When most people think of personal injury cases, they usually focus on car accidents, medical malpractice lawsuits, or product liability cases. However, one of the leading causes of personal injury cases is slip and fall accidents.
Each year, Indiana hospitals receive over 8 million emergency room visits caused by slip and fall incidents. This accounts for more than 21% of all casualty cases in the state. As such, more personal injury cases are based on slip and fall claims than most people realize.
In Indiana, victims who suffer slip and fall accident-related injuries while on someone else's property have the right to sue the property owner for damages to cover medical expenses, lost wages, etc. Even if the injuries seem minor, victims can speak to an Indianapolis slip and fall attorney to discuss the merits of their case.
One of the most highly-rated law firms when it comes to handling Indiana slip-and-fall cases is Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys. Victims can call its Indianapolis law offices at +1 463-203-1198 to schedule a free consultation. They can also share the statute of limitations for slip and fall in Indiana.
A Trip and Fall Vs. Slip and Fall Incident
Before answering the question "How can slips, trips, and falls lead to litigation?" it is important to look deeper at the meaning of a slip and fall case. Based on legal definitions, a trip and fall is different from a slip and fall case.
Tripping usually refers to falling forward as a result of slipping, tripping on something left on the ground, or not stepping over a solid object.
Slipping, on the other hand, usually means falling backward because of slipping or falling due to shifting ground.
It may seem that such distinctions are unimportant, but when trying to determine who the at-fault party is, defining the accident perfectly is a necessary part of the legal process of identifying the liable parties.
Also, while tripping can allow victims to use their hands to break the fall, slipping often results in victims landing on their tailbone or they can hit the back of their heads. As such, the types of injuries that can be caused in either case are different.
Causes of Slip and Fall Accidents
The first step in a personal injury slip and fall lawsuit is often determining what caused the incident to occur. This will allow the attorney to understand how the accident happened, and who may be the liable party. They can also help with suing homeowners insurance for a slip and fall injury. Most slip and fall accidents are caused by the following:
Not paying attention while walking
Objects left on the ground
Loose or bulging carpets
Loose mats or rugs
Spillages of food or liquids
Exposed wiring or other tripping hazards
Uneven flooring or sidewalks
Potholes or cracks
Negligence by caregivers
Common Slip and Fall Injuries
With such a wide variety of causes to consider, it is no wonder that both minor and serious injuries are common in slips, trips, and falls. The following are the most common types of slip and fall injuries that victims may suffer:
Head injuries, such as concussions
Traumatic brain injuries
Neck and back injuries
Ankle and wrist sprains
Soft tissue injuries
If the injured victim happens to be an elderly person, there is also a big possibility that a slip and fall injury can result in a fatality. Such a personal injury case will become a wrongful death lawsuit. This is common when dealing with nursing home abuse cases.
Legal Theory Behind Slip and Fall Accidents
To prove negligence and recover compensation in slip and fall personal injury claims, the attorney often has to rely on the following legal theory:
A slip-and-fall lawyer has to show that the person at fault for the accident had a duty of care to the injured party. An example is how a property owner will be expected to tell guests or tenants about loose floorboards that pose a risk of slipping and falling.
The property owner must be shown to have breached that duty of care by not telling the victims about the presence of a hazardous condition. This can involve not putting up signs to alert people that the area has loose floorboards that can result in a slip-and-fall accident.
Next, the attorney must show that the hazardous conditions are the direct cause of the slip and fall case. This is because simply falling in the vicinity of a loose floorboard does not mean it is this particular hazardous condition that led to the fall.
Finally, the person injured in the slip and fall incident must have suffered damages resulting from their fall, such as medical expenses or lost wages.
How Trip/Slip and Fall Lawsuits Work
Slip and fall cases generally follow the same pattern in terms of determining liability by proving duty, breach, causation, and damages.
However, each slip and fall case will be dealt with according to where and how it occurred. The following are some important considerations:
Premises Liability Lawsuit
If a slip and fall incident occurs on someone else's property, the victims can file a premises liability lawsuit against the property owner. This means the responsibility for the injuries suffered will be placed on the owner even if they were not present when the victim fell.
When such incidents occur on government property, federal laws require a notice period of 30 days to successfully file a premises liability lawsuit against the government. An experienced attorney can help handle such a case.
Slip and Fall Accident at Work - Workers' Compensation Claims
Workers' compensation benefits can be used to cover damages caused by a slip and fall injury that occurs at work or while an employee is conducting work-related duties.
Most states require every employer to provide workers' compensation, so all an injured worker needs to do is file the required paperwork so that they get their benefits. In cases where the workers' compensation insurance company is refusing to pay, a personal injury lawyer can help the victim file a slip and fall lawsuit.
Possible Damages in Slip and Fall Accidents
A slip and fall claim can result in the injured victims being awarded a wide range of benefits, such as:
Medical treatment expenses
Pain and suffering
Rehabilitation and physical therapy expenses
Cost of ongoing care
Loss of consortium
Reduced enjoyment of life
Modified Comparative Negligence Laws in Indiana
In Indiana, compensation for personal injury cases is determined according to the state's modified comparative negligence laws. This means the victim who suffered the slip and fall injury will be held liable for their contributory negligence in causing the accident.
If the incident was caused by a loose floorboard, for example, the property owner may claim that the victim was expected to notice and avoid the hazardous area. The jury will have to decide how much fault to place on the property owner and how much on the victim.
Whatever percentage fault is placed on the victim's own negligence will be deducted from the overall compensation they are awarded by the courts. If this contributory negligence is more than 50%, the victim will walk away with nothing, no matter how serious their injuries are.
What to Do After a Slip and Fall Accident
A slip-and-fall lawsuit can be a long and complicated legal process, especially when dealing with property owners or insurance companies that are refusing liability and are determined not to pay.
In such cases, it makes the job of the personal injury attorney a lot easier if the victims take the right steps from the moment the slip and fall accident happens to the time the case is finalized. This is why victims need to follow these steps:
Seek medical treatment
Obtain medical records detailing the plaintiff's injuries
Collect all receipts for medical bills
Gather evidence, such as photos of the accident scene
Speak to witnesses of the accident
Inform the property owner or the insurance company
Avoid admitting guilt or giving a statement
Hire an experienced slip-and-fall accident attorney
While victims are advised to cooperate with the insurance company or worker's compensation providers during their investigation, they need to be careful not to say anything that may be used against them in the subsequent lawsuit.
The best protection for victims when dealing with insurance companies is to have a good lawyer by their side.
Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys Is Ready to Take the Case
Victims who have suffered injuries after slipping, tripping, or falling because of a dangerous condition caused by someone else's negligence, such as leaving a wet floor without adequate warning signs, can sue the at-fault party for damages.
However, in many cases, the other party will try to point out the victim's own carelessness in a bid to avoid compensating them for their injuries. In such cases, victims will need a strong, dedicated, experienced, and compassionate attorney to fight for their rights.
Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys will go to war to make sure victims get the fair compensation that they deserve.