If you have been harmed on someone else’s property then you should seek immediate medical attention. Failing to do so may reduce your chances of receiving compensation. The longer you wait before going to the doctor then the more you open yourself up to arguments claiming that you were not seriously injured in the accident. It goes without saying that someone who believes that they have been harmed would likely go to the doctor right away. Also, if you did suffer serious injuries then waiting to seek care will open you up to arguments that the injury somehow occurred in an event which happened between your fall and the time at which you entered the hospital. You foreclose the possibility of such arguments by immediately going to the hospital. Once you have been to the hospital then it is important to immediately retain a Fort Worth slip and fall attorney.
Counsel will immediately notify the defendant, along with their insurer, that you are represented. This will allow them to deal with your counsel directly so that you may deal with the most important thing – getting healthy. Your attorney will also take immediate steps to ensure that your interests are protected. These steps may include visiting the scene of the incident, demanding that security footage be preserved, demanding that any other relevant records be preserved, and identifying possible witnesses. By making sure that relevant evidence will remain available your representative you increase the possibility that you will be able to prove negligence at the time of trial.
As you progress through your treatment it is important that you stay in contact with your Fort Worth slip and fall attorney. Counsel will need to be aware of the status of your condition so that they may track your medical expenses and keep the insurers apprised of the situation. The more your representative is up to date as to your condition then the sooner they may be able to get the case settled after your long-term prognosis can be reasonably determined.
It is not uncommon for the property owner’s insurance company to contact the injured person soon after the event to get a statement. Because the adjuster represents the owner, you should be cautious when speaking to them. Once your attorney is engaged, he or she will notify the defendant and their counsel that you have obtained legal representation. From that point forward, the attorney will work one-on-one with the insurance adjuster to attempt to obtain a settlement of your case.
The attorney will collect evidence to share with the insurance company to demonstrate the property owner’s liability and support the victim’s damages claims. Counsel will quickly conduct an investigation of the incident. Doing so as soon as possible after the event may be extremely helpful. For example, there may be security camera footage of the accident. In many cases, property owners only retain security footage for a certain period of time. If a request is made too late, this valuable evidence may be lost. Interviews of witnesses should also be conducted soon after the injury to ensure the statements are as accurate as possible.
It is not unusual for the insurance company to refuse to settle a slip-and-fall case. Adjusters can insist on litigating the claims in court. Disputes over whether an owner is responsible or whether the injuries were pre-existing, for example, are hotly contested. Having counsel with experience in personal injury matters will be essential to navigating the settlement and litigation process.
The property owner will only be liable if it is shown that they did not take reasonable steps to ensure that the premises would be safe. The first step in determining whether a hazardous condition existed is to send an investigator to the scene and to interview any potential witnesses. Such witnesses can state whether they observed a wet floor or some other dangerous condition. It may also be possible to interview those who were charged with keeping the property safe and then determining whether those people thought there was a risk. When selecting a Fort Worth slip and fall attorney to handle your case make sure you hire someone who will actually visit the scene.
The next step in proving a property liability is to ensure that necessary evidence is preserved. This evidence may include maintenance records, surveillance footage, and other such information. Counsel will be able to use the discovery process to obtain these records. Say, for example, that you fell in a store which had a wet floor. Now say that the store has a policy of having someone check for spills every hour and recording that they have done so. If you obtain logs which show that the inspections had not been conducted then the store’s failure to follow its own policies would likely constitute a failure to keep the property safe. This, in turn, would typically prove that the owner or operator was negligent.
An additional component to proving premises liability involves the use of expert witnesses. Again, a property operator must take “reasonable” steps to ensure that the area is safe. The reasonableness of an operator’s actions will be judged against what owners of a similar type of premises would have done. If, for example, an expert testifies that retail store aisles are checked for spills every hour and the defendant in your case only checked his or her aisles every two hours then there would be a strong argument that they were not going far enough in their effort to keep the property safe. Each case will always be situation specific.
As long as the victim is no more than fifty percent to blame, they may still receive compensation for their damages. The total potential damages are reduced by the victim’s portion of the fault. If the victim is found more than halfway responsible, they may not recover. As one can imagine, this issue is often highly contested. A jury’s determination of comparative fault will depend on the specific facts of the situation.
Suppose for example, a woman is shopping at the grocery store when she trips over pallet in the middle of the aisle. At the time of the accident, the woman was reading a recipe on her phone. Security footage in the store captures her looking down at the screen at the same time she falls over the pallet. She suffers a broken leg and damages are ascertained to be $100,000. The store owner argues that had she been watching where she was walking, she would never have fallen and therefore was partially responsible. In this scenario, a jury may find both parties shared some responsibility for the incident. If they find that the shopper was thirty percent responsible, then she would still recover $70,000 in damages ($100,000 reduced by 30%).
A party injured in a slip and fall incident may incur multiple forms of damages. Medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and punitive damages may be available to the plaintiff depending upon the facts of the specific case. Calculations of each type will likely involve several expert witnesses, including economists, vocational specialists, medical experts or those with specific industry expertise.
A victim whose injuries has resulted in missed work may seek lost wages. Depending upon the extent of the impact, the injured party might also lose future potential earnings. Income already lost may determined fairly easily, however, ascertaining how much income may be lost in the future as a result of the accident is more complicated. The amount is calculated by determining how much money the injured party would have earned if the accident had not occurred and subtracting the likely earnings expected after the injury. For obvious reasons, the use of occupational, financial, and medical experts will be essential for this purpose.
Similar to damages for lost wages, an injured party may be able to recover past and future medical expenses related to the crash. Current bills can be fairly easily quantified, however, depending upon the seriousness of the injuries suffered and the prognosis for recovery, a victim may be anticipating expenses for significant future medical care. For example, if a victim experienced a serious brain injury, experts in the medical field can help identify the need for additional surgeries and the related future costs for therapy or long-term care facilities as needed. It is important to note that a plaintiff may be asked to obtain an independent medical examination (IME) to verify the damage claims.
An injured party may also incur pain and suffering caused by the incident. Pain and suffering includes physical pain, emotional issued, reduced quality of life, or inconvenience. The plaintiff must demonstrate how these problems have negatively impacted his life, such as activities in which he is unable to participate or ongoing physical distress.
Finally, in certain slip and fall cases, a victim may be entitled to receive punitive damages. Punitive damages are designed to “punish” a defendant for specific actions. In order to recover this type of damages, the plaintiff must be able to prove that the property owner acted recklessly, wantonly, or intentionally in their failure to protect the injured party from harm. Suppose, for example, a shop owner consciously decides to cut all janitorial staff to save on payroll. The shop owner knows that the failure to mop the floors during each of the three shifts will result in dangerous conditions for his customers and employees alike. It is possible that a court will view the owner’s cost-benefit analysis placing savings over safety, as reckless, therefore justifying an award of punitive damages.
It is important to understand that damage calculations will differ on a case-by-case basis.
If you have suffered a serious injury during a slip and fall then it is important that you retain a firm with extensive experience in handling such matters. Counsel should have the financial backing necessary to go up against large insurance companies and on on-staff investigator so that no stone goes unturned in handling your matter. These qualities should be considered important regardless of whether you were injured in counties including Tarrant, Dallas, Johnson, and Wise as well as cities including Fort Worth, Hurst, Euless, Bedford, Haltom City, Richland Hills, North Richland Hills, Watauga, Grapevine, Colleyville, Southlake, Arlington, Keller, Grand Prairie, and Dallas.