Don’t ever let anyone tell you that a slip and fall accident is a small problem. Every year, slip and falls account for over 1 million hospital visits. Every year, more than 15,000 people die from falls. When they don’t result in fatalities, they can result in disabling injuries.
If your slip or fall was the result of someone else’s negligence, then you have options. You can reach out to the team at the Law Office of Tony Merchant. We have decades of experience handling cases just like yours, and we’re ready to help you recover the compensation that you’ll need to pay for hospital bills, replace lost wages, or meet other accident-related expenses.
The legal term for a slip and fall injury case is a “premises liability” case. The theory is simple: if you own a piece of property you must maintain that property in a way that is healthy and safe for any visitors who might arrive.
This means addressing problems like loose stair rails, popped floor boards, cracked sidewalks, or spills in a timely fashion. Ideally the property owner fixes these; at a minimum, they should post warnings.
There are of course a variety of other ways to get hurt on a property besides a slip, trip, or a fall. They’re just the most common ways that it happens: thus the name “slip and fall cases.”
Keep in mind you do not have a case every time you might hurt yourself when you’re out in public. A slip and fall case is very much about negligence. We all take risks when we go out into the world and sometimes we have to absorb those losses. Yet if your particular accident was a result of one of these failures, we can help.
Some of the most common slip and fall injuries include:
Again: slips and falls are nothing to play with! The accident itself may sound small and minor, but in reality it can have major consequences.
Many of the cases we handle involve some common themes. For example, many of our clients have slipped and fell on liquid spills that should have been cleaned up faster than they were. Lax cleaning schedules or employees who don’t respond in a timely fashion can both cause slip and floor accidents.
We’ve also seen cases where employees were doing their jobs, but failed to post that floors had been freshly mopped or waxed.
Yet there are other types of cases as well. Loose stair railings or stairs in poor repair. Cracked sidewalks. Cases where the lighting was poor.
The specifics don’t matter. The question is whether the condition that caused your fall could be corrected, and whether it was corrected or posted about quickly enough to indicate the landowner was pursuing their responsibilities in this regard.
Any property owner may be held liable for a slip and fall accident.
This includes corporations that might own the property, such as the companies that own your local supermarket or hardware store. It also includes landlords or office owners. If they aren’t maintaining their property and you get hurt as a result, then you have a case.
The companies themselves rarely pay of course. The property insurance usually pays, but of course they’re not eager to do so. They may offer you a settlement without a lawsuit, but it will rarely be enough to cover your expenses.
In many cases, pursuing a personal injury lawsuit will be the only way to get the compensation you deserve.
The amount of time a condition existed will play a big role in helping you prove a negligence case.
The defense will almost certainly try to make the case that the landowner did not have enough time to respond to the defect or hazard that caused your slip and fall.
In Arizona, you may also having to prove that you did not contribute to the accident. For example, if you go and walk through an area where hazard signs are posted, Arizona courts may rule you assumed the risks and knew what you were doing. In that case negligence may not be a factor, or you may end up with a smaller settlement thanks to Arizona’s comparative negligence statutes.
A slip and fall case can take anywhere from 18 to 24 months after filing to resolve. Note that you also need to pay attention to the statute of limitations. You only have 2 years from the date of the accident to file your claim.
92% of cases settle out of court. These are the cases that take a lot longer.
Usually it’s prudent to start the case as early as possible. The earlier you involve your attorney, the stronger your case is likely to be. The length of your medical recovery can pay a role as well, as you need to reach MMI, or maximum medical improvement, before your attorney starts trying to negotiate a settlement on your behalf. Otherwise it will be impossible to discern the true extent of your losses.
Every slip and fall case is different. The average case is worth about $30,000, but there have been slip and fall cases worth $18 million. Much depends on the facts of your case, the extent of your injuries, who you’re holding liable for the accident and what complicating or mitigating factors exist.
Every slip and fall settlement will contain two types of damages. Some will include a third type.
The first type is economic damages.
Economic damages cover your medical bills and your lost wages. If you have long-term care bills they will generally cover your projected costs. If your slip and fall accident is severe enough to disable you for good it may also include a disability award for your loss of earning capacity.
Most economic damages are straightforward: if you have a $5000 emergency room bill then you have $5000 in economic damages and that’s pretty difficult to dispute. It’s the projected expenses that require some negotiations.
The second type of damages are noneconomic damages. These are your pain and suffering awards. In Arizona these are generally calculated using a multiplier which is based on the severity of your injuries. The most severe injuries are assigned a multiplier of 5. The least severe are assigned a multiplier of 1.
There is no chart or guideline in Arizona for setting this multiplier. This is, again, usually up to your attorney’s negotiation skills. Even negotiating your multiplier up from 1 to 2 is a major boon in terms of how much money you receive. The multiplier is applied to your economic damages to come up with the number for your economic damages.
Thus, if you have $10,000 in economic damages, and your multiplier is 2, you will receive another $20,000 in pain and suffering damages for a total settlement of $30,000.
The third type of damages are rarer. These are punitive damages. These are applied when a property owner has engaged in deliberate or truly egregious negligence that breaks laws. Judges are generally skeptical of awarding punitive damages in this state, but they may still apply in your case.
The actions you take directly after your slip and fall case can have an immediate impact on the strength of your case. While it may not be easy to remember what to do in the heat of the moment, try to take the following steps.
First, take photographs of the scene and your injuries if you can. Take way more photographs than you think you’ll need. Record the shoes you’re wearing. Record the local conditions. Record exactly what your injuries look like. Get it all.
Second, get the names and numbers of any witnesses to the accident.
Third, report the accident to the owner of the property. For example, if you’re in a grocery store then you’ll need to fill out an incident report with the store manager. Get a copy of the report.
Throughout this process it’s vital to be careful what you say. Don’t say something like, “Oh I’m so clumsy,” or “oh I’m so stupid.” Rest assured that the defense lawyers will use this against you later. They will try to spin these very human statements into an admission of fault.
Next, get medical attention. Follow all the doctor’s recommendations both during and after the visit. “I’m okay,” and “I’m fine” are two statements you do not want to utter at any point. Again, the defense will try to use these statements against you later, by claiming you’re not as hurt as you’re claiming to be.
When you change clothes and shoes put them in a plastic bag and preserve them. They’re now evidence in your case.
Finally, reach out to an attorney as soon as you are physically capable of doing so. The earlier you involve an attorney the stronger your case is likely to be.
First, we can file the claim and deal with the property insurance company on your behalf. This can be a major advantage as the property insurance company is going to do its best to convince you to make statements or take actions which can harm your case.
We’ll also interview witnesses and gather evidence on your behalf, using that information to help you prove that the property owner was negligent, and that negligence led directly to you taking financial losses. This is harder than it sounds and requires a complex understanding of the law.
When the case goes into a settlement conference your attorney will be responsible for negotiating on your behalf. We can help you evaluate whether or not a settlement offer is fair, and we can use all of our sharp negotiation skills to get you as much money as possible.
Finally, we’re here to protect your interests if the case goes to trial. Arizona juries are very skeptical about personal injury cases and claims. You’ll need a solid narrative and a clear cut case if you want to win. We will tell the story that gets you paid.
Throughout the process, the defense will be trying to demonstrate why they shouldn’t be held accountable for your accident. We will fight tirelessly to ensure they are unable to slip away from their obligations to you.
When you call the Law Offices of Tony Merchant you’ll be putting your trust in an attorney with 3 decades of professional experience with personal injury law. We’ve won billions of dollars for our clients, and will fight hard to protect your interests. Mr. Merchant has completed hundreds of personal injury and class action lawsuit cases. He leaves no stone unturned.
He’s also won numerous awards for excellence in his field, has been published in prestigious journals, and has a long track record of serving his community.
To get started schedule a case review by calling (480) 581-8801. Our offices are located in Tuscon, but we serve clients throughout the state of Arizona, and we’re ready to help.