15 Slip and Fall Tips

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The other day, I got a phone call from a new client who slipped and fell on ice in front of a commercial building a month earlier. I said to her, “Did you take photographs of the location where you fell, at the time that you fell?” and the answer was no. That is a crucial mistake. Mistake number one was not getting to an attorney sooner. Mistake number two was not getting photographs of the location where the incident occurred that identified the ice spot where she fell. One of the biggest mistakes that I see is that people suffer an injury – either a slip and fall on a sidewalk or a slip on ice – and they don’t identify specifically where they fell and they don’t have photographs taken. If you retain competent council early on, that attorney can work with you to make sure these things are done.

Steps After a Slip and Fall Injury

I had a client come in the other day who suffered a slip and fall in front of a commercial property. The first step is that we’re going to want to get photographs of the scene where the accident occurred. We want to get photographs of the specific spot where the accident happened. I can’t tell you how often the case is where a client comes to me late in the game and that defect that caused the slip and fall is no longer there. As a first step, we need to do the investigation process to make sure we get photographs of the specific location where the accident occurred. We want to know who the property owner is. We want to do a search to see if we can identify the property owner, which we will. When we identify the property owner, we’ll send them a representation letter advising them that we have a client who suffered serious injuries in a slip and fall in or outside of their property. These are the initial steps. What I tell clients is their job is to get better. Their job is to seek the medical attention that they need and to follow the advice of their medical professionals, to move through that recovery process.

Choosing a Slip and Fall Attorney

If you’re here, chances are you suffered a slip and fall injury in New York, and you’re wondering, “How do I know who to pick as my attorney? What should I be looking for?” Number one, you want to make sure that the attorney has experience handling personal injury matters, more specifically, experience with slip and fall type cases. You want to know that the attorney is someone you can work with. You want to meet with that attorney. You want to ask the attorney questions about the type of cases that the attorney has handled in the past. You want to make sure you feel comfortable with that attorney; that’s also very important. What I don’t recommend you do is take an attorney who does divorce work or estate work, or some other area of practice, and who doesn’t practice personal injury in slip and fall type cases. You want an attorney who understands what needs to be done to make sure that you can get the highest possible recovery for your injuries.

Slip and Fall on Residential Property

If you’re here, chances are you suffered a slip and fall injury on a residential property in New York. There are lots of factors that come into play as to what you need to do when you suffer an injury on a residential property. One, you need to get photographs of the location where the accident occurred. I don’t mean a picture of the house; I’m talking about a picture of the spot where you fell. That becomes very important. The earlier those photographs are taken, the better. You want to make sure when you go to the hospital that you let the hospital and/or the ambulance personnel know that you fell while walking up or down the stairs and that that’s how your injury happened, that it’s documented. You want to make sure you retain an attorney who knows how to handle personal injury litigation and how to handle slip and fall cases. That attorney will make sure the investigation is done properly, that the proper photographs are taken, if they can be taken, and that you do what you need to do to help ensure that we’re able to get the best recovery possible.

Slip and Fall on City Property

Chances are, if you’re here, you suffered a trip and fall injury on a sidewalk or a curb in New York. One of the questions that is often asked is who’s responsible for your injury? In certain situations, you can hold the municipality responsible. Let me give you an example: In the city of New York, there are statutes and in the statute, it states that the adjacent property owner is responsible for a trip and fall on a sidewalk. However, if the trip and fall happens at curbside, now it’s the responsibility of the city, or if the trip and fall involved a tree, that’s the responsibility of the Parks and Recreation. There’s a good chance that you have a claim against the city. The municipality could be held responsible, but as well, you would make sure to hire competent council to pursue a claim against the adjacent property owner.

Faulty Handrail Injury

I had a client come to me the other day and told me that they suffered an injury walking down a flight of steps while going into the basement of a property that they were renting, and the steps did not have handrails. He was walking down, he lost his balance, and he literally fell over the side of the stairs onto the concrete below and he suffered a broken leg. The first thing we needed to do is take measurements photographs of the stairs. The first thing that you need to do is retain competent council to guide you through the process, to make sure a proper investigation is done, to ensure that we have the evidence that’s needed to pursue the highest possible recovery for you down the road.

Faulty Step Injury

I had a client call me the other day who fell down a flight of steps. She wanted to know, “Do I have a case against the property owner?” I said possibly. She didn’t say that there was any defect on the step, so we have to investigate further. She came in, she retained our office. We were able to get onto the property and we took some measurements. We found that the risers in the steps were out of whack, that the step is too narrow and should be wider. There are certain code requirements that were not met, and that’s what caused her to fall. We were able to call her and tell her, yes, we believe that you have a case here. We believe that the property owner violated certain building code regulations, and we went ahead and began the process of pursuing a claim on her behalf.

Slip and Fall Case Value

Clients often ask me, “How much is my slip and fall case worth in New York?” There’s no easy answer to that question. It depends on the extent of the injury. It depends on whether or not the injuries are permanent in nature; that goes into the factoring of the value of the case. It depends on liability. When I say liability, whose fault is it? How much of that fault is on the part of the property owner or the managing agent, or whomever was responsible for ensuring that that location where you fell was safe? All of these factors have to come into play. Our firm will make sure that you get the highest possible compensation that you’re entitled to.

Slip and Fall Settlement Timeline

If you’re here, chances are you were injured in a slip and fall accident in New York. Very often, I have clients ask me, “How long will it take to resolve the case?” There’s no real easy answer, especially when dealing with slip and fall type cases. There may be more than one entity involved. There’s an investigation process that we have to go through. There may be a management company that manages the area where you fell. The owners where you fell may be responsible, or it may be the management company. It could be a contractor who caused some sort of a defect at the location where you fell. These things take time to resolve. I will tell you that this firm will do everything in our power to get you a result as quickly as possible.

Slip and Fall and Insurance Companies

We just met with a new client about three days ago, and she went through her fact pattern of what happened in her case. She slipped and she fell, and the owner of the adjacent property saw that she slipped and fell. The owner did the right thing and notified his insurance carrier. We got a call from her, literally a few hours after she left our office, to tell us that she had gotten a call from the owner’s insurance company and they wanted to take a recorded statement. We told her, as we do all of our clients, “If you receive a phone call from an insurance company, you direct them to our office and we’ll deal with them; we’ll communicate with them.” We would not want a client to get on the phone with the insurance company, especially for a recorded statement, without counsel being there.

There are certain limited circumstances where we will allow or agree to a recorded statement in a slip and fall case, obviously with an attorney there to protect the client’s rights. There is no obligation that a client or an injured party who slips and falls submit to a recorded statement. There are limited situations where it is an obligation, and that would be if it’s regarding a municipality. If you slip and fall on municipal property, then there’s a whole set of rules that you have to follow; there’s a notice of claim, and then there’s what they call a 50-h hearing. What you should do is call an attorney right away who will guide you through the process and all of these issues.

Slip and Fall Warning Sign

The other day a new client called to tell us that she slipped and fell in what appeared to be a slippery, soapy substance. In the corner of the hallway where she fell there was a warning sign that said ‘Caution: Slippery When Wet.’

Just because that sign is there doesn’t mean that the owner, managing agent, or whoever was responsible for cleaning that hallway doesn’t have an obligation to make sure that it’s safe. Using too much soap, using the wrong kinds of soaps, can make the floor extra slippery. The wrong type of flooring can make the floor more slippery, too. No matter how cautious you might be, you may very well slip and fall. It may be a situation where you have to get from one end of the hallway to the other, and you have no choice but to go through that hallway.

Having a sign that says ‘Caution’ doesn’t necessarily mean that you won’t have a claim against those that were responsible for maintaining and controlling that hallway, even if there’s a sign that says ‘Be Careful.’

Slip and Fall on Rental Property

We’re often asked in slip and fall cases, “Who’s responsible for paying my medical bills?” In this particular case, it’s a situation where the question was, “I fell on the steps of my neighbor who was renting the house. Who’s responsible for paying my bills?” The answer is the owner of the property and/or the tenant, depending on exactly what it was that caused you to fall. This goes to the mechanism of the injury, the mechanism of the fall.

Was it a structural defect in the step? That’s the responsibility of the owner of the property. Was it what we call a transient defect— a slip on a banana peel or on some garbage that was put there by the tenant? We would prosecute a claim against both the neighbor/tenant and against the owner. You would hope the owner would have liability coverage on the house, and you would hope the tenant would have a tenant homeowner’s policy on the house.

Some of these policies have what they call MedPay, meaning it doesn’t matter whose fault it is, they’ll make sure the medical bills are paid up to a certain dollar amount — say, $5,000 or $10,000. Our suggestion is that you would give us a call and we would investigate. We would investigate as to who the owner is and notify them, asking that they provide their insurance company information. We would also prosecute a claim against the neighbor, the tenant, and ask that they provide us with their insurance information, and then we would move forward to get you the compensation for both the pain and suffering that you may be dealing with and the payment of your medical bills.

Slip and Fall Recovery for Senior Citizens

We had the daughter of a senior call the other day to tell us that her father was walking on the street and was caused to trip and fall. She said he normally uses a cane to walk, but on this particular occasion he did not have his cane. The defect was pretty clear— there was definitely a defect in looking at the photographs. The question is, with him not having that cane when he should be using a cane for balance, will that affect his case? Certainly, the adjacent property owner, who was responsible for that sidewalk, is going to make those arguments.

The real question was, “Is it harder for a senior, an elderly person, to make a claim?” They already have other issues that may have somehow contributed to the happening of the accident, or they may have a condition that may have already existed prior to the accident, so, while there may have been an injury, arguably much of the injury was a preexisting injury.

These issues do come up, and they certainly come up more so when dealing with seniors. The best advice is to have an attorney look at your case. Contact us. We will do what we can to prosecute the claim against whomever was responsible, mindful of the fact that we’re dealing with a senior, that there could very well be prior conditions that were aggravated by the accident and that there may be mitigating circumstances when the accident occurred.

Slip and Fall Medical Bills

We very often get the question, “I was in an accident. I slipped and I fell, and I was seriously injured. I have hospital bills, medical bills, orthopedic surgeon bills, and they’re piling up. Who is going to pay those bills?” The answer is you want to go after and prosecute a claim against the property owner where you slipped and fell. If the slip and fall was caused by, let’s say, a defect in a sidewalk or some sort of debris or material that you slipped on, or it happened inside a building in a hallway where there was water or grease or wax that was not properly removed during cleaning, you would have a claim against those who are responsible for maintaining and controlling that sidewalk or hallway. It certainly would be wise to contact us, and we will prosecute a claim against those that are responsible.

Certainly, if you have health insurance, you may provide your health insurance policy information to get those initial bills paid. At the end of the day, however, the responsible party is the one that would be responsible for ensuring that those bills are paid.

Slip and Fall on Ice or Snow

A client called us the other day and said, “I slipped and fell on some ice in front of a grocery store. Do I have a claim against the operator of the grocery store?” Our answer was, “Yes, you have a potential claim against the operator of the grocery store. You may also have a claim against the owner of the building where the grocery store resides, if the owner is different from the grocery store.” You would have two potential defendants, and sometimes you may even have more, depending on the situation, where you can prosecute a claim and get compensation for your pain and suffering and get those medical bills paid.

My suggestion is that, if you’re in that situation, you give us a call as soon as possible so we can pursue and prosecute a claim against the ones that may have caused your accident. I also want to point out, as long as we’re on the subject of slip and falls on ice, it would be a wise thing to do, if the accident just happened, to get some photographs of the location where you fell. A picture is worth a thousand words, and you’ll be able to see that later on it could be used as evidence of exactly what it was that you slipped and fell on.

Contact the Law Offices of Brian J. Elbaum today for a free case evaluation.

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