Slip and fall accidents generally occur when a person slips or trips on a hazardous condition located on someone else’s property. Some people may think that these accidents are fairly minor, but that is not true in many cases.
Slip and fall accidents frequently result in very serious injuries. These injuries are often so severe that injured individuals are unable to return to work at a time when they have mounting medical bills and significant pain. To help cover the cost of the injuries and other losses, accident victims can file a claim for compensation. However, although these accidents are extremely common and make up many of the personal injury claims filed in Southfield, they still have their own unique challenges.
When filing a claim, you must prove that the property owner was negligent, and this is often difficult. The other side will likely argue that you were partly at fault for the accident, which will reduce the amount of compensation you receive.
Our Southfield slip and fall lawyers are ready ensure your claim is filed properly and pursue the full settlement you deserve. Contact Christensen Law now for a free claim review and discussion of your legal options.
Proving Fault in a Slip and Fall Claim
To be successful when bringing a slip and fall claim, there are four elements you must prove, including:
- Your right to be on the property – The type of visitor you are under Michigan law could affect whether you have a right to file a claim for compensation. Invitees and licensees are individuals who are invited onto the property or have permission to be on the property. Invitees and licensees have slight differences, but these individuals are generally owed the highest duty of care when on someone else’s property. Trespassers on the other hand, are not owed a much of a duty of care and therefore, typically cannot file a slip and fall claim to recover compensation for their injuries. Exceptions may apply when the trespasser is a young child.
- Negligence – Property owners, occupiers, or businesses may be liable for paying compensation when they displayed negligence, or carelessness. In slip and fall claims this negligence usually stems from failing to identify, correct, or warn about hazardous conditions on the property.
- Causation – The dangerous condition must have directly caused the slip and fall accident. If a dangerous condition existed, but it did not cause your injuries, you may not be able to claim compensation.
- Injury – When filing a claim, you must have sustained injuries for which you are trying to secure compensation. Without an injury, there is no claim to file.
A Southfield slip and fall lawyer can help you prove these elements to give you the best chance of success with your claim.
Do I Need a Lawyer for a Slip and Fall?
Too often after an accident, injured individuals do not think they need the help of a lawyer to pursue a claim, particularly if the insurance company offers a settlement right away. However, most accident victims greatly benefit from the help of an attorney.
When pursuing your claim, a lawyer can:
- Prove liability. Like all personal injury claims, slip and fall cases hinge on the concept of negligence. You must prove the property owner or occupier was negligent and therefore, liable for your injuries and losses. Although liability may seem obvious to you after an accident, proving it is often not an easy or straightforward process.
- Work in your best interests. Just as you want to recover compensation for your injuries, the property owner and their insurance company do not want to pay it. They may try many defenses, including saying you were partly to blame for the accident, perhaps because the hazard was obvious. Under Michigan’s comparative fault laws, this could result in a reduction of your compensation if the other side is successful with their argument.
- Seek fair compensation. Even when an insurance company does not directly refuse your claim, they may offer a settlement that is far too low to fully cover the costs of your injuries. A lawyer can aggressively negotiate to seek the fair settlement you deserve, or go to trial to seek a favorable judgment if necessary.
- Take care of legal matters. A lawyer can draft court documents, make sure you meet all deadlines, communicate with the insurance company, speak to witnesses, and draw from an extensive network of experts that can help substantiate your claim. A lawyer will also understand how to accurately evaluate your claim, and refer to case law to support your arguments.
These are just a few of the things a lawyer will do when working on your claim. Essentially, a lawyer will handle every aspect of your case, allowing you to focus on your recovery.
Damages After a Slip and Fall Accident
Damages refer to the financial compensation you can seek for any loss or injury caused by the negligence of another person. The most common types of damages sought in slip and fall claims include:
- Current and future medical expenses
- Loss of income
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering
- Mental distress
- Household necessities, such as cleaning services if your injuries prevent you from maintaining your home
While these are the most common types of damages, you can also claim damages for any other loss specific to your case. For example, if you were preparing for a vacation and cannot go due to your injuries, you can also seek compensation for any paid expense related to the trip.
Time Limit for Filing a Slip and Fall Lawsuit
Like all states, Michigan has a statute of limitations on slip and fall lawsuits, which sets a time limit on your claim. The statute of limitations in Michigan is three years from the date of the accident.
Although there are certain narrow exceptions to this law, in most cases if you do not file your claim within that time, you will likely forfeit your right to compensation.
Common Causes of Slip and Fall Accidents in Southfield
Any hazardous condition can cause a slip and fall accident, but there are some causes that are more common than others. Examples include:
- Uneven and wet surfaces – Loose floorboards, potholes, ripped carpeting, loose mats, poorly constructed staircases, and spilled liquids are some of the most common causes of slip and fall accidents. Property owners are expected to practice good maintenance and make regular checks to ensure all areas are safe.
- Weather – There is little a property owner can do to stop heavy rains, snow, ice and high winds on their property. However, they must accommodate for these conditions by installing proper drainage systems, mopping, shoveling, salting, and so on.
- Nursing home neglect – Sadly, slip and fall accidents are very common in nursing homes. Accidents are more likely to occur when residents are not properly supervised or when the nursing home is not kept in a clean and safe condition.
- Inadequate lighting – Failure to provide proper lighting on dark walkways can result in falls.
Places Where Slip and Fall Accidents Occur
Slip and fall accidents can happen just about anywhere, but certain places are more common than others. Slip and fall accidents often occur in:
- Grocery stores – These stores are one of the most common location for a slip and fall accident to occur. With so many people handling products, an item may break and spill on the floor. Inattentive staff may not warn the customers or clean up the spill, setting the stage for an accident.
- Hotels and resorts – With so many hazards, walkways, and staircases, a slip and fall accident can occur just about anywhere in a hotel or resort.
- Small businesses – Small business owners are very busy people and they are often focused on helping customers, or obtaining new ones. They may lose focus on regularly inspecting the property to ensure it is safe.
- Private homes – Injuring yourself on a friend’s property can seem to place you in a difficult position, but it does happen. It is important to remember that compensation will come from the insurance company, not your loved one. If the injury occurred in an apartment building, another party may be responsible, such as the landlord.
- Public spaces – Slip and fall accidents also happen in public spaces, such as in parks and on sidewalks when these areas are not properly maintained.
Each of these locations presents its own unique challenges. For example, a hotel or resort may require that you give them notice right away about an accident, while filing a claim against the government for a hazard in a public space will also have its own procedural rules. For this reason, it is always best to speak to a lawyer about your claim.
How to Protect Your Rights If You Have Been Hurt in a Fall
To protect your right after a slip and fall accident, immediate action is necessary. The five most important steps you must take are as follows:
- Seek medical treatment. Your health is the most important priority after an accident. You must seek medical treatment as soon as possible, even if you do not think you are injured. Some injuries do not present symptoms for several days or weeks following a fall. Medical records can be important pieces of evidence when pursuing compensation for your injuries.
- Report the accident. Regardless of where a slip and fall occurs, you must report it to the owner, landlord, or manager. Provide the details of the accident in writing and ask for a copy before you leave.
- Document the accident. Immediately following an accident, you should take as many pictures as possible of anything that contributed to your accident. If there were witnesses, you should obtain their names and contact information. Keep the clothes and shoes you were wearing and do not wash them or throw them away. Documentation will serve as valuable evidence for your claim.
- Limit your communication. Other than filling out an incident report, you should not communicate further with the property owner or their insurance company. These parties may take your words out of context, twist them, and use them against you to reduce the amount of compensation you receive. The insurance company may also offer you a settlement early on, but it will almost certainly not be enough to fully cover the costs of your injuries and losses.
- Call a lawyer. Even if you do not speak to them right after your accident, you will have to communicate with the insurance company, and perhaps the property owner, at some point during your claim. While you focus on your recovery, a lawyer will deal with them and negotiate to seek the fair settlement you deserve. Slip and fall claims are common, but they are also extremely complex and difficult to prove. A lawyer will know how to prove who was at fault and hold the insurance company accountable.
Throughout your recovery, you should also keep a journal of your injuries, how treatment is progressing, and how the injuries have impacted your life. These details may help establish the amount of compensation you deserve.
Talk to a Southfield Slip and Fall Attorney Now
At Christensen Law, our Southfield slip and fall lawyers know how to overcome the challenges of pursuing compensation after an accident. We are ready to accurately evaluate your claim and aggressively negotiate with the insurance companies to pursue the fair settlement you need.
When you have been hurt by the negligence of another person, call us or contact us online to schedule a free consultation and to learn more about how we can help with your case.