Slip & Fall Injury Lawyers in Austin
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Slip and fall accidents can be painful, both physically and emotionally. These incidents often leave victims hurting, confused, and embarrassed. Unfortunately, these accidents occur across the nation daily. These incidents can occur almost anywhere, including at a friend's house, at work, or the nearby grocery store. Despite the frequency with which these accidents occur, many people are uncertain of what their rights are following a slip, trip or fall.
If you have been injured in an accident in a public place, grocery store, at work, at a gas station or other public location, you may be entitled to seek compensation if the accident was not your fault.
Call our slip and fall lawyers on (888) 314 6671 for a FREE consultation to find out more about how to proceed with a claim.
What are My Rights After a Slip and Fall Accident?
In short, the victim of a slip and fall accident has the right to pursue compensation for the injuries resulting from an accident. This entails the right to file an incident report to create an official record of the accident and the resulting injuries. When making this report, the victim does not and should not need to accept any blame for the accident. The victim also has the right to request medical attention. The method of compensation will depend on whether the accident occurred at work or elsewhere. If the accident was work-related, workers’ compensation may cover the appropriate costs. If the accident occurred at a home or store, legal action may be pursued.
In order to hold somebody responsible for your injuries sustained after a slip and fall accident, an you must show either that the property owner, or an employee, failed to recognize and address a hazardous condition (e.g., slippery floor, pothole, etc.), or that the property owner or an employee directly caused the hazardous condition which led to the accident.
What is Premises Liability?
The law states that every landowner owes a basic duty of reasonable care to individuals who come onto his or her premises. This duty applies to anyone who owns property, both commercial and residential. Premises liability is a legal theory of fault which holds a landowner responsible for injuries that occur to another person while the person is on the landowner’s property. Under the theory of premises liability, a landowner’s negligence may entitle the injured party to compensation for the injured party’s medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
The exact duty of care owed by a landowner to another person depends on the type of relationship between the landowner and the person. In general, individuals who come onto a landowner’s property can be separated into three broad categories:
- invitees; and
The duty of care owed by a landowner to a person depends on whether the person is a licensee, invitee, or trespasser.
A licensee is a person to whom a license is granted by the landowner. In general, a licensee is on the property for his or her own amusement. This person is licensed to remain on the property only with the landowner’s consent. Typical examples include guests at a party or a family friend visiting a relative. In these cases, the landowner has a duty to warn the licensee of any dangers on the property known to the owner but not to the licensee.
An invitee is an individual who has been offered an express or implicit invitation onto the property, either for a mutual benefit or for something that is being conducted on the property. A typical example is a customer of a store or business. A landowner owes the utmost duty of care to an invitee. This means that the property owner must take the extra step of inspecting the premises and making sure it is safe.
A trespasser enters onto another person’s property without the landowner’s permission. Although a landowner is still under a duty to not cause harm to the trespasser, the landowner does not have a duty to keep his land in reasonable condition for the trespasser or let the trespasser know of dangerous areas.
Do I Have A Case?
The factors contributing to your accident will determine whether you have a case or not. Generally, an accident can occur anywhere at any time. For instance, you may be walking through an aisle at the local H-E-B or Wal-Mart and slip on a puddle of water. Alternatively, you may be at a friend's house and injure yourself after slipping on a child's toy. It is, therefore, imperative to always remain alert and aware of your surroundings.
Examples of slip and fall cases have included include:
Tripping on Debris on the Floor
Loose wrappers, napkins, or other forms of debris are a common culprit of slip or trip accidents. These accidents commonly occur at restaurants, gas stations, and grocery stores.
Slipping on Wet or Slippery Floors
One of the most classic slip and fall scenarios is the wet floor. Although businesses are supposed to place warning signs on wet floors, many businesses neglect to do so. These types of accidents are most commonly seen at grocery stores, schools, restaurants, and homes.
Falling due to Uneven Surfaces
Rocky, bumpy, or otherwise uneven surfaces are a prime cause of fall accidents. It is easy to take a misstep and fall when you are not expecting a hole or uneven surface. These types of accidents are most common at workplaces, such as construction zones and store parking lots.
Dangerous or Hazardous Conditions
Workplaces can be a hotspot for slip, trips, and falls accidents. A recent study conducted by the CDC over the course of one year estimated that over 260,000 employees missed time from work in 2017 due to a slip and fall injury. Although these accidents can occur in any workplace, they are most common in settings like construction zones.
What To Do After a Slip and Fall Accident
Because these accidents can occur anywhere at any given time, it is important to understand how to react and what to do if you end up in this unfortunate situation. Following these important steps can help build a strong legal case that may help you recover fair and just compensation for your injuries.
1.) Seek Medical Treatment
In these situations, your health should be the number one priority. Many accidents result in lingering back, neck, arm, and leg pain that can persist for months or even years after the accident. Many victims make the mistake of neglecting to seek treatment because they feel fine at the time of their slip and fall. However, it is very common for pain to set in hours or days after the accident. Seeking prompt and proper medical treatment thus gives you the best chance to recover as quickly and efficiently as possible.
2.) Report the Accident to a Manager or Supervisor
The next critical step is to report your accident and injuries to an on-duty manager or supervisor of the store or building. If the fall occurred at a house or apartment, you should notify the landlord or homeowner. If possible, you should request that the report be taken in writing. When giving the details of the accident to the manager, landlord, or supervisor, be sure to provide the person with as many details regarding the accident as possible, including the nature and extent of your injuries. Creating a written and official record of the accident may be helpful when it comes to seeking compensation for your injuries and damages.
3.) Document the Evidence
Documenting all relevant and important evidence regarding your accident may be the most important yet overlooked step of this entire process. Documenting the evidence means keeping an organized personal file of every piece of important information relating to the accident. Such information includes photographs of your injuries, photographs of the area where the slip occurred, a copy of the accident report, and, most importantly, copies of all medical records relating to the accident. This evidence can help build the strength of your case, thereby increasing your chances when seeking just and fair compensation.
4.) Refrain From Giving Statements or Publicly Discussing the Accident
Be careful when speaking to store managers, employees, landlords, supervisors, and insurance companies. Anything you say may be used against you in court. Although it is important to be truthful about the accident, it is also important to refrain from accepting any blame or saying something that could hurt your case. Similarly, do not post images or accounts of your accident on social media. These statements may also be used against you to limit the value of your claim.
5.) Speak to an Attorney
Finally, you should consider discussing your case with a personal injury attorney. A personal injury attorney will listen to your version of the events and provide you with an opinion regarding your best course of action moving forward. An attorney can gather critical evidence by conducting investigations and speaking to witnesses. Lastly, an attorney can help you deal with insurance companies who may try to get you to settle a claim for less than what the claim is worth.
Although slip and fall accidents can happen in many ways, the injuries that result from such incidents typically follow a common pattern. Some of the more common slip-and-fall injuries include:
One of the most common injuries in a slip-and-fall accident is the dreaded back injury. The impact on landing can cause vertebrae to shift, thereby leading to dull, radiating pain throughout the entire back and spine. In extreme cases, vertebrae may crack or fracture, leading to temporary or permanent paralysis.
Many times, the victim of a slip-and-fall accident hits his or her head on the floor or pavement after landing. This whiplash effect can lead to head injuries such as concussions, skull fractures, or bruising. As in all cases, it is very important to seek medical attention after sustaining a head or neck injury.
According to the CDC, approximately 95% of hip fractures occur in slip-and-fall accidents. In general, the older you are, the more likely you are to sustain a hip fracture in a slip-and-fall accident. These types of debilitating injuries often require surgery and extensive rehabilitation.
Sprains and Fractures
This general class of injuries includes sprains, strains, and fractures to various body parts, including the knees, hands, wrists, feet, and ankles. Because a slip-and-fall accident can result in a forceful impact between the body and the ground, it is very common for bruising or sprains to occur in one or several of these areas.
How to File A Claim
Although not every accident leads to an injury, some of these incidents do result in some sort of temporary or lasting disability. If you wish to seek compensation for injuries and damages sustained, you may need to file a lawsuit against the person or entity whose actions or omissions caused your injuries. Listed below are important steps that comprise the process of filing a lawsuit after an accident.
1.) File a report
The first step towards filing a lawsuit following an accident is to file an incident report with the manager or supervisor of the premises where the incident occurred. As previously mentioned, filing a report will create an official record of the incident which can help build your case should litigation later ensue. When filling out the report, be sure to disclose as many details as possible, such as where the incident occurred, how it occurred, and what injuries resulted.
2.) Contact an Attorney
The next step in the process is to contact a personal injury attorney. A personal injury attorney can provide valuable legal advice and help you fight to receive fair compensation for your injuries. An attorney will also work on your behalf by communicating with insurance companies who may be very reluctant to pay the full value of the claim. An attorney will also be able to represent you if your claim ends up being litigated in court.
The investigation phase of a claim involves the attorney gathering facts and evidence which will establish that the property owner is legally liable for your injuries. Part of this process involves accounting for each of your damages, such as medical bills and lost wages. This step may also involve interviewing witnesses who may have seen the accident when it occurred.
4.) Settlement and Lawsuit
Finally, it may be necessary to litigate your case in a court of law. Before litigation, you may have the option of accepting a settlement from the at-fault party or the party's insurance company. If it is not in your best interest to accept the settlement offer, your case will go to court.
How Much Compensation Can I Seek?
In general, a party may be held liable for the injuries of another if the party’s acts or omissions caused the injuries. In slip-and-fall accidents, this means that if a lawsuit is brought against the property owner, the property owner or their insurance company faces the possibility of having to compensate the victim for the harm suffered, otherwise known as “damages.” The damages that may be awarded to a victim of a slip-and-fall accident can be separated into two general categories: Economic damages and Non-economic damages.
These are damages that can be calculated. The primary forms of economic damages involved in a slip-and-fall accident lawsuit are medical bills, lost income (present and future), and loss of earning capacity. Medical bills include costs incurred by the victim for hospital stays, doctors’ appointments, pharmacy costs, and physical therapy. Lost income includes the time the victim missed from work due to the injury. If the injury prevents or impairs the victim’s ability to work in the future, lost income may also include the victim’s loss in earning capacity.
These refer to intangible losses that are subjectively evaluated by the jury in a lawsuit. Although this class of damages may be harder to quantify than economic damages, non-economic damages are often more valuable than economic damages. Types of non-economic damages may include pain and suffering, emotional distress, disfigurement, disability, and loss of consortium.
These are a type of damage awarded not to compensate the victim, but to punish the wrongdoer. Punitive damages are rare but may be awarded in cases where the at-fault party’s conduct was found to be especially reckless, wanton, egregious, or intentional.
How Long Do I Have To Make A Claim?
A “statute of limitations” is essentially a legal time-limit on which a person must initiate a lawsuit. If an injured or wronged party fails to bring a claim within the relevant statute of limitations, that party is effectively barred from litigating the claim in court. Statutes of limitations vary from state to state.
In Austin, there is a two-year statute of limitations for personal injury claims. A claim following a slip-and-fall incident is considered a type of personal injury claim. This means that a party that is injured following a slip-and-fall accident must file a lawsuit within two years of the date of the accident.
In rare situations, this two-year statute of limitations may be "tolled" or paused. This has the effect of giving you more time to initiate a lawsuit. However, this is an exception rather than the norm. Discussing the facts and details of your case with an attorney can help you get a better understanding of the statute of limitations and can ensure that your claim is filed in a timely fashion.
Tell Zinda Law Group About Your Case
Emergency room visits, lost wages, and even death can be the result of a slip and fall accident. If you suffered an injury, you could easily feel overwhelmed. We can help you sort through the many aspects of your case. Was the property owner at fault for not cleaning up a spill? Was the area you slipped on in disrepair or in need of maintenance? The answers to these questions are important in your personal injury case.
You need the most experienced representation in your slip and fall case to ask the right questions. Zinda Law Group can provide you with compassionate representation for your case. Our Personal Injury Attorneys proudly serve clients in Austin and throughout Texas.
For a FREE consultation, call us today at (888) 314-6671 to speak with an attorney.
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