If you slip and fall in a public place, or at someone’s house, you may be entitled to seek compensation. Unfortunately, slipping and falling has gotten a negative reputation in pop culture, cited as an example of frivolous litigation. However, slipping and falling can be both extremely dangerous to the person who falls and the clear fault of the person responsible for maintaining the premises.
That said, not every “slip and fall” case warrants a lawsuit. So how can you tell whether you should seek action or not?
Talking to a Lawyer
If you’ve slipped and fallen, and have sustained an injury, it may be in your best interest to talk to a lawyer no matter what. Most lawyers will be willing to give you a consultation for free, to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of your case, as well as your odds of success. They may provide you with legal counsel, and advise you whether it’s worth your time, effort, and money to initiate a lawsuit. Listen to what they have to say before you make a decision.
Factors to Consider
That said, before you talk to a lawyer, you can think about the nature of your case. In a slip and fall lawsuit, you’ll typically seek compensation for damages; this includes any medical costs you’ve sustained, any lost wages you’ve had, and compensation for additional pain and suffering you’ve been through. In addition, remember that you’ll need to prove in a court of law that these injuries you’ve sustained were a direct result of someone else’s negligent action or inaction.
Consider these factors before you move forward:
- The nature of your injuries. First, consider the nature of your injuries. If you slipped and merely scraped your knee, you’re probably not going to walk away victorious in a lawsuit. If your fall resulted in broken bones, a neck or spinal injury, or something similarly serious, you should take the prospect of legal action seriously.
- The extent of your injuries. You also need to think about the extent of your injuries. How much pain did you experience when you fell, and in the aftermath of your initial fall? How much have you currently paid in medical expenses? The more extreme your injuries are, and the more expensive they are, the more pressured you should feel to take legal action.
- Lost wages or opportunities. You also need to think about what you’ve lost as a result of your injuries. Most people who fall aren’t injured so much that they’re forced to miss work, but if you are, legal action may become a must. If you’re missing work, you’re losing money, and your future career prospects may be harmed in the process. You deserve to be compensated for these losses, especially if the blame falls squarely on someone else’s shoulders.
- The responsibility of the premises owner. In order to prove that someone has been negligent, you have to first prove that they have some kind of duty, or responsibility. You then have to prove that they breached that responsibility in a way that led to your injury. This can be difficult to establish. For example, if a store owner left a spilled liquid on the floor with no hazard sign, it may be clear that they were negligent. However, if you tripped over your own feet onto a hard floor, you may not be able to imply that the shopkeeper was responsible for your injuries.
- Your relationship to the premises owner. Depending on the circumstances, you may need to consider your current relationship to the premises owner. For example, if you fall in someone else’s home because it’s in a state of disrepair, but you’re also friends with that person, you may simply forgive them the error for the sake of maintaining your relationship.
- Evidence you’ve collected. You’ll need evidence to prove your claim, so think about what evidence you currently have and what evidence you might be able to obtain. For example, is there security footage of the incident? Do you have any eyewitnesses that saw what happened? Your lawyer may be able to help you brainstorm and/or collect new pieces of information, so don’t write off the possibility completely based on this factor alone.
- Your willingness to go to court. Some cases are decided quickly, but in some cases, court battles are long, complicated, and expensive. Even if you win, you may not want to deal with that extra stress. Think about your willingness to go through this process before you follow through with your efforts.
If you’ve slipped and fallen, don’t be so quick to rule out the possibility of a lawsuit. If you have evidence that your injuries were a direct result of someone else’s negligent actions, and if you suffered measurable damages, it may be in your best interest to seek legal action. Again, if you feel like you might have a case, the best thing for you to do is talk to a lawyer and get their advice.
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