Unfortunately, slip and fall accidents are a common occurrence. They can happen at home, at work, in a public place, or on someone else’s property. Sometimes, people recover without suffering any injury. Other times, though, a nasty slip and fall injury is the result.
What’s worse, slip and fall injuries can be painful and enduring. They can keep you away from work, cut into your family time, or lead to discomfort and inconvenience. It could make you want to pound your fists in frustration—if only you had the strength!
If you believe another party is at fault, please reach out to your slip and fall injury lawyers in Waterford, CT, so we can help.
Common Causes of Slip and Fall Accidents
When someone slips, they often will reach out instinctively to break the fall or make an awkward move, trying to regain their balance. It’s why slip and fall accidents lead to injuries like broken arms or wrists, shoulder injuries, fractured hips, or sprained or broken ankles.
Other slip and fall injuries come from the blunt trauma of landing on a hard surface. These include head and spinal cord injuries, severe bruising or abrasions, and, again, broken bones. We should point out that many of these “hard landing’ injuries aren’t always apparent at the time of the fall. For example, brain trauma can take days or weeks to manifest.
How Does a Slip and Fall Injury Happen?
There are a variety of ways that a slip and fall may occur. In Norwich, a common slip and fall accident occurs due wet or slippery floors. It is the owner’s duty to keep the premises safe, and slippery conditions due to extreme weather is a common thing in this part of the country. This means that the owner must address these conditions on a regular basis. If he does not, he may be held liable for any slip and fall injuries.
Of course, other conditions can create a slip and fall injury. Hazards in homes, businesses, and outdoor walkways include:
- Stairways that are broken or in disrepair
- Poorly-lit parking lots with blind spots
- Unmarked wet spots or changes in the sidewalk without signage
- Unswept or unkempt walkways full of garbage, debris or snow
- Slick carpets or walkways with loose carpet samples
If you or a loved one recognizes one or more of these conditions related to a slip and fall, don’t hesitate to pick up the phone and call Polito & Harrington for a free consultation.
Who Is Responsible in a Slip and Fall?
The owner of a property or business may be held legally responsible for extensive injuries from slip and falls due to a concept called premises liability. Premises liability is a type of negligence. Negligence is a legal standard that holds responsible parties to a certain duty of care because without doing so, substantial harm could happen to many people.
Simply put, negligence is when someone—in this case, the owner—had a duty to do something—in this case, keep the premises safe—and did not do so, resulting in damages. Seems simple enough, however, laws and parties vary from state to state. In Norwich, it’s important to find an attorney who knows the local laws and trends like the legal team at Polito & Harrington.
When Is Another Party At Fault?
When someone slips and falls, they are often embarrassed and just want to move on. However, if it happened because of someone else’s negligence, call a slip and fall injury lawyer. Property owners have a duty to maintain their property and keep it clear of slip and fall hazards. A slip and fall attorney can review a case to determine whether another party may have been responsible for your fall having occurred.
If someone’s irresponsible action — or inaction — causes a fall injury, they need to make things right. After all, they’re not the ones suffering. You are. Slip and fall injury attorneys know this, and we’re eager to help you make things right again.
Proving Fault in a Slip and Fall Case
The criteria for determining liability in slip and fall accidents varies from one state to another. This includes the two states we serve: Connecticut and Rhode Island.
The differences add a layer of complexity to an already complicated situation. So it’s wise to hire a slip and fall injury attorney who is licensed and practices in the state where the accident occurred. If your fall happened at either of Connecticut’s two casinos, Mohegan Sun or Foxwoods, you need to hire a casino/tribal lawyer.
When determining fault, most courts use the following criteria (or versions of them).
Determining the Fact and Degree of Liability
One important question to ask here is whether the slip and fall accident could have been avoided if the property owner had taken better care and used more effective prevention measures. The answer might be “no.” For example, a property owner probably wouldn’t be responsible if someone absentmindedly walked into a decorative potted plant on their porch.
Having a potted plant on the porch, provided it’s not obstructing an obvious pathway, is hardly the same as leaving a garden hose lying across a sidewalk. The latter most likely would be considered negligence, and someone who tripped over it might have a valid case, depending on the specific circumstances.
A Judgment Call: What Is “Reasonable”?
In other words, no reasonable adult would leave a tripping hazard like a hose blocking a walkway. Not only is it common sense, but it also fulfills that individual’s “duty of care” to maintain reasonably safe conditions.
But “reasonable” is a subjective term. A plaintiff who tripped over the hose might claim the defendant acted unreasonably by leaving it there. But the defendant could counter that it was only there while she or he was using it to water a flower bed.
Why you should contact an attorney soon after a slip and fall event?
Conditions at the time of a fall can quickly change. Documenting a defect, spill or presence of ice or snow or other hazard by photograph or video or inspection soon after a fall can be very helpful to prove the presence of a hazardous condition. An at fault party will often move to fix a defect to make it appear that it did not exist, so documentation can be critical.
The slip and fall lawyers at Polito & Harrington will work quickly to document dangerous conditions.
After I Slip and Fall, What Do I Do?
First, see your treating and trusted physician or go to the emergency room. Make sure that the physician has a history with you and a good rapport whenever possible.
He or she will be honest with you about the extent of injuries that you may or may not have. Even if your injuries do not seem extensive, it’s always good to call an experienced attorney because there may be something there beyond the immediately obvious injuries.
Second, if an insurance company gets involved, seek an attorney immediately. Generally, an insurance company may come calling, especially if the owner is a business.
An insurance company will represent the premises owner and will likely try to settle the matter immediately. Its duty is to minimize its damages as quickly and for as little as possible while admitting no liability. This means that any initial offer is going to be the lowest that it’s willing to pay (or likely lower!).
An insurance company will also open an investigation immediately. This means that it is already sniffing for reasons not to pay you. It’s unfair, because insurers are well-versed in slip and fall claims, whereas the injured is often at a disadvantage. That’s why if an insurance company contacts you about a premises liability slip and fall, seek an experienced attorney immediately.
Mind Your Property and Watch Your Step
Proving fault in a slip and fall lawsuit can be challenging for the parties involved and the court system. Inevitably, there will be mitigating factors in people’s claims—even signs of misremembering how a slip and fall accident even happened. That’s why having a slip and fall injury attorney can be the difference between winning and losing your case.
As the old saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Plaintiffs and defendants should make it a personal goal always to use greater care and attentiveness. Doing so can save the plaintiff their pain and suffering and the defendant a costly settlement. All concerned would save the time and cost a court case would take if needed to resolve the issue.
Of course, It doesn’t always go this way, though. There are a lot more slip and fall risks out there than you might think. That’s why you should remember our name, Polito & Harrington, your slip and fall injury lawyers in Waterford, CT.
How We Can Help
To schedule a free consultation at Polito & Harrington in Waterford, Connecticut to discuss slip and fall litigation, call 1.860.447.3300 or contact us online today.
We are proud of our long record of successful personal injury verdicts and settlements in CT & RI, achieved for the benefit of our clients.
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Polito & Harrington – Serving Connecticut, Rhode Island, Mashantucket Pequot Tribe and Mohegan Tribe