Slip and Fall Lawsuit Guide for 2022
December 23, 2022
Slip and fall accidents are among the most common causes of injuries in the United States, particularly among the elderly population. If you’ve been injured in a slip-and-fall accident, you should call a personal injury attorney immediately. In the meantime, this guide will provide you with valuable information about slip and fall cases.
While the Pendergrass Law Firm, LLC has provided this information, you should not construe this material as legal advice. For legal advice about your case, contact the Pendergrass Law Firm in the greater Atlanta area or an experienced personal injury attorney in your area.
Elements of a Slip and Fall Claim
The mere fact that you were in an accident does not necessarily mean that you can recover compensation. In order to have a viable slip-and-fall case, your attorney will have to show that these four conditions have been met.
1. Duty of Care
Property owners, employees, and leasees all have a duty of care to make their premises safe. This means they must keep pathways clear of obstructions, ensure that all areas where people travel are well-lit and that there are warning signs in appropriate places. This is known as a duty of care, and a property owner owes it to any person who legally enters their premises.
2. Breach of Duty
This means that the property owner or their designee failed to take the precautions that a reasonable person would to ensure the safety of an invitee. For example, did the property owner know of wet floors and failed to post warning signs about the hazardous condition? This could be considered a breach of duty.
In order for a slip and fall accident claim to be actionable, an accident must result from the property owner’s negligence. That means that they had a duty of care, breached that duty, and that’s why the accident occurred with resulting injuries.
In order for a slip-and-fall accident victim to recover compensation, they must prove that there were damages. Damages are the financial and non-financial costs accompanying nearly every accident: medical expenses, wages lost due to injury, pain and suffering, etc.
A number of factors affect how these elements may be seen by the court. An experienced slip-and-fall attorney can review your case to determine that all four elements exist during your initial free consultation. If the case is viable, the at-fault party can be held responsible.
Damages Available in a Slip and Fall Case
Your damages determine the amount that you can recover from your accident. Insurance company adjusters often downplay damages to protect their employers’ bottom lines. That’s why you need a lawyer with experience handling slip and fall claims and proving negligence to receive maximum compensation.
These are the material costs of an accident. For example, you are probably aware that you’re entitled to compensation for your medical bills (i.e., hospital bills, the cost of prescription medication, medical equipment, physical therapy, and other medical expenses) and your lost wages, but you may be entitled to more. All economic costs, including future medical expenses for more severe injuries, are covered under economic damages.
In addition to the monetary expenses that accompany slip and fall accidents, victims also experience physical pain, mental anguish, and other discomforts and trauma. In premises liability law, these intangible costs are called “pain and suffering.” In addition to your expenses, you’re also entitled to the inconvenience and pain you’ve experienced.
While rare in a slip-and-fall lawsuit, punitive damages are meant to punish the property owner or other responsible party for egregious behavior. For instance, if a property owner allowed an exposed live wire to dangle from the ceiling without calling an electrician to correct it, the court might rule that they would have to pay punitive damages. In GA, the cap on punitive damages is $250,000.
What You Can Do To Improve Your Slip-and-Fall Case
If you feel like you have a slip-and-fall case, one of the most important steps you can take is to involve a premises liability attorney as early in the process as possible. The average compensation for a slip-and-fall claim can increase dramatically when a lawyer is involved. Here are a few things that you should consider that may smooth your claims process and garner higher compensation.
It’s never too early to get an assessment of your injuries, and you may need medical attention immediately if you have an accident on someone else’s property with resulting injuries. If your case should turn into a slip-and-fall lawsuit, getting medical attention will not impede the legal process.
If the EMTs want to transport you to the emergency room, you should allow them to or seek medical attention on your own immediately. The hospital bills for your slip and fall injury will become part of your claim.
Report the Accident to Management or the Property Owner
One of the biggest mistakes plaintiffs make in slip and fall cases is failing to report their fall accidents to the party responsible for the dangerous condition. The management should prepare a slip-and-fall case report for their insurance company. Additionally, you should ask the manager to preserve any security video that might establish your presence on the property or show the conditions of the accident.
Take Videos and Pictures
The scene of your slip and fall injury will change rapidly as employees react to the situation and attempt to remedy the hazards. Use your camera to gather evidence of the wet floor, loose carpeting, obstruction, or other dangerous condition that led to your accident. This type of evidence is invaluable in slip-and-fall settlement negotiations.
Talk to Witnesses
Anyone who saw the accident can be a witness for your personal injury claim, including employees. Ask for their names and contact information. Witness testimony can be crucial for proving negligence, but witnesses often become more and more difficult to contact as time passes.
Decline any Settlement Offer Before Talking to an Attorney
It’s not unusual for an insurance adjuster or attorney to approach slip and fall injury victims within 24 hours of the accident — they sometimes even show up in hospital emergency rooms. They will offer to write you a check for your medical bills and a few days of lost wages. At the time, this fast money might seem like a good deal, but the average settlement offer from an insurance company tends to be far short of a fair settlement.
Once you’re represented by a slip and fall and fall lawyer, they can speak to doctors and the hospital about your mounting medical bills, which can be paid from the proceeds of your full and fair settlement.
Contact a lawyer in your area to seek compensation for your slip and fall case. In the Atlanta area, the Pendergrass Law Firm offers free case evaluations for slip and fall cases. Call today.
Legal Concepts in a Slip and Fall Accident Case
There are a few things that every accident victim should know about going in. Your attorney will go over these during your initial consultation. It’s important to know that these legal concepts change from state to state, so if you were injured outside of Georgia, search “lawyer near me” and find an attorney with extensive experience with slip and fall lawsuits.
Statute of Limitations
Georgia has a two-year statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits. That means that you have two years from the date of the accident to file your claim or two years from the date of death if the slip and fall case resulted in the victim’s death.
There are no damage caps for compensatory damages in Georgia. That means your economic damages resulting from the accident and your pain and suffering are not subject to caps. Punitive damages are non-compensatory, and they are subject to a $250,000 damages cap.
Most premises liability attorneys work on a contingency basis. This means that they’ll work on your slip-and-fall case for free until you receive a settlement or a jury verdict in your favor. In other words, you don’t have to pay out of pocket, and your attorney only collects a fee if you win. The average contingency fee in Georgia is 33%, but you should always ask a perspective slip and fall accident lawyer for a contingency fee schedule.
Slip and Fall Accident Statistics
The National Floor Safety Institute (NFSI) assembles statistics for floor accidents from data provided by the CDC and other reliable sources. Here are a few highlights pertaining to this type of premises liability case.
- Nationally, falls account for 8 million ER visits per year, and 1 million are from slip-and fall-accidents.
- Bone fractures occur in about 5% of all falls.
- Slip and falls are the number one cause of occupational injury for people 55 years and older.
- Falls cause 1,800 deaths annually, but 1.5 million ER treated Injuries among adults over 65.
- Falls are responsible for 87% of broken bones and are the second leading cause of spinal cord injuries for adults over 65.
If you were injured on someone’s property, you are entitled to compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more, regardless of your age. Contact a personal injury lawyer who handles slip and fall claims immediately.
According to the CDC, non-fatal falls are the leading cause of emergency room visits across all age groups.
2022 Slip and Fall FAQ
These are some of the most common questions asked by individuals making personal injury claims. The best way to get the answers to your questions is by contacting the Pendergrass Law Firm for a free consultation.
Why do I need a slip-and-fall accident lawyer?
Making an accident claim by yourself is not difficult. The insurance companies make sure of that, but when it comes to seeking full compensation for slip and fall settlements, you should leave matters in the hands of the experts. Your attorney can gather evidence, pull medical records, tabulate your financial costs, and determine the average settlement for your type of case. They can then negotiate with the responsible party’s lawyers.
What if I’m partially at fault for my accident?
Under Georgia law, you can still seek compensation even if you were partially responsible for your injuries. In these cases, the court will determine a percentage of fault and award you the portion of your damages for which you weren’t responsible.
For example, if a person was running through a grocery store and slipped in a puddle of oil that had not been cleaned up for several hours, the court may determine that store was 80% responsible and the injured person was 20% responsible. However, if the injured party had a spinal cord injury or some other permanent disability, the differences of a few percentage points may be significant enough to warrant a protracted court battle.
What’s the maximum amount I can sue for?
Again, Georgia law does not cap compensatory damages. That means you can collect compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, future lost wages, property damages, and all other economic damages. As long as you can show that you suffered a loss, they can be included in your claim. Non-economic damages are more difficult to calculate since there are no dollar-to-dollar comparisons.
Will I have to go to court to prove my case?
Not all cases lead to a slip-and-fall lawsuit. In fact, only a small percentage of slip and fall accidents make it to trial. Most settle during negotiations.
How long will a slip-and-fall lawsuit take?
For slip and fall accidents to fully work their way through the legal system, it can take one to three years. There is, however, the likelihood that the case will settle before it ever reaches the courtroom.
Why should I split my slip-and-fall settlement with an attorney if the insurance company has made me an offer?
Many accident victims think it’s a good idea to settle their claims fast and pocket as much of the offer as they can after medical bills. Personal injury attorneys justify their fees by collecting fees against much bigger slip-and-fall settlements. For example, if an insurance company offers a $50,000 settlement, but an injury attorney negotiates that settlement up to $120,000, while they collect $40,000 (on a 33% fee), the victim retains $80,000 before deducting other expenses. These numbers may be hypothetical, but the reality is that attorneys frequently garner much higher settlements for their clients’ fall injuries.
Georgia Slip and Fall Attorneys
If you’ve been injured in a slip and fall accident in the Atlanta, Georgia area, contact The Pendergrass Law Firm for a free case evaluation. We will review all of the aspects of your case and provide you with an assessment. If we accept your case, our legal team will immediately begin gathering evidence, calculating damages, filing claims, pulling medical records, etc.
Don’t accept an inadequate insurance company offer that may not even cover all of your medical expenses. We work on a contingency basis, so you never have to pay out of pocket, and we only get paid when you win. Call today for professional and immediate representation.