Although you might not expect a slip and fall accident to result in severe injuries, traumatic brain injuries, broken and fractured bones, and other injuries can all result from a simple fall. If you sustained injuries after slipping and falling on property belonging to others, you might have a claim to explore with the help of an Altoona slip and fall lawyer. By pursuing a claim with a personal injury lawyer, you can protect your right to compensation.
Slip and Fall Claims in Altoona
Personal injury claims that arise out of the legal obligation of property owners to keep their property safe for others are referred to as premises liability claims. Property owners have a duty to reasonably inspect and maintain their property to keep it in a safe condition for guests invited onto the property. If any accident, including a slip and fall, causes injuries to others who are lawfully present on the property, the injured parties may have a claim for damages against the property owner. Some common causes of slip and fall accidents that occur on the property of others may include:
- Spills, ice or snow that make floors slippery
- Cracked and uneven floor tiles, holes in carpeting, and loose flooring
- Poor lighting in stairwells and broken or missing handrails on stairs
- Rough, cracked, uneven or broken sidewalks
- Poorly maintained parking lots
Landowners have a legal duty to remedy, or warn others of, hazardous conditions on their property that pose a risk of harm or injury. This duty exists concerning all persons legally on the property, whether customers in a store or guests at a private residence. When property owners fail to abide by their legal duty, and injuries result, the injured parties may want to consult an attorney.
Are Landowners Ever Liable for Harm to Trespassers?
In most situations, the only duty of care a property owner owes to a person who is on the land illegally is to refrain from actively trying to hurt that person or other trespassers. Accordingly, it can be difficult for a trespasser to file suit for injuries they suffered from a slip and fall.
However, under the attractive nuisance doctrine, landowners can be liable for slips and falls suffered by trespassing children—specifically, if the landowner failed to take reasonable measures to keep children away from an “attractive nuisance” such as a swimming pool. An Altoona slip and fall attorney could clarify for an individual plaintiff or parent what options may be available in his or her situation.
Establishing Liability in Slip and Fall Claims
To prove that property owners are liable in personal injury claims, the injured parties must prove that the property owners were negligent in failing to maintain their property. Consequently, injury victims must prove that the negligence of the property owners directly led to the injuries at issue. In other words, if the negligence had not occurred, then the injuries would not have happened.
One essential factor in proving negligence in premises liability cases is whether the property owners knew, or should have known, that a dangerous condition existed on their property. In some cases, if a reasonable regular inspection of their property would have allowed them to discover the problem, the property owners may be liable.
Another relevant factor is whether the property owner took any action to remedy the dangerous condition or warn others of the situation. If the slip and fall occurs immediately after the hazard develops, the property owners may not have had time to fix it. However, if the hazard had existed for a significant period of time, then the property owner may be liable. A slip and fall attorney in Altoona may be able to examine specific situations and determine any liability in those situations.
What Recoverable Damages Might Be Available?
If a slip and fall victim can successfully establish a property owner’s liability for the accident, he or she may be able to seek compensation for both economic and non-economic forms of harm stemming from the incident. Economic damages typically center around medical expenses and the expected costs of future rehabilitative care, but they can also include missed work income, loss of future earning capacity, and the costs of replacing damaged personal property.
Non-economic damages, on the other hand, are more subjective in nature and will have a unique value for each plaintiff. Losses that are commonly considered non-economic damages include pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and loss of enjoyment of life.
What Could Potentially Limit Recovery?
In certain situations, a defendant may be able to successfully argue that the plaintiff suing them was partially responsible for the accident. For example, if the plaintiff was wearing worn-out footwear or not paying attention to the surroundings, the plaintiff might be found to be partially at-fault. If a court agrees with this kind of allegation, the court could reduce the plaintiff’s recoverable compensation by the portion of the victim’s own fault. If a plaintiff is found to be more at fault than the defendant, the plaintiff will be barred from recovering anything at all.
Furthermore, slip and fall cases must be filed within a certain period of time after the incident in question in order for the injured party to have a valid cause of action. Under 42 P.S. §5524, the statutory filing deadline for most slip and fall lawsuits is two years from the date of injury. However, it is important to start a slip and fall claim long before that. Evidence must be identified and preserved before it is lost. This may include surveillance footage from nearby cameras, which often erase the data automatically in the normal course of business. It is also essential to identify and locate witnesses who saw the incident. A lawyer must also properly identify the correct defendants, which may require obtaining the deed for the subject property and identify the correct corporate identity of the defendant, particularly if the fall happened on a commercial property – such as a shopping mall.
Call an Altoona Slip and Fall Attorney for Advice
Personal injury claims based on slip and fall accidents at stores, hotels, restaurants, or on private property may allow injury victims to recover compensation for their losses. Potential damages in a personal injury claim may include medical expenses, loss of income due to an inability to work, and emotional and physical trauma. Working with an Altoona slip and fall lawyer may permit you to get the compensation that you deserve for your injuries. Contact us to discuss your case with the lawyers at Marcus & Mack today.