You?ve experienced a slip-and-fall accident in a retail store ? what now? You may be sore, embarrassed, and ready to push past the incident. After all, those who suffer slip-and-fall accidents have been the butt of many sitcom jokes and painted as scammers trying to take advantage of the legal system. Don?t let this stop you from taking action after a fall. Over nine million people visit the emergency room every year for slip-and-fall incidents, so you aren?t alone.
When the owner of a store fails to maintain their property or create safe walkways, you aren?t in the wrong ? they are. But before you can seek compensation, you have to find out if you have a solid case and if suing the retail store is an option.
Is the Store Liable?
For the store to be liable for your accident, they must have been negligent in some way. For example, if you are walking on a clearly lit walkway without any unavoidable obstacles and you trip because you are distracted by your phone, it?s unlikely that the store will be found liable. However, if you fall because store representatives failed to clear away snow and ice after a snowstorm, that would likely fall on their shoulders.
Other circumstances in which a store may be liable include:
- Liquid spills
- Debris blocking walkways
- Uneven flooring
- Slippery or torn floor mats
- Exposed cords
- Poorly lit areas
- Broken handrails
Proving That You Are Owed Damages
There are several elements in a slip-and-fall case or any other type of premises liability case. Each one of these four requirements must be met for you to recover any damages:
- The defendant (in this case, the store owner) must have had a duty of care to the victim to maintain the property;
- The defendant must have failed to keep the property safe and free from hazards;
- The breach of duty must be directly responsible for the victim?s injuries;
- The victim?s injuries must have led to measurable damages.
If these conditions are not met, it is unlikely that you have a case. For example, if you break into a store while it?s closed and injure yourself, the other side would likely argue that they did not have a duty of care to you because you did not have permission to be on the property. If you slip on something but do not sustain any injuries, you don?t have damages, so you cannot sue for what could have happened. These details need to be discussed with an experienced premises liability attorney to determine the strength of your case.
Damages in a Slip-and-Fall Case
As the victim in a slip-and-fall case, you may be able to pursue compensation from the store owner and their insurance company. Any injury can lead to serious financial issues for victims, particularly if they have substantial medical bills or have to take time off of work to recover. Damages you may be able to seek include:
- Medical bills
- Future medical care and rehabilitative care
- Property damage; for example, if your phone is broken during a fall
- Lost income for days away from work
- Future lost wages if your earning potential is permanently affected
You may also be able to ask for noneconomic damages, depending on the details of your case. Noneconomic damages include disfigurement, pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life.
Planning Your Next Steps
Immediately after a slip-and-fall accident, you may be focused only on healing and resting. However, if you don?t think ahead and gather evidence, you could lose valuable evidence for your personal injury case. Take the following steps to protect yourself and your rights after a fall:
- Take photos of the scene, ensuring that you get multiple photos of any wet areas, loose cords, or other hazards;
- Get contact information from nearby witnesses;
- Report the accident to the manager on duty and fill out an accident report (read everything carefully before signing to ensure that you are not signing away your right to pursue medical care or file a lawsuit);
- Contact an attorney as soon as possible to explore your legal options.
Reach Out to Ross Moore II, P.C. Today
When you choose Ross Moore II, P.C., you can feel confident that you have an attorney on your side who is dedicated to the success of your case. While you concentrate on recovering, we will handle the insurance and legal aspects of your slip-and-fall claim. Find out how we can help you by messaging us online or calling us at (404) 491-8511.