Slip and fall accidents can happen to anyone. It’s likely that you have had more than a few personal experiences of this kind, which probably resulted in nothing more than temporary aggravation. Sometimes, however, slip and fall accidents cause serious injuries—occasionally even life-changing ones. Many of these incidents can be traced to the negligence of another party, such as a property owner who failed to maintain their premises properly and thereby exposed others to unsafe conditions. When this happens, the victim is eligible (as per New York law) for compensation from the owner of the defective/unsafe property.
Causes of Slip and Fall Accidents
Slip and fall incidents happen in an alarmingly large number of environments, including but not limited to:
- Parking ramps
- Tile floors
Sometimes, icy or slick surfaces cause a painful fall. Wet sidewalks, where snow has recently melted or spilled liquid is present, are a common culprit in these cases. Staircases with patches of water are similarly quite dangerous. There have also been cases where people have slipped on flooring made of naturally slick material not really suited for foot traffic.
Trip and Fall Accidents
Closely related to slip and fall accidents, trip and fall incidents occur when a pedestrian’s foot encounters a physical object or obstruction that shouldn’t be present. Uneven stairs—whether their condition is due to poor installation, impact-related damage, or gradual wear—cause many stairway accidents. Badly fitted carpet can become bunched up in certain areas, which poses a tripping hazard. Raised sidewalks lead to a number of accidents as well.
Slip and Fall Injuries
Most of the time, a slip and fall accident results in no serious harm to the individual. There are exceptions, though, and these incidents are what we are focusing on here.
Slip and fall accidents can lead to a wide range of injuries, such as head injuries, which can include brain damage; torn ligaments; sprained ankles; broken legs; damage to the hands or arms (often due to attempting to cushion a fall); and strained muscles.
It cannot be emphasized enough that these kinds of accidents can be very serious. In some cases, the injured individual never regains normal command of the affected limb or body part.
Property Owner Liability Issues
Fortunately for victims of New York slip and fall accidents, the law is generally on the side of those who have been harmed in this manner. Property owners have a legal obligation to ensure that spaces under their control have no safety hazards that could harm visitors who pass through the area.
For example, commercial property owners who control a parking lot must take reasonable steps to ensure that ice and snow is removed in prompt fashion. If icy patches develop, and the owner fails to take steps to get rid of them or to set up appropriate warning signs, then they could be liable if a pedestrian injures themselves while walking across the area.
Stairwells must also be outfitted with safety rails that are sturdy enough to support the weight of someone using the stairs. The New York City Building Code requires all interior stairs between 44” and 88” in width to have a handrail on both sides. Stairs over 88” in width must have a handrail through the middle in addition to those on the sides. Furthermore, the stairwell must have proper lighting.
Private homeowners also have an obligation to ensure that their property is safe for visitors—whether by warning others of hazards in the area or by removing the hazard itself.
How Do You Know Whether You Have a Case?
In order to win a court-ordered judgment for your slip and fall injury, the following conditions must apply:
- You had the legal right to be on the property.
- Your injuries were the direct result of the slip and fall
- The owner of the property in question knew about, or should have known about, the hazard that caused the accident, and failed to post an adequate warning or fix the issue.
To determine whether you have been victimized by the negligence of another party, you need to contact a slip and fall attorney in New York.
Types of Compensation
Depending on the circumstances of the case, you may be entitled to financial compensation based on one or more of the following factors:
- Loss of physical function
- Lost wages
- Medical expenses (current and future)
- Pain & suffering
- Reduced earning capacity
- Emotional distress
What to Do If You’ve Been Injured in a Slip and Fall Accident
Your actions after your accident can play a large role in determining whether you receive a suitable settlement or judgment for your suffering. If you have been injured in a slipping or tripping accident, follow these steps to the best of your ability:
- Seek Medical Attention – This will generate a medical report that may be useful later. Also, bear in mind that injuries may initially seem far less serious than they really are, so it’s best to go through a proper medical examination.
- Contact the Property Owner – If you have been injured on a commercial property, you should file a formal report with the owner explaining your version of events. Make sure you obtain a copy for yourself. If you were injured in a private home, inform the owner about the situation.
- Contact Witnesses – If there are any witnesses to the incident, get their contact information.
- Take Photographs – You should get pictures of the accident scene as well as yourself (preferably in the same clothing). Get as many angles as possible. Your slip and fall personal injury attorneys should visit the scene to inspect the area, but it’s best if you can document the scene immediately, before evidence disappears and the environment changes.
- Contact a New York slip and fall lawyer – You need experienced legal help to maximize your chances of obtaining a positive result.