Louisiana Slip and Fall Lawyers
Slip and fall accidents are among the most common causes of injury in the United States. These types of incidents can happen in numerous ways, as the term “slip and fall” is broadly used to describe any sort of accident where someone slips, trips, or stumbles and then falls and becomes injured as a result.
While a slip and fall can happen purely by accident, these incidents are most often a matter of premises liability. If a person slips and falls on someone else’s property, the owner of the premises can be held liable for the accident and injuries that occur. This is because property owners have a responsibility to maintain safe premises. So if a known hazard causes the slip and fall accident, the injured victim may be able to file a claim against the property owner.
If you need help filing a claim following a slip and fall accident, contact the experts at Lunsford, Baskin, & Priebe, PLLC. We have years of experience helping Louisiana clients get the compensation they deserve after a personal injury, including slip and fall injuries. We know what it takes to prove fault in a premises liability case to ensure property owners are held accountable for their negligence.
Steps to Take After a Slip and Fall
If you find yourself the victim of a slip and fall, the steps you take following the accident will be crucial to your case. In any personal injury or premises liability case, there must be sufficient evidence to prove what happened for you to recover damages, such as compensation for medical expenses. If there is insufficient evidence when you file your claim, insurers may deny your claim or offer you a reduced settlement amount.
This is because when you file a claim against someone else, it is generally their insurance company that will handle the case. However, because insurance companies often have to pay out a lot of money every year due to claims, they will try to look for ways to reduce or deny claims to avoid having to pay.
This is why the steps you take following a slip and fall are so important. If you are not careful, you could easily make a mistake that could lead to a denial or a reduced claim amount that is not enough to cover your damages. There must be sufficient evidence to support your claim so insurers can have no reason to deny you what you are owed.
We have outlined the steps below to help guide you and ensure you have all the information you need to win your slip and fall case:
Step 1: Attend to your injuries
Your health and wellbeing should always be your number one priority after an accident. If you require immediate medical attention, make sure someone calls for emergency responders or have someone drive you to the hospital or urgent care if needed. If your injury does not require an immediate trip to the ER, attend to your injuries, but stay on-site if possible to gather evidence.
Step 2: Report the incident
While you likely won’t need to call the police after a slip and fall accident, you should still make sure the incident is reported for evidence. If the property owner is available, tell them what happened. If the owner is not available, you should still report the accident to someone else on the premises, such as a security guard or any other employee. If you are concerned that someone is not properly documenting what happened to ensure there is an official report, you can use your phone to record yourself reporting the incident to the owner or anyone else available.
Step 3: Document the accident
Aside from reporting the incident, you will also want to take photos of the scene for evidence. Make sure you take clear pictures of where you fell and what caused you to fall. You should also take pictures of your injuries as well as anything else that you feel is relevant. Witness statements are also beneficial in premises liability cases, so make sure you get the contact information for anyone who saw what happened so they can be called upon to give a statement if necessary.
Step 4: Contact an attorney
As we mentioned earlier, proving fault in liability cases after a slip and fall accident can be tricky. Insurers will do whatever they can to deny your claim or disprove fault. However, with an attorney advocating for your rights and guiding you through the legal process, you are more likely to win your case and get the compensation you deserve.
One of the most important things to remember during this process is you should never say anything that makes it seem like you are admitting fault. If you say anything incriminating, it can make it even more challenging to prove that the property owner was responsible. Always avoid saying too much until you have spoken with an attorney.
Common Causes and Locations of Slip and Fall Accidents
A slip and fall accident can happen nearly anywhere; it simply depends on the individual circumstances and the hazards that are present. It could certainly be your fault too, but in many cases, slips and falls tend to happen due to someone else’s negligence. They can happen on someone’s personal residential property, or they could happen on a commercial property or at a place of business.
Some of the most common locations where slip and fall incidents occur include the following:
- Hotels and resorts
- Shopping malls
- Grocery stores
- Amusement parks
- Swimming pools
- Work and construction sites
- Retail businesses
- Parking garages
- Office buildings
Within these locations, several different risks or hazards could result in someone slipping or tripping and falling. Again, it is the property owner’s responsibility to keep their property clean, safe, and free of hazards. If a known hazard caused you to slip, stumble, or trip, you can hold the property owner liable and recover damages.
The top causes of slip and fall accidents include:
- Overly polished floors
- Slippery or wet floors from spilled liquids or oils
- Slippery floors or ground from snow and ice
- Recently waxed or mopped floors
- Lack of signage indicating wet floors
- Uneven or broken pavement or flooring
- Uneven or broken stairs
- Poorly lit areas and stairwells
- Loose mats, rugs, or carpeting
- Lack of handrails on ramps and stairs
- Loose or unsecured handrails
- Loose electrical cords
- Debris or cluttered floors
- Loose floorboards
If you are injured in a slip and fall accident for any reason, including those listed above, you should get in contact with an attorney as soon as possible. At Lunsford, Baskin, & Priebe, PLLC, we have experience handling various different slip and fall cases. We understand what it takes to hold property owners accountable and fight against insurance companies to ensure you get the compensation you deserve.
Types of Injuries After a Slip and Fall Accident
The injuries you sustain after a slip and fall will depend on how exactly the incident occurred. Some people will trip and fall forward, others will slip and fall backward—and they could hit their body against another object, a structural element, or against the floor or ground. The severity of the injuries can also depend on the individual person. For example, older adults who fall are more likely to sustain serious injuries than those who are younger, stronger, and more resilient.
No matter how you fall and injure yourself, however, you have a right to file a claim if the accident was the result of a known hazard and the property owner’s negligence. Even a minor injury such as a sprain or a strain can still require medical treatment or missed days off work. So you need to report the incident and file a claim, even if the injury doesn’t initially seem that bad. You also never know how an injury could progress with time. So, no matter the situation, you should always file a claim just in case you end up needing to see a doctor for more extensive treatments down the road.
Some of the most common injuries that result from slip and fall accidents include the following:
Broken Bones from Slip and Fall Accident
Broken bones and fractures are very common after someone slips and falls. This is typically because when we fall suddenly, we often hit parts of our bodies against the ground, putting more pressure on the bones than they can withstand. The force of impact and even the odd angles at which we hit our bodies against the ground or other objects will then cause the bones to fracture or break. Hand, wrist, arm, ankle, and hip bones are the most commonly injured after a slip and fall.
Soft Tissue Injuries
The soft tissues in our bodies, such as our muscles, tendons, and ligaments, can also easily become injured after a slip and fall. When our bodies slip and fall, we can often jerk, twist, or turn at odd angles, placing strain on the soft tissues. When the soft tissues are then stretched or moved beyond their normal range of motion, they can become torn and strained. While many soft tissue injuries can heal on their own, they can also result in chronic pain and leave you vulnerable to subsequent injuries.
Hip Fractures from Slip and Fall Accident
Hip fractures are prevalent in older adults who slip and fall. In fact, according to the CDC, more than 95% of hip fractures occur due to people falling sideways and hitting the ground. The bones in our bodies grow weak and brittle as we age, and the hips are one area that tends to become particularly sensitive and fragile. As the hips often take the brunt of the force when we slip and fall, this area of the body is more likely to sustain a severe injury, such as a hip fracture.
Wrist and Ankle Sprains
Often, when people fall forward, they will put their hands out in front of them to try to catch themselves. Unfortunately, when they do this, they often end up injuring their wrist. When force is placed on the ligaments in the wrist or when the wrist is caught at an odd angle, it can easily cause the area to become sprained. Ankle sprains are also common when a person slips and falls because when you slip or trip, your ankle can tweak or strain from taking an uneven step or from being bent at an unusual angle.
Back Injuries from Slip and Fall Accident
The back is another area that is often affected by slips and falls. Older adults are especially prone to tweaking their back muscles when they slip and fall or trip and fall. Unfortunately, tweaking or straining your back muscles can be quite painful and result in muscle spasms, limited mobility, and chronic pain. In severe cases, you can even damage the vertebrae in a slip and fall, which can cause slipped or herniated discs.
Head and Neck Injuries
People who slip and fall backward are more likely to hit the back of their head or neck against an object or the ground. Unfortunately, head and neck injuries can be quite severe. Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are especially common in those who fall and hit their heads. While some TBIs can be minor and heal with rest, others can be serious and lead to complications such as permanent brain damage, paralysis, reduced bodily functions, and even death.
Cuts, Abrasions, and Bruising
Of course, cuts, abrasions, and bruises are also quite common when you fall and injure yourself. Minor cuts and bruises will generally heal on their own and are not cause for concern. However, a slip and fall can lead to more severe lacerations and bruising that can result in internal bleeding.
Premise Liability Laws
Though owners are responsible for maintaining a safe and hazard-free premise, there are laws in place to protect them from always carrying the blame anytime an accident occurs. Essentially, if a person were to slip and fall and become injured, they must establish a burden of proof to recover damages. Understandably, not all accidents that occur on someone else’s property are the owners’ fault.
Premises liability laws in Louisiana require that the injured party, or the plaintiff, fulfill their burden of proof by meeting certain criteria. These criteria must be met if the injured person wants to recover damages for their injuries.
Premises liability criteria are as follows:
- The plaintiff must show that there was an existing hazard or condition on the property;
- The plaintiff must prove that the property owner knew about the dangerous condition or reasonably should have known about the hazard;
- The plaintiff must prove that the owner failed to address the hazard
- The plaintiff must show that the fall and their injuries were a direct result of the known hazard, and thus the property owner is at fault
While it may seem obvious to the injured victim that the property owner is responsible and at fault, the above criteria must be proven if they want to recover damages. This can be challenging and is purposely difficult to do as these laws are in place to protect property owners from always being held liable every time an accident occurs. You will need to work with an attorney who has experience handling premises liability cases and knows what it takes to meet the above criteria to prove fault.
Additionally, aside from proving the above criteria, plaintiffs must also meet the requirements of the statute of limitations. According to Louisiana code, injured victims have one year from the date of the incident to file a claim. If the plaintiff waits too long to file a claim and the deadline passes, the property owner can argue against the case and will likely prevail, resulting in a dismissal.
Compensation After a Slip and Fall Accident
There is no way to initially know how much compensation you will receive in a slip and fall case. When you file a claim, if the property owner is determined to be at fault, several other factors will be taken into consideration to determine how much money you are owed for your damages.
Factors that can play a role in how much your claim is worth include:
- Cost of medical treatments and medical bills
- Lost wages missed out on while recovering
- The extent or severity of the injuries and how much suffering and pain they cause
- How your daily life has been affected by the injuries
- If you are suffering emotional distress or emotional trauma as a result of the accident and your injuries
Louisiana also operates based on comparative negligence, which can affect your slip and fall case. Comparative negligence essentially means that both the fault of the plaintiff and the fault of the defendant will be taken into account when determining how much compensation is owed. If the injured victim holds any percentage of fault in causing the accident, their claim amount will be reduced based on that percentage. So, even if the property owner is mostly at fault, if you are found to be even a little responsible as well, the compensation you receive will be reduced based on your percentage of fault.
An Experienced Louisiana Personal Injury Attorney Can Help
If you are injured in a slip and fall accident on someone else’s property, our team of attorneys is here to help. We understand how frustrating premises liability cases can be and know what it takes to help you prove fault and hold the property owner responsible to ensure you get the compensation you deserve.
For help with a Louisiana premises liability claim, contact the personal injury lawyers at Lunsford, Baskin, & Priebe, PLLC, for a free consultation.