is seek medical attention. By doing this, you are not only getting the medical care you need, you are also creating a record of your injuries. In addition to seeking medical attention, the next step you should take is to report the fall to the property’s owner or manager—and then keep a copy of the report. Also, following a slip and fall accident, the victim should be diligent and document everything. Collect as much evidence as possible for a potential lawsuit or settlement with the negligent party or their insurance company.
In addition to keeping copies of all documents related to the accident (medical bills, correspondence, etc.), an individual can take steps to strengthen their case by documenting the scene of the accident. For example, if someone is visiting a friend’s apartment complex and they slip and fall on the staircase, then they should take photographs and/or video of the scene where it happened. Maybe there was an issue with the staircase that the landlord neglected to take care of, such as a partially broken step that led to the individual losing their balance and falling. Or perhaps there was a circumstance that should have been taken care of that led to the fall, like a slippery liquid covering the steps that was spilled and not cleaned up. Whatever the case may be, it is always important to thoroughly document the scene of the accident in order to potentially strengthen a case.
When a case commences, the injured party may be deposed. During this process, they will have to answer a litany of questions related to the incident and its aftermath. Individuals who are injured in a slip and fall incident will likely have to discuss everything from their medical history before the event to how they have been impacted since the fall to the smallest detail about the incident, such as what part of their body actually hit the ground first. Individuals need to be prepared to recall a wealth of information during this process and need to be very careful about how they answer.
One important thing to keep in mind if you are involved in a slip and fall accident is to not discuss the accident because you don’t want to inadvertently provide any ammunition for the opposing side. Far too often, people overshare information on social media or through other channels, providing information that can later be used against them. Following a slip and fall accident, avoid saying anything that could hurt you. And no matter what, do not accept any blame for the incident. By saying to another person even in passing that the incident was potentially your fault, you could be hurting your chances of recovering.
Finding Out Who is at Fault
One of the most important things to figure out in a slip and fall accident is who exactly is liable. For someone who is injured when visiting a friend’s apartment, there are factors that need to be examined, particularly if they are a renter and do not own the building.
For landlords, there is a legal obligation to make sure that their property is free from dangerous conditions. This means everything from the steps inside and outside of the building to common areas such as lobbies, elevators, and laundry rooms. It should be noted, however, that landlords are typically not liable for accidents that occur from dangerous conditions located within the actual unit of a tenant. So, for instance, if someone slipped and fell in their friend’s apartment because they spilled water on the kitchen floor and did not clean it up, then the landlord would not be legally responsible for the fall since they did not know about those conditions. However, if there is a condition within a tenant’s unit and the landlord has been notified about it and subsequently fails to act when they had a responsibility to do so, then the landlord can potentially be held liable for injuries that result from that condition.
It should be noted that there may be other parties who could be at fault. An experienced Delaware slip and fall lawyer can help you figure out who may have liability for your accident, such as a property management company that had a duty to maintain the part of the premises where your injury occurred.
What Can You Sue For?
The injuries resulting from a slip and fall accident can be life-altering and even deadly. According to the CDC, one in every five falls causes a serious injury, whether someone breaks a bone or suffers from a head injury. In fact, the CDC says that falls are the top cause of traumatic brain injuries, while over 95 percent of all broken hips occur as a result of a fall.
When you are injured in a slip and fall accident, you have the ability to file a lawsuit to recover compensation for your injuries.
Medical Bills (Past and Future)
You can sue to recover for your medical bills resulting from the accident. This means any costs for doctor’s visits, prescriptions, physical therapy, X-rays—anything that had to be paid as a result of your accident. In addition to suing for actual costs incurred, the victim of a slip and fall accident can also sue for future medical bills. As previously noted, falls can result in life-changing injuries. It might not be the type of injury that someone can move past in a month or two. For some victims of slip and fall accidents, they might need years or a lifetime of medical treatment. From prescription medication to continual doctor’s visits to frequent physical therapy, the impact of a slip and fall may last a significantly long time. Because of this, an individual can sue for future medical costs in addition to the costs that they already incurred, allowing them to receive much-needed compensation so that they are not financially responsible for their injury that was caused by the negligence of another person.
A victim of a slip and fall accident can also recover for lost wages that result from their injury. Many who suffer from injuries in a slip and fall are unable to get back to work immediately as they go through the recovery process. To remedy this, they can sue the negligent party to try and recover lost wages to compensate them for the time that they were unable to work.
Future Lost Earning Potential
Individuals can also sue for future lost earning potential. Unfortunately, some who are hurt in slip and falls might not be able to work for months or years—some are unable to ever work again. By suing for future lost earning potential, an injured individual can seek compensation for the wages that they could have possibly made if they had not been injured.
Diminished Quality of Life
Individuals can also sue for diminished quality of life. As one can expect, following a slip and fall, many people are not able to enjoy life as they once did. They may not be able to walk around their home or even leave their home for that matter. To help remedy this, injured individuals can sue to receive compensation for the toll that the injury has taken on their ability to enjoy life.
Individuals who have lost a family member due to a slip and fall accident may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit as well.