A slip-and-fall or trip-and-fall accident can happen so swiftly that you don’t even know what’s happening until you’re on the floor.
Unfortunately, this can leave you with injuries, including broken bones, back or spine injuries, soft tissue injuries, dislocations, and even traumatic brain injury (TBI) if you hit your head.
Recovering from your accident could take weeks or months, during which you may be unable to work while still receiving medical bills.
How Can a Breckenridge Slip and Fall Attorney Help You Seek Compensation for Your Damages?
If you’re struggling with the financial, physical, and emotional ramifications of a slip-and-fall accident, you may wonder if you have any options to cover your expenses.
Often, a Breckenridge slip and fall lawyer can help you pursue damages from the liable party or their insurance carrier. We’ll work to sort out who may have been responsible and negotiate with the insurance company to ensure you receive a fair settlement.
How Do We Determine Fault in a Slip and Fall Accident?
Many people unnecessarily absorb the costs of a slip-and-fall accident because they mistakenly think it was their fault they fell. But when we ask them about the accident, they often say they don’t know what happened.
Typically slip and fall situations occur because you don’t see what made you fall – until you’ve already fallen.
When the fall occurred on someone else’s property, the owner might be liable if their negligence caused the injury. But how does negligence cause a person to fall?
Here are some common ways a property owner could be negligent in a slip-and-fall accident:
The Owner Failed to Correct a Hazardous Situation in a Timely Manner
The last part is crucial. Did the owner or manager know, or should they have known, there was a hazard?
If so, did they take care of it in a reasonable amount of time?
For instance, if you slip and fall in a grocery store twenty seconds after another customer spills a drink, it’s unlikely that the store was negligent.
They might argue that none of the employees could have known the drink was spilled so quickly, and even if an employee witnessed the spill, they wouldn’t have had time to fix it in twenty seconds.
But what if that spilled drink was still there two hours later? Chances are someone who worked in the store should have seen it, cleaned it up, and placed a Wet Floor sign to warn others.
In this case, the store may have been negligent. Proving how long a hazardous condition existed before your accident is essential in these cases, and your Breckenridge slip and fall attorney will work to gather evidence to show the property owner’s negligence.
Another example of a hazardous situation would be if a customer slips and falls on ice in a parking lot. Ice and snow are common hazards in Breckenridge, and a property owner has a duty to shovel or clear this winter precipitation from walkways in a timely manner.
If they didn’t do so, and you subsequently slipped and fell on the ice in their parking lot or doorway, the owner may have been negligent.
The Property Owner Failed to Warn of a Hazardous Situation
Some situations are continuously hazardous. For example, a business that operates a pool in the summer always has a potential hazard.
Typically, you will see signs around the pool area cautioning against running near the pool. That’s because it’s impossible to keep the area around a pool dry for long with people entering and exiting the pool and dripping water on the ground.
The business owner can point out that they warned people to be careful around the pool, where the pavement might be wet, so they were not negligent.
A similar situation could occur with ice and snow. If a business is open during an ongoing snow or ice storm, it would be challenging to keep the parking lot and walkways clear, even with frequent shoveling.
In this case, the store owner could take reasonable care to prevent injuries by placing a sign warning customers the pavement might be slick or that ice is possible. The sign will also be helpful when the ice or snow melts, creating another hazard in the form of wet pavement.
The Property Owner Did Not Address Additional Hazardous Conditions
So far, we’ve mostly talked about hazards on the floor or ground that could cause you to fall – a puddle, ice, snow, or any kind of debris you might trip on. Sometimes bumpy or ripped carpets can also be a risk.
But in other cases, poor lighting could be the problem.
If you can easily see the hazard, it usually isn’t a problem. But if your guests use a poorly-lit stairwell, they could slip or trip because they fail to see the bottom step or another typical feature that shouldn’t cause an issue.
Other potential dangers that a property owner might overlook include the following:
- Lack of handrails on stairs. Regardless of the reason a person slipped or tripped, having a handrail can help prevent a serious fall.
- Cords or wires running along the floor. If possible, these should be routed along walls or areas where people are less likely to step. Property owners or managers might also take precautions by taping cords down, using bright lighting to make them more visible, or putting up a “Watch Your Step” sign.
- Failure to fix wrinkled floor mats or throw rugs. These can easily get bunched up or flipped over and become a hazard, but using adhesives to keep them in place can help reduce the risk.
- Problems with overwaxing a floor. Usually, a store employee will mop the floor at night, put out a Wet Floor sign, and remove it in the morning. But sometimes the floor needs a more intense cleaning, or the manager wants it to look less dull. In these cases, the owner or manager might hire a floor waxing service. The problem comes in if the service uses too much wax and some areas of the floor are slippery as a result.
What Should You Do if You Believe the Property Owner Was Negligent or You Aren’t Sure?
First, please seek medical care for your injuries, even if you don’t think they’re serious.
Sometimes people believe their fall was minor, but within a few days or weeks, they experience worsening pain or discomfort. Additionally, it’s a good idea to take pictures of any visible injuries and try to get the names and contact information of anyone who witnessed your fall.
As we mentioned earlier, negligence often isn’t apparent to the injured person.
Even if you aren’t sure what happened when you fell, it’s worthwhile to speak with a Breckenridge slip and fall lawyer to explore the details of your accident and your options for recovering damages, such as medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, permanent disability, and more.
In many cases, we can negotiate a fair settlement from the property owner’s business or homeowner’s insurance policy.
What if You Were Hurt in a Slip and Fall at Work?
Falls at work are a common problem, and slip-and-falls are the main cause of injuries that lead to missed days at work. If you were working at the time of your accident, you would need to go through the Worker’s Compensation system.
The good news is that Worker’s Comp claims don’t require you to prove your employer was negligent or even that you weren’t at fault. However, there are still other reasons a Worker’s Comp claim can be denied.
For instance, the insurance adjuster handling the claim might believe you were injured somewhere other than at work or that your injuries aren’t as bad as you say. A Breckenridge slip and fall lawyer can help refute any claims the adjuster makes in an attempt to deny coverage.
Another downside to Worker’s Compensation is that your damages are usually limited to coverage of medical bills and two-thirds of your usual pay while you are out of work. In a few cases, an injured worker may qualify for permanent disability benefits.
While Worker’s Compensation replaces your right to sue your employer for your injuries, there are a few cases where the injured party has a case against a third party. For example, if you slipped on an overwaxed floor at your workplace, the floor buffing company might be liable.
How to Get Help From a Breckenridge Slip and Fall Law Firm
When you’re injured after a slip and fall accident, you may be inundated with medical bills while unable to work due to your injuries. At the Olson Law Firm, we know how hard recovering from a slip and fall accident can be, and we want to help however we can.
Please contact us at (720) 730-4325 for a free consultation about your case. We’ll review what happened, investigate further if necessary, answer your questions, and explain your options for seeking compensation.