SLIP & FALL TOP RATED® LAWYERS
FREE CONSULTATION WITH AN ATTORNEY
FREE CONSULTATION WITH AN ATTORNEY
Slip and fall cases are sometimes referred to as “premises liability” cases. This is because the landowner or property manager are responsible to make sure their premises are safe for people that visit their location. And if they don’t make good on their responsibility, then there will be liability on their part.
Some feel that a simple slip and fall doesn’t really hurt or leave lasting injuries. While some might get lucky and only hurt their pride in a fall, others can be left with lasting, permanent injuries, sometimes even catastrophic injuries. For example, injuries from falls can be as simple as a bruise or as serious as broken bones, traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injuries and in some cases, even death. Many of these injuries that occur in a public place did not need to happen if the property or store owner took precautions and the time to make their place safe.
Falling down is embarrassing. And some people might just pick themselves up and get out of the area as soon as possible without documenting their fall and collecting evidence to support a potential claim. Of course, we never talk to those folks as many of them simply walk away from potential claims. If you look around, though, you’ll find that many personal injury attorneys, such as those in our office, will provide a free consultation to help you see if you even have a case. Seeking competent legal counsel early can be the difference in whether you have a case or not. For example, if you fell in an apartment parking lot and you didn’t take pictures of what the scene looked like, it might be very difficult two months later to paint a picture when it’s 70 degrees outside. From our experience, when you get injured in a fall, often you are not even thinking about preserving evidence for a possible claim – or lawsuit. That’s why it’s important to take advantage of the free consultation. Getting an attorney on your slip and fall case as soon as possible will help increase the odds of a successful outcome.
At the Kramer Law Group, we offer a free review of your case to see if it has the components that make for a winning case and advise you of evidence we think will help strengthen your case. It costs nothing to see if there’s something there. During our meeting with you, we’ll listen to your story and if we think there is merit to your case, will investigate deeper to see if we can satisfy the requirements for such a claim under Utah law. If you hire us, we’ll develop a proactive strategy to clinch the evidence quickly that will help improve the chances of success down the road. We’ll look at your injuries and calculate your medical bills, lost wages and future lost wages, and examine how your fall might affect your ability to earn a living. We’ll then collect all supporting records, bills, expert opinions, and other evidence, and attempt negotiation with the property owner and their insurance company.
The reality is that most personal injury cases, including slip and fall or premises liability cases, will be settled out of court. In the event that it does not, we will take your case to trial and present it to a jury of your peers.
In reviewing your case, we will first want to determine whether the property owner or manager was negligent. They may have been negligent by not having a system to keep things safe, such as regular snow removal or floor sweeps. Or there may be a safety issue that has not been addressed, such as a leaking fountain drink machine or defective rain gutter that allows water to pool on the ground and freeze. The negligence factor is one aspect of proving your case. Overall in Utah, however, there are four elements you will need to prove to be successful.
Another thing to consider is how you may have contributed to the fall happening. If you fell on snow in front of a business that should have cleared their walks and applied ice melt, yet you were wearing flip flops, then they will point the finger at you and suggest you “contributed” to your fall happening. This is not an uncommon thing for the at-fault entity or “defendant” to do. In Utah, we have a jury instruction that allows a jury to apportion fault between the person making the claim and the defendant. This is called “comparative negligence.” So long as your fault is less than 50% of the total fault, you can still make a claim. If your fault is found to be 50% or more, then your claim will be cut off. Give us a call to discuss your specific issue and we’ll give you an idea of whether we feel we can still prevail and what the likely outcome may be.
Every state has deadlines for when you need to file your claim with the court. This is called a “statute of limitations.” If you wait longer than this period, your claim will expire. So it’s therefore important that you don’t delay making your claim. Other problems can happen if you delay, such as loss of evidence, witnesses, video surveillance, etc. Your case will be a stronger and more valuable case if you act quickly after the fall happens to retain legal counsel to protect and build your case.
In Utah, the deadline for bringing a legal claim against the at-fault property owner or manager is four years from when the fall happened. While the limitations period is relatively long, you should act much sooner than this if you hope to prevail on your case. You also want to leave time to try and work things out with the insurance company for the property owner. Since many cases are settled before they are filed, it makes sense to start early to see if settlement is an option that will work best for your circumstances. For most of our clients, a fair settlement is the preferred way to resolve their case without the time and expense and stress of filing a case in court and litigating it.
If your case is filed in court, the defendant property owner will hire their own lawyer and will file an “Answer” to the complaint you file. The defendant will build their case as your attorney builds yours. In the end, though, the reality is that the great majority of these premise liability cases will not go to trial as the parties will try and work out a compromise to the case. This means that you might forego additional money on your case to get it resolved quicker. The defendant, on the other hand, will be motivated to try for a settlement as this will likely reduce their exposure at trial. If your case is strong, though, you should consider going all the way to trial – with the right attorney – as this can be a good way to maximize your recovery.
People get hurt every day in Utah from falls. While not every fall will provide a legal remedy for you, when you fall on someone else’s property because of an unsafe condition, you should at a minimum investigate whether there is a case there. In doing your research, make sure investigate the law firm to see if they have the qualifications and experience to take your slip and fall case the distance – if necessary. The attorneys at the Kramer Law Group have helped thousands of personal injury clients over the years and have resolved numerous premises liability and slip and fall cases, including taking these cases to trial.
As fall cases are sometimes unique and novel, in your search for the right attorney, find one that harnesses the power of using focus groups to guide and direct the case. A focus group of 8-10 people from the community can be crucial in discovering the good parts of your case, as well as the warts that need to be dealt with and reframed. They can provide a unique perspective that you or even your attorney could not get on their own.
Supermarkets such as Walmart or Smiths, as well as other retail establishments, have a responsibility to make sure their stores are safe for their customers. Utah law says that storeowners are required to use “reasonable care” to repair, replace or warn about unsafe conditions they know or should know about.
In this era of low unemployment, stores can cut corners and not have staff to make sure their stores are safe. Some examples can be slippery floors or parking lots, unsafe staircases, carpeting that is pulling up, raised curbs or cement in the parking lot or sidewalk, loose carpeting, items such as mats that are left out, poor lighting, and even falling merchandise. Shoppers are considered “invitees” under the law and have the right to be safe when they’re shopping. As such, customers are owed the highest standard of care, to the point that the stores should be actively looking for and fixing hazards that exist, blocking off unsafe areas, and at a minimum, warning of potentially unsafe conditions. Failure to follow these simple guidelines to insure your safety is negligence, which potentially makes the store liable for all injuries that may follow.
Slip and falls can leave life-changing injuries. If a property owner was negligent and you were injured, the owner or property manager may be on the hook to pay for all injuries and damages that flow from that injury. Examples include covering the victim’s medical bills, lost wages and future lost wages, inability to work in the future, loss of enjoyment of life, permanent disability, pain and suffering, etc.
Falls are especially dangerous for seniors, who suffer even more when they take a nasty fall. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found that falls for those over 65 are the leading cause of fatal injury and the most common cause of hospital admissions for nonfatal trauma-related injuries. [LINK: https://www.ncoa.org/news/resources-for-reporters/get-the-facts/falls-prevention-facts/] In my experience, a fall by an older person can have severe consequences, to the point that a fall can frequently lead to death for those advanced in their years. We see examples of this when an older person falls down, fractures their hip, and dies a short time later. Not only does the senior experience a physical injury, but there is a psychological component that causes many to give up, which sadly contributes to their ultimate demise.
If you or a loved one have experienced a slip and fall, we invite you to call to schedule a FREE, no-commitment consultation. During this meeting, we can tell you if we feel like you have a case and what the likely outcome can be if we get involved. There is no obligation and no risk. So, let us know how we can help you.