Slip and Fall Cases: What Collier & Collier Wants You to Know
Slip and fall cases can be hard to win…unless you know what you’re doing.
Slip and falls account for more than 8 million emergency room trips each year. Many of these cases then result in a civil claim for damages. If you happen to be in Virginia, there are some things you need to know before you decide to pursue your claim. Slip and fall cases can take a lot of time and money to win. You don’t want to invest either unless have a good chance of winning. So we’ve created this guide to help you prepare and have the best chance of recovery for your injuries and property damage.
Don’t Wait Too Long
You have two years to file a civil claim for injuries in the state of Virginia. This also applies if the slip and fall is the cause of the death of the injured person. You have a bit longer if you want to file for recovery for property damage at five years. This will be if you want to receive damages for something like an expensive watch that was broken during the fall.
Prepare Your Evidence
The type of slip and fall case you have will dictate the type of evidence you need to gather. There are some general pieces of evidence that you need no matter what type of case you have.
- Clothing – Keep your clothing and shoes. These will be important later on to show any damage that can support your narrative and injuries. Keeping your shoes can also show that you didn’t fall because of them.
- Surveillance– Locate and gather any surveillance footage from the incident. This is key to show that you did not do anything to create the fall.
- Take Pictures – Take pictures of your injuries. You may need to take pictures at the event and a couple of days later as bruising develops.
While you are at it, take pictures of the location where you fell. Be sure to capture the dangerous object or condition that caused you to fall.
- Witnesses – If you slip and fall in a public place, there may be witnesses to your accident. If this is the case, you will want to make sure to get their contact information. That way you can gather witness statements later on.
- Reports – If there are any reports created as a result of the slip and fall, you will want them. There is usually a report that the business creates for its internal reporting. The other vital reporting you need is any medical reports from an emergency room or doctor visit. These records of diagnosis and treatment will help you link your injuries to this incident. Otherwise, the defendant might try to show that your injuries are from a previous incident thereby making them not liable.
Are You Liable?
In some states, if you are found to be more than 50% liable for the accident, then you cannot recover for your injuries. In other states, your recovery is reduced by the percentage that you are found at fault.
Virginia’s Negligence Law
Virginia has a tough negligence law that states you cannot be at fault to recover. That means you have to show that the other party is 100% at fault for your injuries.
There is one exception to this law that deals with common carriers. If you are a passenger on a bus, taxi, train, cruise ship, or commercial plane, then contributory negligence won’t bar your recovery. If the common carrier violated a safety regulation, then you can recover lost wages, pain and suffering, and medical expenses.
Prepare Your Defenses
Prepare your response to these arguments; they are the most common claims that a property owner will make to show that you are at least in some part liable.
- Trespass – The property owner will claim that you went where you weren’t supposed to go. With this claim, you are liable because you negligently went where visitors aren’t allowed, so you trespassed.
- Wrong Shoes – Remember how we said saving your shoes is important. Well, this is why. The property owner will claim that you wore the wrong shoes that result in an unsafe situation. Maybe it was the dead of winter, and you slip and fell on the front walk of the business because they didn’t treat the walkway and now it’s covered in ice. The property owner claims you were in 4-inch stilettos. Obviously, these are the wrong shoes for the conditions. You can show that no; you were in your weather-appropriate boots.
- Lack of Attention – The surveillance footage will save you from this claim. The property owner will claim that you simply weren’t paying attention and missed the dangerous condition warnings. Common reasoning these days is that you were on your cell phone. If you have the security video, then there is no argument about whether you were or were not on your phone. If you can’t get the footage or there is none available, try getting your cell phone records. Don’t simply get your cell phone records. Contact the phone company for a record of the actual use times of your phone. This can help to show that your phone wasn’t in use during the time of the accident.
- The Dangerous Condition Was Obvious – The property owner will try to show that the dangerous condition was obvious. They may even show that they took steps to protect visitors by posting signs and cordoning off the area. If this is the case, you are going to have a tough road proving that the property owner didn’t do enough to warn and protect visitors.
Hire an Attorney with Experience in Slip and Fall Cases
The first step to winning slip and fall cases is to hire an attorney who has experience. They will know how to prepare your case in the best way possible.
They will also be able to tell you if you should even pursue a case. You may find that because you are partially at fault, pursuing a slip and fall case isn’t wise.
Contact us today and let us help you prepare for your slip and fall case.