What You Should Know About Slip-and-Fall Accidents
Slip-and-fall accidents are a common occurrence. At some point in our lives, we have all taken a tumble, and in most cases, they are just embarrassing mishaps. But what happens when a fall leaves you with an injury that will require long-term medical care? What if you are unable to work? How will you pay your bills? Picking up the pieces after a serious slip-and-fall accident can be difficult. Not knowing what to do after someone else’s carelessness has left you with a debilitating injury can add to a traumatic experience. We are here to help. Our team of experienced lawyers can guide you through the legal process and get you the settlement you need to meet the challenges ahead.
There Can Be Many Causes for Slip-and-Falls
We all know about Alberta winters and what that means – snow and ice. A light dusting of snow on an icy surface can be treacherous, and snow that melts and refreezes. But the potential to suffer a significant injury due to someone else’s negligence can happen at any time of the year, both indoors and out. Sidewalks, driveways and steps can present a daily hazard when a property owner fails to take precautions. You can face harm in a place of business or someone’s home. Things that can lead to accidents include:
- uneven pavement or steps, surface cracks or gaps in sidewalks or pathways;
- lack of caution or warning signs;
- slippery surfaces such as wet floors or loose or broken flooring and torn carpet;
- poor lighting;
- missing or broken handrails on stairs;
- slippery debris, such as wet leaves or other material on pathways; and
- oily surfaces.
One of Five Falls Causes a Serious Injury
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one out of five falls results in a serious injury. These falls can result in head injuries and broken bones. The report states that these mishaps are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries, which may need extensive treatment. Soft tissue injuries are also common in such accidents, and a problem can arise with diagnosing such an injury since they do not show up in an X-ray. Without medical proof that an issue exists, it can be a daunting task to get the settlement you are entitled to, so it is essential to get sound legal advice.
With any injury, managing the pain is not always enough. Prescription drugs may make you feel better in the short term, but you may also need physiotherapy. Long-term treatment can be expensive, and if you are unable to work after a fall, you may not be able to pay for it.
Take Steps to Prove Liability
When you are injured in a slip and fall, you need to establish how the accident happened and who is to blame. After the fall, your mind is on the need to get relief from the pain. You may even need to be taken to the hospital. Your health is your priority, so get it if you urgently require medical attention. However, time is of the essence when collecting evidence, especially in a winter accident where surface conditions can rapidly change due to the weather.
Write down what happened while it is still fresh in your mind. Photos or videos are among the best weapons in proving liability. If possible, take pictures of the accident scene, taking note of the address. If you can’t do it, ask someone to take them for you. Get different angles showing exactly what contributed to your fall. If there are witnesses, ask them for a statement or contact information.
Property Occupier Has a Responsibility to Ensure Safety
To prove liability, you must demonstrate there was negligence on the part of the occupier of the property. Did they create the condition that led to your injury, or were they negligent in identifying and correcting a problem in a reasonable amount of time? The occupier must maintain a reasonable standard of care.
Did the business owner place a sign warning of a wet floor? Did a homeowner neglect to clean icy sidewalks or fail to keep walkways clear of hazardous objects?
In Alberta, a property owner has between 24 and 48 hours to clear sidewalks after a snowfall depending on the municipality. If it is not done, the owner can receive a warning or a fine of up to $100. If you fall on that icy sidewalk and hurt yourself, you may be able to sue the homeowner.
Several factors go into determining the outcome of a slip and fall settlement, such as who is ultimately liable, how those responsible contributed to the incident, the extent of the injuries, effect of employment due to the injury, future care needs and whether the injured party caused or contributed to the accident.
You Have a Part to Play
Just because you have been injured on someone else’s property does not necessarily ensure success in a lawsuit. Courts have ruled that the duty of care expected from a defendant in a slip and fall case is not perfect and will assess whether they made reasonable efforts to maintain their property. You also bear responsibility for your safety. If you purposely walk into traffic, you can expect to get hurt. The same concept applies if you act recklessly on someone else’s property and are injured.
Winter is a time when taking precautions is essential. Common sense is more important than fashion sense when it comes to safety. If you are wearing high heels or flat-soled dress shoes on an icy walkway and fall, that will impact your claim. Courts consider any failure to act cautiously when awarding a damage settlement.
Failing to Act in a Timely Fashion Can Nullify Your Claim
There are deadlines for filing a lawsuit in a slip-and-fall case in Alberta. If you are hurt at a private residence or a business, you must proceed with your claim within two years of the incident.
If you are suing a municipality, you must file your claim within 21 days. There are three exceptions: if death resulted from the accident; if you have a reasonable excuse for failing to notify the municipality and the municipality is not disadvantaged by the lack of notice; or if the municipality waives the notice requirement (in writing).
Acting quickly after an accident is essential.
AFTER AN ACCIDENT, CONTACT US
A personal injury lawyer can help guide you through your options and help you obtain the compensation you need to help you recover from any injuries. They can also make sure that your insurance company does not attempt to limit the compensation that you are owed. Schedule your Free Consultation by calling (403) 452-2011 or send a message to email@example.com. We will represent you on a contingency fee basis, so we do not get paid for our time and attention until we settle.