While falling to the ground is something we all avoid, it happens to almost everyone at some point. While some falls are pure accidents, others may occur due to negligent maintenance by a property owner or occupant. If you or a loved one suffered injuries in a slip and fall accident, the property owner or occupant may be responsible for your losses.
Contact a slip and fall lawyer at Campbell & Smith, PLC, today to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your case.
Introduction to Slip and Fall Actions
Slip and fall cases arise from the legal principle of premises liability. Premises liability means that an owner or occupant is liable for some accidents that occur on their property. A common form of premises liability claim is a slip and fall action. Although a slip and fall accident may seem unlikely, falls cause more than 8 million emergency room visits annually. A slip and fall injury can happen in any of the following circumstances:
- Tripping over obstructions in a parking lot,
- Slipping on exposed spills inside a grocery store, or
- Falling into a hole in the floor without cautionary signs.
If the conditions causing your fall were caused by the property owner or occupant’s negligence, they may be liable for any losses from your injury.
Understanding Liability in Slip and Fall Cases
Generally, property owners and occupants are generally responsible for some injuries on their property. They are liable for injuries caused by their own negligence. However, owners and occupants are not liable for injuries to someone trespassing on their property.
Someone legally on another person’s property can seek damages for a slip-and-fall claim, but first, they must prove the owner or occupant was negligent.
West Virginia’s Open and Obvious Doctrine protects property owners from liability when a visitor is injured by an open, obvious, and conspicuous hazard.
What Steps to Take After a Slip and Fall Accident
The shame and embarrassment accompanying a public fall might tempt you to leave the area immediately and never return. Unfortunately, you will likely lose any relevant evidence for your slip-and-fall claim if you leave the store without preserving information about your injuries.
Notify a Responsible Party
After a slip and fall accident, you should inform the property owner, occupant, or manager about the circumstances of your fall and potential injuries. This allows them to obtain surveillance footage, if available, and create a report about the incident. You can document your report to the responsible party by requesting a copy of their report or recording the interaction on a cell phone.
Gather Relevant Evidence
The circumstances of your fall will start to deteriorate right away. Collecting information at the scene is critical by taking photos and videos of the location where you fell, gathering statements from witnesses, or requesting surveillance footage.
Once you leave the scene, there is no guarantee that the property owner will not fix the condition that caused your fall before you can document it.
Seek Medical Attention
Your safety and well-being is the primary concern after a slip and fall accident. You should seek medical attention right away if you suffer an injury. Going to the emergency room or an urgent care clinic will create documentation of your injuries from the fall. The medical records from your visit will help establish proof of the injuries you suffered and the costs you incurred for your slip-and-fall case.
Importance of Hiring a Slip and Fall Lawyer in Charleston, WV
Negligence is a complex concept that even experienced attorneys struggle to explain. A slip and fall attorney at Campbell & Smith, PLC, can explain the complexities of proving negligence and help prepare a strategy for your case.
How to Prove Negligence in a Slip and Fall Case
Negligence comprises four parts: duty of care, breach of duty, causation, and damages. You must prove all four elements to prevail in your claim.
Owners owe individuals they invite onto their premises a duty of care to keep it reasonably safe. A property owner can breach their duty in several ways, including:
- Failing to remove debris from walkways,
- Not including adequate lighting in stairways,
- Leaving drink or food spills exposed, or
- Failing to warn of open and obvious dangers.
If someone suffers an injury as a result of the property owner’s breach, the injured party can bring a lawsuit against the property owner to recover damages. However, you must prove that the property owner’s negligence caused your injury.
Compensation in Slip and Fall Lawsuits
The settlement for a slip and fall claim is determined by calculating the losses you suffered due to the injury. Damages can include:
- Lost wages,
- Property damage,
- Loss of future earning capacity,
- Pain and suffering,
- Physical impairment,
- Loss of enjoyment of life,
- Medical expenses,
- Rehabilitation costs, and
- Emotional distress.
This is a non-exhaustive list of forms of damages you can recover in a premises liability claim.
Why Choose a Charleston, WV Slip and Fall Attorney at Campbell & Smith, PLC
Campbell & Smith is a full-service law firm, meaning we handle a wide variety of types of cases. Many legal issues involve multiple areas of law and our expansive knowledge gives us an advantage in representing our clients.
The Statute of Limitations for Slip and Fall Cases in West Virginia
A premises liability claim is a form of personal injury claim. Personal injury claims in West Virginia are subject to a two-year statute of limitations.
Contact Our Charleston, WV, Slip and Fall Lawyers at Campbell & Smith, PLC
Our team of attorneys at Campbell & Smith, PLC, extends its services to clients living throughout the state of West Virginia. We prioritize obtaining the best outcome possible for our clients, whether that includes injunctive relief or financial compensation. A Charleston, WV premises liability lawyer at our firm can work with you to resolve your issue without stepping foot inside a courtroom. If not, we will not hesitate to take your case to trial to obtain the compensation you deserve. Contact our office today to talk to a member of our team.