If you have been injured in a slip-and-fall accident, you may be able to claim compensation from the person who caused your injury. There will be many benefits to hiring a slip-and-fall lawyer to help you with your case. Your slip-and-fall lawyer can advise you on whether to file a claim, help gather evidence, negotiate for your best settlement, and represent you at trial if your matter goes that far.
While people may not consider slip and fall accidents serious, in reality, the injuries associated with these personal injury cases can be life-changing. There are more than 1 million emergency hospital visits per year due to slip and fall accidents, leading to various injuries. Amongst other slip and fall accident statistics, the most serious is that there are approximately 16,000 fatalities per year in the United States due to these incidents.
There are many causes for a person to slip and fall. These accidents can be caused by various acts of negligence, such as wet or slippery floors, uneven floor surfaces, or cables left on the floor. Seemingly harmless situations can lead to a fall, which has the potential to lead to serious harm.
A Slip and Fall Lawyer Will Help You Determine Whether You Should File a Claim
A slip-and-fall accident occurs when you trip or fall on somebody else’s property. For a successful claim, you will have to have sustained injuries, and the property owner must have been negligent in some way. In Illinois, slip and fall claims are based on negligence laws, meaning that the property owner who is negligent is considered at fault, and you pursue compensation against him or her through a premises liability claim.
To have a successful liability claim based on injuries that you have sustained in a slip and fall accident, there are several elements that need to be present. Your slip and fall lawyer will be able to advise you on whether the following elements were present, so you can make a successful claim:
- There was a hazard or dangerous condition on the premises at the time of the accident. You must be able to show that there was some sort of hazard somewhere on the premises at the time that you were injured. This could be a slippery floor, loose cables left on the floor, a loose floorboard, uneven flooring, or any other objects that can create a tripping hazard. It can also be damaged or missing guardrails on stairs, a failure to designate unsafe areas, such as construction sites, or any other form of defect on the premises which made it hazardous. If possible, when the accident occurs, you should take photographs of the hazard or defect, as evidence to prove your case.
- The property owner either knew or should have known of the hazard or defective condition. To establish this element, you can provide some proof that the property owner either actually knew or had reason to know of the dangerous condition. For example, if there was a spill in a store, and it was reported by an employee to the store owner, this should establish that the store owner knew of the hazard.
- The owner of the property did not take reasonable steps to protect people on the premises from the hazard. The owner may become aware of a hazard on his or her property. If he or she fails to rectify the hazard or warn people of the hazard, to prevent the possibility of injury, then he or she will likely be liable for any resulting injuries. Examples of this could be where store owners fail to either dry a spill in a store or erect signs warning people of the hazard. Other examples could be failing to maintain escalators, elevators, or walkways, resulting in dangerous conditions, or having poorly lit areas where victims are unable to see hazards and the potential for injury.
- As a result of the property owner’s failure to rectify the hazard, you suffered a slip and fall injury. To make a successful claim, you have to have suffered some form of personal injury or damages. If you have not suffered any damages, then you have nothing to claim from the property owner.
Hiring a slip and fall lawyer at the outset is advantageous for several reasons. A lawyer will be able to advise you whether you can establish these elements. If your case is valid, your attorney will be able to assist with collecting evidence and witness statements to prove your claim, as well as help you through the whole legal process, so you do not have to navigate any of it yourself.
An Attorney Will Protect Your Best Interests
In a slip-and-fall case, a lawyer can protect you by estimating the amount your claim is worth, to make sure that you do not settle for too little. Your lawyer can also communicate with insurance companies and liable parties on your behalf, and conduct thorough investigations to boost your chances of winning your case.
Your lawyer will investigate your claim by contacting the establishment where your slip and fall occurred and obtaining video evidence or an incident report. He or she may also contact potential witnesses. Any evidence obtained strengthens your case, and an experienced slip and fall accident lawyer in Illinois will ensure that your case is only pursued once you have enough evidence to prove it.
Evaluate Your Injuries to Maximize Your Settlement
What your case is worth depends on what type of injuries you have suffered, as well as the consequences going forward. If you do not have an experienced attorney, you may seek compensation that is lower than what your case is worth. A slip-and-fall lawyer will be able to evaluate your injuries and advise you accordingly on an appropriate amount of compensation to seek.
Negotiate With Insurance Companies
Insurance companies will often make a settlement offer soon after a victim has made a claim in an attempt to deal with the matter quickly. These initial offers are generally lower than your claim is worth. Having an attorney will help establish what your claim’s value, taking into account future losses, such as ongoing medical care or diminished earning capacity. Your lawyer can then negotiate with an insurance company on your behalf to ensure you receive a fair slip and fall accident settlement.
Your Premises Liability Lawyer Will Help Identify Liable Parties
Liability can be an issue in slip-and-fall accidents for two reasons. One issue is that you could slip and fall on a residential or commercial property, or properties owned by cities or towns, parks, or school districts. In these cases, it can be difficult to identify who the liable party is, and against whom to make your claim. In this situation, your lawyer will help identify who to hold liable for your injuries.
The second issue is that the liable party might make allegations regarding your fault in the accident. You need to establish that it was the property owner who was at fault for the situation, and thus liable, and not your carelessness that may have led to the accident.
Illinois is a comparative negligence state. If another person caused you injuries by his or her negligence, but you were also partly negligent, then your claim is reduced by an amount proportionate to your negligence. For example, you may slip and fall, suffering injuries that end up with medical bills of $10,000. You would normally be able to claim this amount as compensation. However, if you were also negligent and thus partly to blame, and it is found that your negligence contributed 20% to the accident, then your claim is reduced by 20%. In this case, you will only be entitled to $8,000 in compensation. If you are 51% or more to blame, then you cannot claim damages at all.
The property owner may present allegations of your negligence, such as:
- You were on some part of the property where people aren’t usually expected to be or aren’t allowed.
- You were not paying attention while you were walking. This could come in the form of allegations that you were on your phone and distracted.
- The footwear that you were wearing was not appropriate or dangerous for the circumstances.
- There was signage indicating the danger, the dangerous area was cordoned off, or there was some other form of steps taken to communicate the danger to you.
- The dangerous condition of the property or the hazard should have been apparent to you.
Your slip-and-fall lawyer will be able to rebut such arguments and present the evidence to an insurance company or the court. He or she will make the case that it was the property owner who was negligent, and not your carelessness, that caused your accident.
Chicago personal injury and workers’ compensation attorney Howard Ankin has a passion for justice and a relentless commitment to defending injured victims throughout the Chicagoland area. With decades of experience achieving justice on behalf of the people of Chicago, Howard has earned a reputation as a proven leader in and out of the courtroom. Respected by peers and clients alike, Howard’s multifaceted approach to the law and empathetic nature have secured him a spot as an influential figure in the Illinois legal system.