When you slip and fall at a business and it results in an injury, you may be entitled to compensation. In Texas, slip and fall cases are generally more difficult to prove than a motor vehicle accident. For that reason, some personal injury attorneys don’t handle them regularly and only take them if it looks like a slam dunk case from the onset. Attorneys that take slip and fall cases will likely represent you on a contingency basis, which means they won’t recover their fees and costs unless they are successful on your behalf. You probably won't find a slip and fall lawyer who only dedicates their practice to that kind of case. Ensuring your case is solid increases your chances on finding an attorney to take your claim.
There are many factors to consider when determining whether or not you have a slip and fall case. Every case is different and needs to be evaluated on its own merits. Just because a friend of a friend fell at a store a few years ago, does not mean that your case will yield the same results. In fact, your case could be worse, the same, or better! To get your specific questions answered, make sure you speak with an injury attorney you trust.
When you are a patron in a business, they owe you a standard of care – i.e. they are obligated to make sure their premise is safe for their customers. In order to be successful in a claim against a business for an injury sustained in their store, we need to prove four things:
The most common example of a “hazardous condition” is spilled substance on the floor that causes the area to be slick and slippery. Of course, anything can constitute a hazardous condition – holes and divots in the parking lot, poor lighting, broken tile on the floor, etc. If you have questions about a specific incident, call a slip and fall lawyer for a free consultation!
Keep in mind the existence of a hazardous condition is only one thing that you need to prove in order to win a slip and fall case. Usually, the most difficult element to prove is that the business actually knew about the hazardous condition or should have known about it. Most slip and fall cases fail because it is difficult to prove just what the business knew and when.
For example, if there was a spilled substance on the floor that caused your injuries, but the surveillance cameras showed that another customer spilled the substance mere moments before your injury, then the business is not likely to be at fault for your injuries. There simply wasn’t enough time for them to be aware of the hazardous condition. Now, if the customer that spilled the substance reported it and the business waited an hour to clean it up – that’s another story.
Not only is the notice requirement different to prove, but there are certain defenses that businesses have to shield themselves from liability. One of the most common is the “open and obvious” defense. This simply means, that if a business can prove that the hazard was easily seen and readily apparent to customers, then a jury may believe that you should have seen the danger before falling and may put some of the blame on you for not avoiding the accident.
After an accident, your adrenaline is pumping. You may be a little embarrassed and in a lot of pain. As best you can, it is important to preserve as many details as possible. Were there witness around? If so, get their name and phone number. Did any employees try to help you? If so, get their names. The business may ask you to complete an incident report about what happened – good! Complete the report and ask for a copy. If they don’t ask you to complete the report, ask them to complete one and get a copy! An incident report is the first step to creating evidence that proves the accident took place. Also, be sure to take photos of where you fell along with any visible injuries. In cases where you slipped on a clear substance, sometimes a photo of a wet pant leg can be the difference between success and failure.
When you’re injured because of someone else’s (or a business’) negligence, you have a right to recover from the at-fault party. The right to recover is not absolute. It is your responsibility to prove the extent of your injuries (also known as “damages”) with corroborating evidence. In most cases, this can be done through medical records and corresponding paystubs to prove you missed work as a result of the injury.
Of course, you can go to trial with your testimony alone – but a jury may not buy it.
If you’re injured, then you should go to the doctor and get the help you need. If you just scraped your knee, but the pain went away after a few minutes with no lingering or lasting issues, then you may decide that you don’t need medical care. In that scenario, it is unlikely that you have enough to pursue a slip and fall claim against the business.
The ins and outs of a slip and fall case can be tricky. In order to protect yourself from future medical bills, the safest option is to use your health insurance for any medical care that you need. Rest assured that if and when there is a recovery, you will get that deductible back and your health insurance should be reimbursed from the at-fault party.
If you don’t have insurance, you may still have options for treatment. When you find a personal injury attorney who will take your case, they may be able to send you to a doctor under a letter of protection. A letter of protection is essentially a contract between the treating physician and your attorney that says, they promise to pay the doctor’s bill from any monies received in your case before disbursing it to you. This is a way for you to get the medical care you need without having to pay out of pocket upfront. However, it’s important to know that if there’s no recovery, you will likely be stuck with those bills.
Experiencing a slip and fall in a public place can be traumatic. It’s important to call a slip and fall lawyer as soon as possible so they can start working to preserve evidence while you focus on your recovery. Don’t wait! Surveillance videos are often recorded over after a day or two. Your attorney needs to act quickly! If you have questions, call to speak with an accident attorney today!
At McKinney Vos, we handle slip and fall cases throughout central Texas. Based in Austin, we offer free consultations and work on a contingency basis - meaning you pay nothing out of pocket. Contact today to discuss your slip and fall case.