Falls are among the most common causes of injury in the United States. Slipping and tripping hazards account for a number of falls.
Often, people are quick to blame a slip and fall accident on their own clumsiness. In reality, negligence on the part of a property owner or another party with control of the premises may be to blame.
A Columbus slip and fall accident lawyer can help if you or a loved one suffered injury on unsafe premises. We invite you to start exploring your legal options right away by calling Colombo Law at (614) 362-7000 today for a free consultation.
What Causes Slip and Fall Accidents?
Slip and fall accidents can happen anywhere. From private residences and apartment buildings to commercial businesses and government properties, dangerous conditions can cause people on the premises to slip and fall.
The attorneys at Colombo Law can help if you were injured or a member of your family died as a result of a slip and fall accident caused by the following:
- Damaged or poorly maintained steps and stairs
- Missing or insufficient handrails
- Spilled liquids and wet floors
- Debris on public paths and walkways
- Improperly installed flooring
- Ripped, torn, and frayed carpets and rugs
- Exposed cords and wiring
- Cracks, potholes, and other damage to asphalt and concrete
- Inadequate lighting
These and other hazards commonly arise due to negligence on the part of the individual, business, or other entity that owns and/or controls the property. Negligence can take multiple forms, from careless maintenance of the premises to failing to warn visitors of potential dangers.
Common Injuries in Slip and Fall Accidents
Some falls result in nothing worse than a scraped knee and some bruises. In other cases, however, the consequences of a slip and fall accident can be severe.
It is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible if you are injured in a slip and fall. Potentially serious injuries that can occur in these accidents include:
- Broken bones, especially fractures in the wrists, arms, shoulders, knees, and ankles
- Head and brain injuries
- Neck injuries
- Back and spinal cord injuries
- Damage to soft tissue, including muscles, tendons, and ligaments
- Nerve injuries
Property owners and occupants can be held liable for personal injuries sustained in slip and fall accidents. Likewise, if negligence on the part of the owner or occupant resulted in a hazard that caused the death of a lawful visitor on the premises, the family of the deceased can make a wrongful death claim.
Is It Hard to Prove a Slip and Fall Case?
One of the major challenges in any slip and fall claim is preserving evidence of the conditions that caused the accident. Spills can be cleaned up, debris and other objects removed, and hazards repaired after the fact.
Another challenge is proving that the negligence of the owner or occupant led to the slip and fall accident. The evidence will need to show that the carelessness of the defendant(s) created the slipping or tripping hazard and/or that the defendant(s) knew or should have reasonably known about the danger on the property.
Compelling evidence in a slip and fall accident claim may include:
- Photos of dangerous conditions on the property
- Testimony from eyewitnesses who saw the slip and fall accident
- Video footage of conditions and activities on the premises
- A copy of the slip and fall accident report
- Most businesses and government entities have procedures in place for reporting injuries sustained on the premises
- Documentation of cleaning and maintenance schedules on the property
- Generally, you will need a Columbus slip and fall accident lawyer to gather these documents and other records on your behalf
In addition, you need to be prepared for the defense to argue that you are responsible for your injuries. Property owners and insurance companies will try to avoid paying you what is fair, usually by claiming that you slipped and fell because you were clumsy, failed to pay attention, etc.
With all of this mind, proving that you are entitled to compensation for a slip and fall accident can be challenging. This is especially true if you are seriously injured or incapacitated by the slip and fall accident.
For these reasons, it is in your best interest to speak to a Columbus slip and fall lawyer as soon as possible. Colombo Law will act quickly to investigate the accident and collect and preserve crucial evidence.
What Are the Elements of a Slip and Fall Case?
Many people believe that simply suffering injury on someone else’s property is enough to bring a claim. This is not the case.
Slip and fall accidents fall within the realm of premises liability. Under the theory of premises liability, property owners, lessees, and occupants have a legal obligation to ensure the safety of visitors.
The elements of a premises liability claim (including those involving slip and fall accident) are:
- You had a legal right to be on the property. Your legal status determines the duty of care owed to you by the owner or occupant.
- Invitees are owed the highest duty of care. An invitee is someone who has an express or implied invitation to enter the premises (e.g., the customer of a business). Property owners have a duty to inspect and maintain the premises, as well as warn invitees of potential dangers.
- Licensees enter premises for their own purposes or benefit (e.g., social guests, salespeople, etc.). The owner of the property is required to warn licensees of known hazards, as well as avoid willful or wanton conduct that creates a risk of injury.
- Trespassers have minimal legal rights. Property owners are only required to avoid conduct that is willful, wanton, or reckless that is likely to cause harm to the trespasser.
- The owner of the property breached the duty of care owed to you. Once your legal status is determined, the next step is establishing whether the owner or occupant breached the duty of care through negligence or wrongdoing.
- The property owner’s negligence caused you injury. The evidence must show that a hazard on the premises stemming from the negligence of the owner or occupant directly caused you harm (such as a slip and fall accident resulting in injury).
- You sustained compensable damages as a result of your injuries. Finally, you must present evidence that you and/or your family incurred damages due to the hazard on the premises.
Each of these conditions must be satisfied for your slip and fall accident claim to succeed. Attorneys at Colombo Law understand the challenges involved in premises liability claims. We are committed to building a strong claim on your behalf and holding the negligent property owner and/or occupant accountable.
What to Do After a Slip and Fall Accident
The steps you take after a slip and fall accident depend in large part on the seriousness of your injuries. If you know that you are severely hurt (i.e., you have broken a bone, suffered a significant laceration, etc.), if you have difficulty moving, or if you lose consciousness, the first step you should take is to call 911 and wait for emergency medical personnel.
If the slip and fall accident does not represent a medical emergency, there are steps you should take immediately to start protecting your legal rights. These include:
- Photographing any dangerous conditions that caused you to slip and fall
- Speaking to witnesses who saw the slip and fall accident; get the names and contact information for all of the individuals with whom you speak
- Reporting the slip and fall accident to the owner of the property or occupant in control of the premises
- Seeking medical attention; just because you can move on your own does not mean that you should skip going to the doctor
- Talking to a Columbus slip and fall accident lawyer; if you believe someone else’s negligence caused your slip and fall injuries, you owe it to yourself to seek legal guidance as soon as possible
After you receive medical treatment for your injuries, it is important to keep any followup appointments you have with your doctors, physical therapists, etc. The defense will point to any lapse in medical care as an indication that your injuries are not as serious as you say and/or that you contributed to their seriousness.
Over the course of your recovery, you also need to stay organized. This includes keeping track of communications from medical professionals, bills for your care, receipts for out-of-pocket expenses related to the slip and fall accident, and more. Our slip and fall accident attorneys will review the paperwork, notes, and other information and confer with you frequently on the progress of your case.
Compensation for a Slip and Fall Accident
Every case is different. In Ohio, the victims of slip and fall accidents can pursue full compensation for the personal injury damages they sustain.
Our Columbus slip and fall accident lawyers will fight to maximize the compensation in your case. You may be entitled to recovery of the following:
- Your medical expenses to date, as well as the future cost of medical treatment, rehabilitation, etc.
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity, if your slip and fall injuries impact your ability to work
- The cost of home-based medical care, household assistance, modifying your home and vehicle, and other expenses you pay out of pocket
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Permanent scarring and disfigurement
- Loss of consortium
Compensation for a slip and fall accident is generally recovered through an out-of-court settlement. However, it is important to be willing to file a lawsuit and, if necessary, go to trial.
At Colombo Law, we are trial attorneys. We prepare every case as if it will go to trial, and our firm is recognized for our skill, experience, and tenacity in the courtroom. This reputation enables us to achieve superior results for our clients.
Who Is Liable for a Slip and Fall Accident?
Liability for a slip and fall accident can be a complicated issue. One of the major challenges is identifying who is legally responsible for the condition of the premises.
The property owner is not always the defendant in a slip and fall claim. Occupants and lessees can be held liable if the terms of the lease specify that they are responsible for cleaning and maintaining the premises.
A Columbus slip and fall accident lawyer at Colombo Law can investigate to determine who is at fault for your injuries. Potential liable parties in your claim include:
- The owner or occupant of a residential property (such as a home, apartment, etc.)
- Landlords and property management companies that control:
- Apartment buildings and complexes
- Owners and occupants of commercial properties, including:
- Government entities
It is also important to account for any negligence on your part that may have contributed to the slip and fall accident. The other side will try to argue that you are wholly responsible for your injuries and try to deny you compensation. In reality, you can still recover damages if you are partly at fault, provided your share of responsibility is not greater than that of the defendant(s) (see Ohio Revised Code 2315.33).
Another important consideration in any slip and fall accident claim in Ohio is the “open and obvious hazard” defense. In Lang v. Holly Hill Motel, Inc., the Supreme Court of Ohio ruled that property owners can argue that a hazard on the premises was open and obvious and that the owner cannot be held liable for injuries sustained as a result of an obvious hazard.
Our lawyers will be prepared to meet these defense tactics head-on. We will collect all of the available evidence and build a strong case on your behalf to prove that the owner or occupant of the property is liable for your injuries and damages.
When Should I Hire a Slip and Fall Lawyer?
All personal injury cases are controlled by insurance companies. Slip and fall accident claims are no exception, with plaintiffs often having to deal with large and powerful commercial liability insurance carriers, as well as homeowners insurance companies, renters insurance companies, and more.
Going up against an insurance company on your own is a mistake. An experienced attorney can represent your interests and ensure that the insurer is not taking advantage of you.
So, hiring a slip and fall lawyer is generally a wise idea. However, there are specific situations where hiring an attorney is essential for the outcome of your case. These include:
- You suffered serious injury in the slip and fall accident
- A member of your family died as a result of a slip and fall
- Your claim involves significant damages
- Liability for the slip and fall accident is disputed
- The insurance company refuses to negotiate and/or offers you a lowball settlement
All of these scenarios make obtaining fair compensation more difficult. Choosing to hire a slip and fall attorney is the best way to protect your rights, advance your interests, and achieve a favorable outcome.
For more than 20 years, Colombo Law has been representing people who have been injured or lost loved ones due to the negligence of others. We understand the complexities of premises liability claims, and we will pursue the full compensation you and your family deserve.
Colombo Law makes each client a No Fee Promise. When you hire our firm, you pay nothing upfront and will not pay fees unless we recover damages on your behalf.
Please call Colombo Law at (614) 362-7000 today for a free case review. Our slip and fall lawyers serve clients in Columbus and throughout Ohio.