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Many people slip, trip, and fall each year. While everyone trips or slips and falls at some point, fall accidents can be very serious or deadly. Researchers report that fall accidents are the leading cause of unintentional injuries resulting in death among adults ages 65 and older. Slip and fall accidents can also cause serious injuries or deaths among younger adults and children. While some cases involving falls do not result from negligence, others happen because of the negligent acts or omissions of property owners or operators.

Slip and fall accidents can cause severe injuries, including traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), hip fractures, broken arms, fractured wrists, spinal cord injuries, and more. If you suffered serious injuries after falling because of a dangerous, uncorrected condition on the property of someone else, you should talk to an experienced Chandler slip and fall lawyer at Lamber Goodnow. Our attorneys can review what happened in your case and explain whether your claim has legal merits. If we agree to accept your case, we will conduct an in-depth investigation to identify all of the contributing factors that led to your accident and gather evidence to support your liability claim. Because of the thoroughness of our approach, our Chandler slip and fall accident attorneys often successfully recover maximal compensation for our clients through settlements and verdict awards.

Understanding Premises Liability Law and Slip and Falls

Arizona slip and fall claims involve an area of the state’s tort law called premises liability. Under this legal theory, property owners and operators must maintain their property in a reasonably safe condition to prevent lawful visitors from suffering injuries.

Property owners and operators owe different duties to people who are on their premises based on the status of the visitors. The lowest duty of care is owed to trespassers. When a person trespasses on someone else’s property, the only duty the property owner owes is to not intentionally cause injuries to them by setting traps.

By contrast, property owners owe a higher duty of care to invitees and licensees. Invitees are people who visit the property of another at the owner’s express invitation for the owner’s benefit. For example, people who go to retail or grocery stores to shop are present at the invitation of the business to benefit the business by spending money. Licensees are people who are present on the property of another as social guests or to perform work as authorized by law. For example, postal carriers, meter readers, package deliverers, and others are owed a duty of care by the property owners.

When invitees are present, the property owner must maintain their premises in a reasonably safe and hazard-free condition. If the owners discover a dangerous condition, they must warn the invitees about its existence and take immediate steps to correct it so that people will not suffer foreseeable injuries by slipping or tripping and falling because of the hazard. Property owners also must regularly inspect their premises to discover dangers. If a property owner should have known about a dangerous condition through a reasonable inspection but failed to inspect the premises, they can still be liable to pay damages in a premises liability lawsuit.

Common Causes of Slip and Fall Accidents

People can slip or trip and fall because of many different types of conditions or objects. Some of the most common causes of slip and fall accidents include the following:

  • Spills allowed the remain on the floor
  • Broken sidewalk slabs
  • Potholes in parking lots
  • Torn carpet
  • Loose tiles
  • Broken or missing handrails on staircases
  • Broken steps on staircases
  • Debris left on the floor
  • Objects left in aisles by store personnel
  • Slick floor surfaces
  • Lack of warnings

Common Injuries in Slip and Falls

Millions of people are injured in slip and fall accidents each year. According to 2017 data from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, more than 8.6 million people in the U.S. visited emergency departments for injuries sustained in falls during that year alone.

Some of the common types of injuries that happen in slip and fall accidents include the following:

  • Broken hips
  • Ankle sprains and strains
  • Knee injuries
  • Pelvic fractures
  • Broken wrists and arms
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Joint dislocations
  • Broken ankles or legs
  • Permanent paralysis
  • Soft tissue injuries

Liability in a Slip and Fall Accident

Even though you might have been injured in a fall while you were on someone else’s property, that doesn’t automatically mean that the property owner or operator will be liable. Some falls happen because people were not paying attention to where they were walking. For example, if you were texting on your phone and tripped over something open and obvious in a store, the owner likely will not be liable in a slip and fall claim. Similarly, if your injuries were caused by a fall after you were engaging in reckless behavior such as running through a crowded store aisle, you likely won’t have a viable legal claim.

On the other hand, if you fell because a store employee left spilled vegetable oil on the floor for an hour without cleaning it up, the owner might be liable. This is because an oil spill reasonably should have been discovered by the owner or the employees through a regular inspection.

To determine liability, a slip and fall attorney at Lamber Goodnow will carefully analyze the evidence and the reports to assess the facts. Your Chandler slip and fall attorney will gather relevant evidence, including surveillance video, accident reports, inspection logs, medical records, and eyewitness statements. They might send a formal letter to the property owner to preserve evidence that could otherwise be lost. For example, many stores re-record footage over surveillance video after a short time. Sending a notice to preserve evidence can ensure that the store won’t lose or spoliate any evidence that could be important to your case. By analyzing the evidence in your case, your attorney can determine liability and whether your claim has legal merits.

Negligence and Slip and Fall Accidents

Slip and fall claims typically involve negligence causes of action. As the plaintiff, you will have the burden of proving your case by a preponderance of the evidence. You must present evidence to prove each of the following elements of a slip and fall claim:

  • You were an invitee or licensee.
  • The property owner had a duty to maintain the property in a safe condition to protect you from foreseeable injuries.
  • The property owner failed to meet the duty of care.
  • The property owner’s breach of the duty of care caused your slip and fall accident and injuries.
  • You suffered calculable damages.

You will have to prove each element by a preponderance of the evidence. If you prove some, but not all, of the elements, you won’t win your claim.

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FAQs: Slip and Fall Accidents

Many people who suffer injuries in slip and fall accidents in Chandler, Arizona have questions about their cases and their rights. Here are some frequently asked questions and answers to them from the slip and fall lawyers at Lamber Goodnow.

Q: What if I Was Injured at a Friend’s Home During a Visit?

A: Many people worry about filing a slip and fall claim against a friend or family member when they slip and fall during a social visit. However, if you file a slip and fall claim, your friend’s homeowner’s insurance policy will likely cover your losses instead of your friend having to pay for them.

Social guests can sometimes recover compensation when they slip and fall during a visit, depending on how the incident and injuries happened. A homeowner must warn social guests about any dangerous conditions or repair them when the conditions are hidden or difficult to recognize. For example, if you fell after you tripped over a hole in the floor that your friend concealed with a rug to make it less unsightly, you might be able to recover compensation if you weren’t warned about it.

Q: What Should I Do After Slipping and Falling in a Store?

A: If you slip and fall in a store and are injured, do the following things to protect your potential claim:

  • Report the incident to the manager.
  • Take photos of the condition that caused your fall.
  • Note any surveillance cameras in the vicinity that might have caught your accident.
  • Ask for the names and contact information of any witnesses who saw what happened.
  • Do not accept blame or apologize for falling.
  • Ask the manager for a copy of the incident report.
  • Seek immediate medical care for a diagnosis and treatment.
  • Follow all follow-up treatment recommendations.
  • Consult a Chandler slip and fall lawyer atLamber Goodnowas soon as possible for help with your claim.

Q: When Should I Contact a Chandler Slip and Fall Attorney?

A: Arizona has a statute of limitations for all personal injury cases, including slip and fall lawsuits. This statute is found at ARS 12-542 and places a deadline for filing a lawsuit of two years from the date of your accident and injury. While you might think that you have plenty of time to contact an attorney after your accident, two years can fly by quickly when you are dealing with recovering from your injuries and your losses.

In some cases, the statute of limitations will be shorter than two years. For example, if you slipped and fell while walking on a publicly maintained sidewalk because of broken pavement that the city knew about or reasonably should have known about, the statute of limitations for filing your claim against the city is only six months under the Arizona Tort Claims Act.

However, there are some exceptions to the statute of limitations. For example, if you were a minor when you were injured in a slip and fall accident, the statute of limitations will be tolled until you reach age 18. You would then have two years or until your 20th birthday to file a claim.

An attorney can help you understand the statute of limitations and how it might affect your potential claim. However, it is best not to wait until the limitations period has almost expired. Important evidence, including surveillance video, reports, and witnesses, can be lost as time passes. You might also accidentally say something to the at-fault party’s insurance company that could harm your ability to recover compensation. For these reasons, you should contact a lawyer as soon as possible after you are injured in a slip and fall accident on someone else’s property.

Q: What if I Was Partly at Fault?

A: Many people blame themselves for falling. However, you might not have been at fault for causing your accident. An attorney will carefully review the evidence to determine liability for your fall accident and assess the merits of your claim.

Under ARS 12-2505, Arizona follows a system of pure comparative fault. This means that each person is responsible for their degree of fault. Under this statute, being partially responsible for your accident will not be a bar to your recovery of damages. However, if you were partly at fault, your damages will be reduced by the percentage of fault you held. For example, if you are determined to have been 20% at fault and are awarded a gross verdict of $100,000, your net verdict would be $80,000.

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