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Slip and fall accidents are very common both in Arizona and the U.S. Because of how often people slip and fall, many people view these types of accidents as non-serious. However, slip and fall accidents can be very serious and even deadly. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), falls are the leading cause of preventable, injury-related deaths among older adults. Regardless of age, anyone can be seriously injured when they slip and fall.
People can suffer fractures, spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), and other serious injuries when they fall. If your accident and injuries resulted because of someone else’s negligence, you should speak to the slip and fall lawyers Mesa at Lamber Goodnow. An attorney at our firm can analyze the facts and circumstances of your case and explain whether you have a viable slip and fall claim. If your claim has legal merits, we will thoroughly investigate what happened and work with experts to gather and present evidence that supports your claim. By being thorough, our attorneys are frequently able to recover maximum compensation for our clients through settlement agreements or jury verdicts.
Slip and Fall Accidents and Premises Liability Law
Slip and fall accidents fall under the area of Arizona’s civil tort laws called premises liability. Under the legal theory of premises liability, property owners and possessors are legally obligated to maintain their premises in a safe condition to reduce the risk that visitors with specific statuses will be injured.
Arizona property owners and possessors owe varying degrees of duty to people who are present on their premises based on their statuses. While a property owner or possessor owes a heightened duty of care to invitees and licensees, they only owe a minimal duty of care to trespassers. For trespassers, the only duty property owners owe is to avoid intentionally causing injuries by setting traps, for example.
The highest duty of care is owed by property owners to invitees. Invitees are people who are expressly invited to the property for the benefit of the owner and might include customers who are shopping in a store, for example. Property owners owe a duty of care to invitees to maintain their premises in a safe condition and to provide reasonable warnings about any dangerous conditions the owner knows or has reason to know about. When a property owner learns about a dangerous condition, they must take action to correct it to prevent invitees from being injured.
In a slip and fall claim, the property owner or possessor has violated the duty of care it owed to the victim by failing to inspect the property to discover dangers, failing to post warnings about dangerous conditions, or failing to fix hazards that they knew about or reasonably should have known about.
Common Examples of Hazardous Conditions That Can Cause Slip and Fall Accidents
Some of the common types of dangers that can cause slip and fall accidents include the following:
- Spills allowed to remain pooled on the floor
- Slippery floor surfaces
- Objects or debris left on sidewalks or in aisles
- Unfilled and unmarked potholes in parking lots
- Broken pavement on sidewalks and parking lots
- Loose or broken floor tiles
- Lack of posted warnings
- Broken steps or missing handrails
- Poor lighting
- Uneven sidewalks
Types of Injuries in Slip and Fall Accidents
More than one million Americans visit emergency departments each year because of injuries they suffer in slip and fall accidents. These types of accidents can cause serious injuries, including the following types:
- Back injuries
- Hip fractures
- Fractured wrists, arms, or elbows
- Spinal cord injuries
- Paraplegia or quadriplegia
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Dislocated joints
- Strains and sprains
- Soft tissue injuries
- Leg or ankle fractures
- Knee injuries
While you might fall when you are visiting someone else’s property, that won’t necessarily mean that you will have a viable slip and fall accident claim. For example, if you tripped over something obvious because you failed to pay attention to where you were walking, the owner likely won’t be liable. Similarly, if you fell because you were acting recklessly such as running through a crowded aisle, the owner likely will not have to pay damages for your injuries. By contrast, if the property owner failed to correct a dangerous condition that caused your injuries and that the owner knew about or should reasonably have known about, you might have grounds to file a claim.
Determining liability for a slip and fall accident requires a fact-specific analysis and a careful review of the evidence. Your slip and fall attorney Mesa will gather and review the evidence, including maintenance and inspection logs, incident reports, store surveillance video, eyewitness statements, and your medical records. Analyzing the evidence and reports is necessary for your attorney to determine the legal merits of your potential claim and who should be named as a defendant in your lawsuit.
Negligence in Slip and Fall Accidents
To win your premises liability claim, you will have to prove that the property owner or operator was negligent. Plaintiffs have the burden of proof to present evidence to prove each negligence element by a preponderance of the evidence. The elements you will need to prove in a slip and fall claim include the following:
- You were lawfully present.
- The property owner owed a duty of care to maintain its property in a reasonably safe condition or to warn you about any known hazards.
- The property owner violated the duty of care.
- The property owner’s violation of the duty of care caused your accident and injuries.
- You suffered losses as a result.
You must meet your burden of proof for each of these elements. If you fail to prove one of the elements, you won’t be able to recover compensation.
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FAQs: Slip and Fall Accidents
People who are injured or whose loved ones suffer serious harm after slipping and falling on someone else’s property often have questions about their potential claims. The Mesa injury lawyers at Lamber Goodnow have compiled answers to some of the most commonly asked questions we receive to help you understand your potential claim.
Q: Report What Happened
A: You should immediately report your slip and fall accident to the property owner or operator. If you fall while visiting a store, report what happened to the manager. The manager will then write an incident report to detail what happened. Make sure to request a copy of the report.
Q: Collect Evidence
A: If you can do so, use your smartphone to photograph where you fell. Make sure to get pictures of the dangerous condition that caused your fall and any visible injuries you sustained. Ask anyone who saw what happened for their names and contact information so that they can be contacted later by your attorney.
Q: Seek Immediate Medical Care
A: You should see your doctor as soon as possible after your accident. Some injuries have delayed symptoms but can still be serious. By getting medical attention immediately, you can facilitate your recovery while also preserving your ability to file a compensation claim.
Q: Don’t Apologize
A: Many people have the urge to apologize when they are injured in accidents. Don’t say you are sorry for your accident or accept blame for what happened. When you report what happened, stick to the facts and be careful with what you say about what occurred.
Q: Avoid Social Media
A: If you file a slip and fall claim, the defense lawyers will likely pore over your posts on social media to try to find evidence that you are malingering and were not injured as seriously as you claim. The best thing you can do is to stay off social media completely while your claim is pending. If you can’t stay away from social media, don’t post anything about your accident. Make sure to not post pictures or stories that the defense could use against you. For example, if you claim that you suffered injuries that affected your mobility, photos of your vacation to the mountains with your family could be harmful to your claim.
Q: Keep Thorough Documentation
A: Keep copies of everything you believe might be relevant to your claim in a file. Keep a copy of the incident report, your medical bills, medical records, wage statements demonstrating income losses, the photographs you took of the accident scene and your injuries, and any other evidence you have gathered. Make sure to write down what happened as soon as possible after your accident while your memory is still fresh. Keep a journal of your pain and how your injuries affect your ability to participate in routine activities.
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