San Antonio Slip & Fall Accident Lawyers
While a “slip and fall” probably sounds like an almost comical event, there is nothing funny about these dangerous accidents—they can often turn into complicated legal claims. Texas property owners owe their visitors a duty of care to ensure that no one is unnecessarily injured on their premises. However, hazards do occur in businesses and on private property, and slips and falls injure many people on a regular basis. If you’ve been injured in a San Antonio slip and fall accident, you need experienced legal counsel—and you should not hesitate to call the Law Offices of George Salinas in San Antonio for help.
Do You Have a Premises Liability Claim?A slip and fall accident is a premises liability case, and every case must be evaluated according to its own specific details. Before a claim can move forward, the cause of the accident must be determined. If you, as the injured party, are less than 50 percent responsible for your own injury, and if another party is identified as being at least 50 percent responsible for your accident, you may have a viable claim. While determining the percentage of negligence may seem nonsensical, it allows the court to ascertain whether your own carelessness may have significantly contributed to your accident. This is known as comparative negligence, and it means that you—as a guest on someone else’s property—are expected to exercise your own reasonable caution and to avoid dangers and hazards that should be obvious and clear to you. In other words, bringing a slip and fall claim—in and of itself—is complicated. The premises liability lawyers at The Law Offices of George Salinas will work with you to determine whether you have a claim and will guide you on the subsequent path to just compensation.
Elements of a Slip and Fall Case
- In Texas, the courts require a fact pleading, which amounts to an outline of your case’s specific facts and allows the court to determine whether these facts encompass all the elements necessary for a premises liability claim. Several distinct elements must be present before a property owner can be held liable for your slip and fall injuries:
- Your presence on the property was lawful (you weren’t trespassing).
- The defendant either owns or possesses the premises on which you were injured.
- The property’s condition caused you to face unreasonable risk of harm.
- The property owner either knew or should have known about the hazard.
- The property owner failed to either remedy the hazard or to adequately provide warning of its presence.
- The failure by the property owner caused your injuries.
- You suffered real damages with verifiable expenses.
- The property owner created the hazardous condition that caused your slip and fall accident.
- The property owner was aware of the dangerous condition that caused your accident but failed to take the necessary steps to fix the problem.
- A reasonable person would have discovered and fixed the hazardous condition that caused your injury, and therefore the property owner should have done the same.
Common Slip and Fall CausesWhen you enter a business or property as a welcome guest or customer, you do so with the reasonable expectation that you won’t be injured by hazardous conditions or dangerous disrepair. However, several injurious property conditions are common:
- Sidewalks, walkways, or entryways are uneven, crooked, or cracked
- Common areas have dangerous or hazardous components
- Wet and slippery surfaces
- Snow packed and icy surfaces
- Rough, bunched, or torn carpets or floors
- Spills that are a routine part of the business’s operation that go uncorrected
- Less than adequate—and thus hazardous—lighting and merchandise displays
What to Do NextIf you’ve been injured in a slip and fall accident on commercial property, you can take some important steps to protect your rights and your claim. First and foremost, always seek immediate medical attention if you’ve been seriously injured. If you can’t take care of the next steps on your own, enlist a friend or family member to do so:
- File an accident report with the manager or owner of the property on which you were injured, file a police report, or do both. Retain copies of these reports for your case file.
- Collect photographic evidence of the hazardous condition(s) that led to your injury.
- Collect eyewitness statements and contact information.
- Collect and compile receipts for all the expenses (including medical) that you incur due to your slip and fall accident.
Injuries Common to Slip and FallsSlip and fall accidents can range from mild to life-threatening, but several injuries are commonly associated with such accidents:
- Broken or fractured bones
- Back and neck trauma
- Traumatic brain injuries (including concussions)
- Spinal cord injuries
- Joint, ligament, and other soft tissue damage
- Severe cuts and bruises
San Antonio Slip and Fall FAQAs a society, we tend to laugh off falls. The internet is filled with trips, slips, and tumbles to the ground. So, it seems, it’s only natural to brush off a fall as just a minor mishap. But this is often not a good idea. According to the CDC, more than 3 million people visit the emergency room each year because of fall-related injuries. Even minor falls can cause serious injuries. If you have sustained an injury as the result of a fall, you may be eligible for financial compensation. To learn more, contact an experienced slip and fall attorney.
What is “slip and fall”?Slip and fall or trip and fall, they both have the same premise. These accidents happen when someone sustains a fall that results in an injury on someone else’s property. Consequently, slip and fall accidents fall under the umbrella of premises liability law. When you visit a residence or a place of business, the property owner has a responsibility to make sure the property is safe and free of danger. If they don’t, they may be liable for any injuries that result from poor maintenance. Slip and fall accidents happen more often than you may think. Recent data shows that poorly maintained floors and flooring material contribute to more than 2 million fall injuries every year. Common causes of slip and fall accidents include:
- Loose flooring;
- Wet surfaces;
- Uneven sidewalks;
- Unkempt electrical cords;
- Kicked up carpeting; and
Who is liable for the cost of my injuries?Generally, the property owner holds financial liability for any injuries that happen on their premises. However, the level of liability depends on the victim’s status as a guest. Guests may fall into one of three categories: invited guests (e.g. party goers, shoppers), lessees (someone renting the property), or trespassers. Liability breaks down as follows:
- Invited guests: The owner holds full financial responsibility for any injuries to invited guests if the property owner was aware or should have been aware of the dangerous condition that caused the injury. Even if the fall was the result of a spilled liquid or dropped item, the property owner should conduct regular inspections and is often responsible for the accident.
- Lessees: Property owners have a duty to warn visitors who are on their land for recreational purposes of any dangers, but do not have to ensure that no injuries happen.
- Trespassers: In almost all cases, the property owner holds no financial responsibility for injuries that happen to a trespasser on their property. There is an exception if the property owner knew of the trespasser’s continuing presence on their land or inflicted intentional harm.
I was injured at work. Can I sue my employer?Falls are the leading cause of workplace accidents. But whether or not you have the right to sue depends on if your employer holds workers’ compensation insurance. Texas does not require employers to purchase workers’ compensation insurance. That said, a large number of employers do choose to buy this coverage. If you sustain an injury at your workplace and your employer has workers’ compensation insurance, you need to process your claim through your employer. On the other hand, if your employer does not have workers’ compensation insurance, your best course of action is to file a San Antonio slip and fall lawsuit. Regardless of whether or not you are covered by workers’ comp, it’s still a good idea to talk to a lawyer. If you’re not sure which laws apply, an experienced San Antonio slip and fall attorney can guide you in the right direction.
What should I do after an accident?The decisions you make in the hours and days following your accident can play a big role in the outcome of your San Antonio slip and fall case. It is extremely important to watch what you say and do when you sustain an injury on someone else’s property. A few things you should keep in mind include:
- Document as much as you can: How did the fall happen? What were you doing? Who responded to the incident? This all matters. Pay attention to the events surrounding your injury and document everything you can. If you can safely do so, pull out your phone and take pictures of the conditions that led to your injury.
- Report the incident: If you don’t report your injuries to the person in charge, your case can easily turn into a difficult case of “he said, she said.” If you can, report what happened to the property owner or person in charge. If you sustain a serious injury, get someone else to call for help.
- Go to the doctor: After any fall, it’s important to seek immediate medical attention. Falls are one of the leading causes of serious injuries such as traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, and broken bones. Don’t ignore pain. A doctor can give you a thorough evaluation and make sure there are no serious concerns.
- Contact a San Antonio slip and fall attorney: Slip and fall accident claims can get tricky. After an accident, it’s important to protect your rights. An experienced attorney can help you gather evidence and start negotiations with the appropriate parties.
How much is my case worth?Many factors can influence the value of your case. This includes the degree of your injuries, your recovery time, and, often, the extent of the property owner’s negligence. That said, there are certain types of damages you can expect to be a part of your San Antonio slip and fall claim. These include:
- Medical costs;
- Lost wages; and
- Pain and suffering.