Slip and fall accidents may not seem very serious, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. In 2020, more than 42,000 people died in fall accidents, and 211,640 were so injured that they needed to take time off work to recover.
Fall injuries are especially serious for the elderly. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), one out of every four elderly people falls each year, and three million seniors visit the emergency room for fall-related injuries annually.
Do you need a slip-and-fall attorney for your accident? Legally, you’re allowed to represent yourself in a personal injury case. But unlike a car accident, where it’s fairly easy to prove fault, proving liability in a slip-and-fall case isn’t so clear-cut.
If you’d like to increase your chances of a higher settlement, learn how you can benefit from hiring a slip-and-fall lawyer in NYC.
Investigating the Accident Scene
Slip and fall accidents can happen in grocery stores, on New York City sidewalks, and almost anywhere else. You know you fell and got hurt, but you may not be exactly sure how the fall happened.
The property owner’s insurance company will investigate the accident scene, but they’re definitely not on your side. A slip-and-fall attorney, though, investigates the scene on your behalf.
Your attorney will look for things like damaged stairs and handrails, building code violations, spills, hazardous conditions, and more. They’ll document their findings to help you and the court understand how your accident really happened. If the property owner failed to clean a spill or install proper handrails, for instance, you’d have better odds of a successful personal injury claim.
Establishing Who Was at Fault for Your Accident
Sometimes, it’s easy to know who was liable for your accident. For example, if you slipped and fell because a grocery store didn’t put up a “Wet Floor” sign, the store owner is clearly to blame. But who’s at fault if you fell on the sidewalk, in a city park, or another public location?
You may also not know who’s at fault if you were hurt on the job. You might think that your employer owed you a duty of care because it’s their responsibility to provide you with safe working conditions.
That’s true, but what if a third party was responsible for the accident? For instance, maybe a contractor provided you with faulty equipment, or a property owner left hazards lying around.
Establishing fault is especially important if you slipped and fell at work. Generally, when you’re injured on the job, filing a workers’ compensation claim is your only recourse. Workers’ comp pays for medical bills and some of your lost wages if you can’t work. However, it doesn’t cover pain and suffering. If you were hurt because someone was careless or negligent, you might decide to file a claim against them.
If you aren’t sure who is at fault for your injuries, a slip-and-fall lawyer in New York can help.
Tallying Up Damages and Losses
You may think that showing your medical bills to the insurance company is all it takes to prove damages, but it’s rarely that simple. If you don’t accurately document and show all losses, the at-fault party’s insurance company will try to give you a lower settlement.
An insurance adjuster might try to convince you that your case is only worth a pittance, but the real value could be significantly higher. You’ll also need to prove all damages if you intend to take the case to court.
It’s tough to assign financial value to some losses because they don’t come with receipts like medical bills do. If you’re feeling anxious or depressed because you lost your job, for instance, exactly how much is that worth?
A slip-and-fall attorney will thoroughly review your case and assign a value to all damages so the insurance company will pay you a fair amount. Our firm will document damages such as:
- Past, current, and future medical bills
- Wages lost while you take time to recover
- Reduced earning capacity if your injury requires you to take a lower-paying job
- Mental anguish
- Pain and suffering
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Property damage
- Funeral expenses if a loved one passed away because of the accident
Proving Liability and Negligence
The insurance company will probably try to argue that your accident was your own fault. It might try to say things like:
- You ignored warning signs
- You were talking on the phone or otherwise distracted
- You tripped over your own belongings
- You were wearing inappropriate footwear
- You entered a restricted area not open to the public
Insurance companies don’t want to pay you a penny more than they have to, but if you can prove that the negligent party failed to provide reasonable care, the damages you’re awarded will likely be higher.
In some cases, you might be partially at fault for the accident. For example, maybe you got hurt because you were distracted by your phone; however, you wouldn’t have fallen if the property owner bothered to put up a warning sign. New York is a pure comparative fault state, which means you can recover damages even if you were primarily at fault for your accident.
How does pure comparative fault work? Let’s assume that you were 80% at fault for your accident. In this case, you’d recover 20% of your total damages award.
This differs from states that follow modified comparative fault rules. In such states, you can only recover damages if you were 50% or less at fault.
Submitting Paperwork on Your Behalf
Slip and fall cases involve a ton of paperwork. If you make a filing mistake or miss any deadlines, the court may dismiss your case, which means it won’t award you any damages.
New York gives you three years from the date of the accident to file a personal injury claim. Sometimes, you might decide not to file a claim after an accident because you think your injuries weren’t that serious.
But what happens if your injuries worsen over time? If that three-year deadline is drawing near, you may not have enough time to handle all the paperwork yourself. Your case may also take longer than you expect it to. Sometimes, your case might drag on for months or even longer.
That’s why it’s smart to contact a slip-and-fall attorney as soon as you can after your accident. Your attorney will ensure to file all paperwork correctly and on time.
Handling Communication with the Insurance Company and Other Parties
The insurance company will likely try to contact you following your accident. An insurance adjuster may ask for your side of the story, but remember that this person isn’t your friend. They will use anything you say as a reason to reduce your payout or even deny your claim entirely.
When talking to the insurance adjuster, never:
- Tell the adjuster that you weren’t hurt or your injuries weren’t really that bad. You may think you’re not hurt badly right now, but some injuries can take days or weeks to develop.
- Apologize for the incident or tell the adjuster you were to blame, even if you think you were.
- Make guesses about accident details or how much your injuries are worth. The words “I think” may seem innocent enough, but the adjuster can use them to claim that you’re not really sure what happened or you’re more at fault for the incident than you really are.
- Sign any documents or give a recorded statement. The insurance company may use this as evidence against you.
In short, dealing with the insurance company on your own is dangerous. It’s easy to say the wrong thing and have your words used against you, especially if the person on the phone seems nice.
A slip-and-fall attorney will handle all communications with the insurance company for you. An attorney knows exactly what to say and which language to avoid to give you a better chance of winning a higher settlement.
Representing You in Court
You may be curious how your slip-and-fall accident case will play out.
The insurance company will likely offer you the smallest possible settlement that it thinks you will accept. An insurer usually knows your case is worth more, but the company hopes you’ll take the bare minimum. If you’re representing yourself, it can be tempting to accept the settlement because you think some amount of money is better than nothing.
However, accepting the initial settlement is rarely the right choice. Once you do, you’ve likely locked yourself out of suing for more money unless the settlement was fraudulent.
If you have a slip-and-fall attorney on your side, your case can go quite differently. Your attorney will inform the insurance company that your case is worth more than the settlement they’ve offered. At this point, the insurer may offer a larger settlement in hopes of avoiding a lengthy and expensive lawsuit.
If the settlement is still too low, your attorney will go to bat for you in court. A slip-and-fall attorney will gather evidence, present witness testimony, and fight aggressively to present your case before the judge.
Contact a Slip and Fall Attorney in New York if You’ve Been Hurt in an Accident
A slip-and-fall accident doesn’t just leave you with a stack of pricey medical bills. If your injury is bad enough, you may need to take weeks or longer off from your job to recover. Sometimes, you might be so disabled that you’ll never be able to work again, which can cause serious financial woes for you and your family.
If you’ve been injured in a sidewalk accident in New York City or any other type of slip-and-fall accident, call our team of experienced attorneys at Ross & Hill Personal Injury Lawyers right away. We’ll investigate your case, identify the liable party, and work hard to prove who was responsible for your injuries in court. We operate on a contingency basis, so you pay nothing unless we win a settlement for you.
Contact us at (718) 855-2324 to learn about your legal options with a free consultation today.
Slip and Fall Accident Frequently Asked Questions
Are you looking for more information about slip and fall accidents? We’ve put together answers to several commonly asked questions about slip and fall accidents in New York here.
What Are Some Common Causes of Slips, Trips, and Falls?
A few common causes of slips, trips, and falls include tripping on rugs, falling from ladders, and slipping on ice, water or spilled liquid. Fall accidents commonly happen when someone fails to notify people of a dangerous condition, such as a wet floor.
What Is the Highest Settlement for a Slip and Fall Accident?
The highest-ever settlement for a slip-and-fall accident was $20 million. The plaintiff was an elderly woman who suffered serious injuries when she slipped on wet tile in a hotel lobby. In this case, a jury decided that the hotel failed to notify guests of the hazard and that it was responsible for the woman’s injuries.
How Much Compensation Is a Slip and Fall Accident Worth?
The average slip-and-fall accident settlement ranges from $10,000 to $50,000, but you may be able to seek more damages with an experienced slip-and-fall attorney working on your case. This money can cover your lost wages, medical bills, emotional distress, and other accident-related damages. Your attorney will review your case and provide greater specifics on what type and how much compensation you can fight for.
How Much Do Slip, Trip, and Fall Accidents Cost?
The average slip, trip, and fall accident costs victims approximately $20,000 nationally. This value can include the cost of emergency treatment, physical therapy, medication, surgery, and more.
Slip and fall accident victims may also need to pay someone to care for them at home if they’re too injured to take care of themselves. If you’re facing expensive medical bills due to your accident, call a slip-and-fall attorney to learn if you may be able to seek compensation.