Slip and fall accidents are one of the most common types of personal injuries in Grand Rapids. These accidents happen when a person visits someone else’s property and slips, trips, and falls on a hazard located on the property.
Falls frequently result in very serious injuries that are painful, costly to treat, and that render victims unable to work. Accident victims may be able to file a claim for compensation against the property owner, business, or property occupier to cover the costs associated with their injuries. However, pursuing these claims is not easy and should not be undertaken without help from an experienced Grand Rapids slip and fall lawyer.
For a claim to be successful, you must prove that the property owner or other responsible party was negligent, and that it was this carelessness that caused your injuries. Our Grand Rapids slip and fall lawyers can help you file your claim to seek the full amount of compensation you deserve.
Contact Christensen Law now for a free claim review and discussion about your best legal options.
What Do You Have to Prove in a Slip and Fall Claim?
Slip and fall victims have the burden of proof to establish the following four elements of a premises liability case:
- An unreasonably hazardous condition existed on the property. Slip and fall accidents are caused by unreasonably hazardous conditions on a property. Photos, videos, eyewitness statements, repair records, and incident reports can be very useful when proving this element of your claim.
- The owner of the property or other responsible party knew or reasonably should have known about the hazardous condition. For a property owner to be considered negligent, they must have known about the hazardous condition. Even if the property owner did not know about the hazardous condition, if you can still prove that they reasonably should have known, or that they created the condition, you may still be successful with your claim.
- You were lawfully on the property. Only invitees and licensees are eligible to claim compensation in Michigan. These individuals are legally allowed to be on the property for social or business purposes. If you were trespassing on another person’s property, you are likely unable to claim compensation.
- You suffered an injury. Personal injury claims are meant to compensate you for the injuries and losses you sustained on another person’s property. If you did not suffer an injury or loss, you cannot file an injury claim.
It is difficult to collect evidence and document an accident while you are trying to recover from your injuries. A Grand Rapids slip and fall lawyer will know what evidence to collect, how to collect it, and can ensure your claim is filed properly.
Why You Need a Lawyer for a Slip and Fall Claim
Although it is not required that you hire a lawyer for a slip and fall claim, it is advisable that you always consult with one after an accident. An attorney can conduct an independent investigation into your claim, consulting with experts, if necessary.
A lawyer may also speak to eyewitnesses, and demand a copy of any video surveillance the property owner has that may have captured the accident. It is crucial to do this immediately after the accident, before the footage is erased.
Soon after the accident, the property owner or their insurance company will likely contact you. The insurance company may want to offer you a settlement right away that is unfair and not enough to fully cover the cost of your injuries. If you accept this settlement, you give up your right to seek any additional compensation in the future, even if you learn that the original settlement is not enough.
A lawyer will communicate with both the property owner and the insurer to protect your right to claim the full amount of compensation you deserve.
Compensation for Your Slip and Fall Accident
Victims injured in Grand Rapids slip and fall accidents have the right to claim two different types of compensation. These are economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages are more objective and easier to calculate because they have a concrete dollar value. Economic damages typically include medical expenses, lost income, and loss of earning capacity if you cannot return to the same line of work. You may also claim any other financial loss, including any household costs such as a cleaning service if you can no longer maintain your home due to your injuries.
Non-economic damages are not as easy to calculate because these losses are more subjective, but just as real and just as compensable. The most common types of these damages include pain and suffering, emotional distress, and a loss of enjoyment of life. A lawyer is crucial when calculating the full value of non-economic losses.
Slip and Fall Accident Statute of Limitations
Michigan’s statute of limitations outlines the time limit all accident victims have to file a claim. If you do not file your claim within three years from the date of the accident, you will give up your right to seek compensation.
Many people think that three years is a long time to file a claim, but it is not. Prior to filing your claim, a lawyer will need to conduct an investigation, collect evidence to substantiate your claim, and build a strong case that will help you secure the compensation you deserve. All of this takes time, so it is important to speak to a Grand Rapids slip and fall lawyer as soon as possible after your accident.
Causes of Slip and Fall Accidents
Any hazardous condition can cause a slip and fall accident, but some are more common than others. Examples of some main causes of slip and fall accidents include:
- Uneven walking surfaces – There are a number of different types of uneven walking surfaces, including loose floorboards and mats, worn-out carpeting, potholes on roads, defective sidewalks, cluttered floors, and staircases that are in disrepair. Any of these conditions can easily lead to a slip and fall.
- Wet walking surfaces – Wet walking surfaces are often caused by spilled liquids and freshly mopped floors. Moisture may also collect on other surfaces due to improper drainage or defective gutters. Property owners are responsible for correcting these hazardous conditions, as well.
- Weather – Property owners are responsible for clearing snow and ice when it accumulates. These weather conditions are very dangerous. Although it is impossible to control weather, it is important to shovel walkways and parking lots, and to use salting and sanding techniques.
- Cords and wires – Cords and wires should always be secured to flooring, as these are very common hazards that can cause a person to trip and fall.
- Nursing home neglect – Residents in nursing homes are very vulnerable. For these individuals, a slip and fall can prove fatal. Unfortunately, nursing home neglect is very common and when residents try to move themselves from a wheelchair or bed, or do not have the proper supervision they need even when just walking, they can slip and fall and sustain serious injuries.
- Broken handrails – Handrails are an essential part of helping people get up and down stairs. When a handrail is faulty and a person reaches for it, they do not get the support they need and may fall.
- Poor lighting – When people cannot see where they are going, they may come across a hazard and trip and fall on it. It is for this reason that public spaces and common areas are always appropriately lit.
Any time individuals slip and fall due to one of these or other common causes, they should speak to a Grand Rapids slip and fall lawyer that can assist with their claim.
Places Where Slip and Fall Accidents Often Occur
A slip and fall accident can occur just about anywhere. However, there are some locations that are more common than others. These include:
- Big box stores – Stores such as Costco, Wal-Mart, Meijer, and Target are very large and employees sometimes fail to recognize hazards and correct them. Store owners should always make sure they have enough staff on hand to recognize dangerous conditions and alert someone who can fix it, or warn customers about the hazard.
- Grocery stores – Grocery stores are an extremely common place for slip and fall accidents. One customer may spill something and, if staff members do not clean it up right away, another customer can slip and fall and incur serious injuries.
- Malls – There are many hazards in shopping malls, whether they are created by the retailers that rent space there, or other customers in the mall. Property owners are required to regularly look for dangerous conditions and correct them so no one gets hurt.
- Restaurants – There is a high likelihood for spills in restaurants. When customers are not warned of these conditions, or they are not adequately cleaned, they can cause a slip and fall accident.
- Hotels – One of the most common causes of a slip and fall in a hotel is poor lighting conditions on the property. Broken handrails, staircases, and worn carpeting also often cause slip and fall accidents in hotels.
- Sport stadiums – Whether an accident occurs in a bathroom that has a wet floor, or while climbing the stairs to a person’s seat, or some other dangerous condition, stadium owners are also responsible for ensuring their property is reasonably safe for all visitors.
- Movie theaters – Theaters must be kept dark so the patrons can view the movie. However, these dark conditions can lead to a slip and fall, so stairways must always be well lit.
Tips for Protecting Your Rights If You Have Been Hurt in a Fall
After any accident it is important that you:
- Seek medical attention – If you sustained a serious injury, which is common after a fall, call 911 for emergency care. If you do not need medical attention at the scene, visit an emergency room or urgent care center as soon as possible. When getting examined by a doctor, explain to them how the injury happened. It is important that you receive treatment right away, and the medical records can serve as valuable evidence.
- Take pictures – Photographs can be very important after a slip and fall accident. They can show how the accident happened, that the owner should have known about a dangerous condition, and the severity of your injuries.
- File a report – There is a good chance that you will have to fill out an incident report, particularly if you fell in a business. Ask to speak to the manager or supervisor, fill out the report, and ask for a copy of it before you leave.
- Speak to eyewitnesses – Eyewitness statements can be critical pieces of evidence that could help your claim. If you can, speak to anyone that saw the accident and ask them for their name and contact info.
- Get legal help as soon as possible – After any slip and fall accident, you should contact a lawyer who can help you seek the compensation you deserve for all your losses.
Talk to a Grand Rapids Slip and Fall Attorney Now
Slip and fall accidents are very serious and can result in life-changing injuries. If you have been hurt in a fall on someone else’s property, do not attempt to file a claim on your own.
At Christensen Law, our Grand Rapids slip and fall accident lawyers know how to communicate with insurance companies and negotiate aggressively to seek the full compensation you need. Call us today or contact us online to schedule a free consultation so we can get started on your case.