The answer to this question is—it depends. You should consider the extent of your injuries and whether your losses are substantial. Typically, a slip and fall claim will seek for medical expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering. In addition, you should factor in the costs of filing and pursuing a lawsuit (if the matter cannot be settled at the claims phase), plus legal fees. If you were hospitalized for an injury, required a lengthy recovery, and/or had to undergo surgery—your losses in those cases are likely to be much higher and a lawsuit may very well be in order. However, if you were in the emergency room and released within a short time period, the costs of pursuing a lawsuit might outweigh the potential recovery. In that scenario, the case might not be worth pursuing. Finally, consider the time and effort required from a lawsuit. Understand that going through a lawsuit can be relatively stressful and lengthy undertakings. After careful consideration of those items, you will have a much clearer picture of the potential benefits and disadvantages in order to decide whether a lawsuit would be worth pursuing.
Going up against a large chain is challenging, especially if you’re not familiar with the complexities of personal injury law. Big chains stores frequently employ large, intimidating law firms. On your own, you may never get the compensation that you need and deserve. On your own, you put yourself at a great disadvantage when you try and take on the large chain store and their legal counsel who have greater amount of experience and resources at their disposal. It doesn’t have to be that way. We are here to help you.
Slip-and-fall cases are generally treated under the category of personal injury. The majority of attorneys take personal injury cases on a “contingency.” This means that your attorney is paid a fee only if there is a recovery in the case. If there’s no recovery your attorney is paid nothing. So, with this arrangement, you pay nothing upfront in order to have an attorney prosecute the case on your behalf.
There are many components to the amount that a person is compensated for their injuries. The damages that a person recovers in a personal injury case, includes their future loss of income and earning capacity.
You might have heard that a store is automatically responsible for your injuries if you slipped, fell down, and were hurt while inside a store. However, this is a common misconception and is not necessarily true. For instance, consider if you were careless, clumsy or frantically running around the store looking to grab as many bargains as possible. In that case, does the blame belong to the business if you fell down? The answer is, no. The business can only be blamed if your slip and fall resulted from its breach of duty to you.
While older people may be more susceptible to slip-and-falls, anyone may fall victim if the conditions are ripe. Water, oil, or banana peels on the floor are going to be slippery, especially if left unattended to by the store for a prolonged period of time. This poses a danger that remains the same, regardless of one’s age.
The length of time required to resolve a slip and fall case will depend on many factors. One factor is the amount of time required for you to reach maximum medial improvement or for you to be released from your doctor’s care. Another factor is whether the matter may be resolved via settlement at the claims phase. The length of time required to complete the case will also depend on whether it proceeds to trial and when the Court will be available to hear the case. Whether the case is worth it will depend on the extent of your injuries and whether your losses are of a substantial nature. It’s only after careful consideration of the benefits and disadvantages of pursuing a lawsuit that we can decide on whether a case is worth pursuing.
1. Give a Recorded Statement. You may receive a request from an insurance claims adjuster to give them a recorded statement. The idea of a recorded statement seems harmless and innocent enough, that is, until you understand its use. The purpose of the recorded statement is to lock down in your own words your injuries, so that your injuries and the liability of the store where you injury occurred may be downplayed by the adjustor. There’s no benefit to you from providing a recorded statement and you are not required by law to give it to the store’s claims adjuster. So, DO NOT agree to the request for a recorded statement.
2. Delay in Getting Medical Treatment. It is important to have your injury and the events of the slip and fall documented. One way to make sure that this happens is to see your doctor immediately after the accident. Doing so lends credibility to your claim. In addition, it allows your doctor to develop a treatment and pain management plan so that you are on the road to recovery. So, DO NOT delay in seeking medical treatment.
3. Fail to Follow Your Doctor’s Instructions. Your treating doctor will provide you instructions for your treatment, which may include medication, rest, therapy, or referrals to specialists. It is extremely important that you follow your doctor’s recommendations, because 1) your doctor’s advice is your path to recovery from the injuries and 2) failing to follow your doctor’s instructions allows the claims adjuster an opening to suggest that your injury wasn’t that bad and/or that the long term effects of the injury resulted from your failure to follow through with your doctor’s treatment plan.
4. Dispose of Physical Evidence. You will want to preserve as much evidence as possible, because it may play a pivotal role in proving your case. Keep the clothes you were wearing at the time of the injury and do not wash them. They may have soaked up liquids, powders, or other material on the floor that contributed to your injury. If you took any pictures at the time of the injury—make sure you keep them. If you didn’t then you may want to go back to the store and take some pictures as soon as you can to retain evidence of the layout of displays and equipment as they likely were at the time of the injury. Keep all medical bills, medical reports, and receipts you receive.
5. Delay in Hiring an Attorney. The sooner you hire an attorney to represent you the sooner you will have someone to guide you through the insurance company’s tricks and protect your claims from the claims adjuster’s efforts to minimize your claims and manipulate you into a settlement.
6. Exaggerate Your Claims. Sometimes people believe they are helping their claim by exaggerating the severity of the injury. But, it would be ill advised to do so. Just tell it as it is. When you start lying about your injury you create a rift between the physical evidence of your injury and your version of the facts, which a good claims adjuster will be able to find. Once the adjuster believes your claims include come dishonesty it will become very difficult to settle and exposed lies may come back to defeat you at trial so that you might end up recovery nothing for the honest extent of your injuries.
7. Talk to the Store’s Representatives. Businesses will sometime try to investigate your claims beyond the adjuster’s investigation, so they might hire a private investigator to talk to you, have attorneys contact you directly, or other representatives reach out to you. They may even try to offer you a cash settlement outright. Do not make any agreements to settle your claim until you speak with a personal injury attorney and assess the fairness of the offer. Definitely do not offer information or any kind of statement to any representative of the business. Just like giving a claims adjuster a recorded statement, your words could come back to haunt you.
Social media can be disastrous in litigating a personal injury claim and I often recommend clients immediately cease posting on any social media about anything. Like giving the insurance company a recorded statement, you can’t take back the words or pictures you post. An off-the-cuff statement downplaying your injury or pictures of you doing something physical can provide evidence that your injuries were not as severe as you claim. Even posts that show you are cheerful can have the unintended effect of implying you aren’t in as much pain as you claim. After all, who could be that happy while in that much pain? That’s what the insurance company’s lawyers will ask. That social media content can come out in a lawsuit. Give your Facebook, Twitter, or other social media accounts a break at least until you hire a personal injury attorney who can give you more specific guidance on your social media use.
You want an attorney that has experience handling slip-and-fall cases. Slip-and-fall, while it is a type of personal injury, is uniquely different from other types of personal injury cases. The lawyer you should look for is one that handles ”slip and fall” or ”premises” liability.