Syracuse Slip and Fall Attorney
Slip and fall accidents can cause serious injuries that might require surgery and many years of physical therapy. In some cases, a slip and fall could cause long-term or permanent disabilities. The risk of serious injury is even higher for seniors because of brittle bones and other health issues. One of the worst parts about slip and fall accidents is that most are preventable if property owners maintain their properties and rectify issues before or as soon as they arise.
Broken lights, handrails, icy sidewalks, and other causes of trip and fall accidents are items that property owners can and should take care of immediately. If a property owner cannot clean up something immediately, such as wet floors during a rainstorm or just after mopping, the owner should place visible signage that warns visitors of the danger. A sign warning of danger, however, doesn’t mean that you can’t collect damages if you sustain injuries on the property.
If you suffered injuries or lost a loved one in a slip and fall incident, contact the Syracuse slip and fall accident lawyers at Finkelstein & Partners for a free case evaluation. We have successfully represented many victims of slip and fall accidents in our over 60 years of experience, and we’re ready to help you too.
How much is my Syracuse slip and fall case worth?
Money is a serious concern after an accident. If you are hurt and unable to go to work, it is only natural to worry about how you will pay your bills. Unfortunately, there is no simple way to predict the value of your slip and fall case. A variety of factors will determine how much your case is worth, including the severity of your injuries, the defendant’s duty of care, and how much your injuries affect your day-to-day life.
With that being said, there are certain items most insurance companies look at when they consider the value of a slip and fall case.
- Medical costs: Serious injuries can be expensive. Too many people avoid the doctor after an accident because it is just a cost they cannot afford. You should not have to choose whether to spend thousands of dollars on medical bills or forego the care you need. A personal injury case can help you pay for the costs of your medical care including doctor visits, hospital stays, medication, and follow-up care.
- Lost wages: Whether you sprain a muscle or get a concussion, after an accident, you may have to take time off work. A personal injury case can help you recover lost wages so you do not have to rush back before you are ready. If you cannot return to work due to the severity of your injuries, you may have a right to future lost wages.
- Pain and suffering: Even minor injuries can cause significant pain and suffering. When an injury interferes with your quality of life, the law may entitle you to financial compensation for this loss. Pain and suffering may include physical pain, emotional distress, loss of companionship, and disfigurement.
Can I Settle With the Insurance Company Myself?
Injured individuals may negotiate with the insurance company on their own, but we don’t recommend it. Those who do settle without the help of an attorney almost always leave money on the table. Insurance companies are for-profit, and paying out claims cuts into those profits. Thus, the insurance company will find any reason to deny your claim. Barring that, it will pay you the least amount possible to make you go away
In some cases, slip and fall accidents can cause long-term or permanent injuries. In many of those cases, the injured individual has the right to collect enough compensation to cover medical expenses and other damages for as long as those disabilities last.
You are entitled to a fair and reasonable settlement or trial award. If the insurance company refuses a fair settlement, your attorney already has the information to litigate your case and further protect your rights.
Once you sign a settlement document, you cannot move forward with any other action, including litigation. If the settlement is not enough to cover additional surgeries and therapy, you could end up paying out of pocket or foregoing proper medical care. Even if you end up with permanent disabilities because of your injuries, there is no do-over. You are stuck with what you accepted from the insurance company.
Because the laws surrounding slip and fall accidents are complicated, it is better that you work with an attorney to make sure you recover maximum compensation. The insurance company has attorneys that know the laws and will try to make it seem as though the accident was your fault or that the property owner or retail establishment was not at fault if it cannot prove you were at fault.
Types of Slip and Fall Accidents in Syracuse
Slip and fall accidents can happen anywhere at any time. Slippery floors and stairs, puddles of water, ice, snow, and uneven or damaged walkways are all examples of slip and fall accidents. You could even suffer injuries near a construction site if the workers leave something in the walkway.
It is up to the property owner—even a private property owner—to make the property safe for visitors. Property owners need to keep walkways clear and in good condition; construction workers must protect those walking by from getting injured by construction equipment and materials. Retail establishments must keep floors and walkways clear of obstructions and anything that could make the floor slippery.
Even if a retailer puts a “Wet Floor” sign up, depending on the circumstances, it might still have to pay damages if you slip and fall on a wet floor in the establishment. The determining factor is reasonableness. The property owner must ensure that his or her property is reasonably safe.
For example, in the case of a snowy sidewalk, you cannot expect a property owner to reasonably clear the sidewalk during a blizzard. Still, you would reasonably expect the property owner to clear the sidewalk within a couple of hours after the blizzard. If you can show that the property owner didn’t clear the snow and ice when he had reasonable time to do so, you have a pretty good chance of winning your case.
Some examples of causes of slip and fall accidents include:
- Wet, snowy, and icy walkways
- Obstructions in walkways
- Poor lighting
- Damaged floors and carpets
- No handrails or improperly installed handrails
- Uneven pavement and sidewalks
- Uneven steps, such as where one or more steps are shorter or taller than the others
- Broken steps and broken handrails
- Wet floors, whether from rain or spills
- Missing warning signs
- Warning signs that are not clear or that are not placed where patrons can see them
Documenting Your Slip and Fall Accident
If possible, you should always take photos of what caused you to slip and fall. A wet floor could be dry by the time someone investigates the case. Store managers could clean up a mess as soon as you leave. Property owners could clean their sidewalks, or the snow could melt before someone investigates the accident scene.
Your photos could go a long way in helping to prove your case, so be sure to take plenty of photos from different angles, including the angle from which you were approaching the dangerous spot. If possible, retracing your steps on video is often helpful.
Slip and Fall Injuries
The injuries you could suffer from a slip and fall vary widely from minor injuries to catastrophic injuries.
Injuries could include:
- Bumps, bruises, scrapes, cuts, and scratches.
- Burns if you fall against something hot or fall into an open fire, such as a fire in a fire pit.
- Road rash.
- Strains and sprains, especially on your wrists, if you try to break your fall.
- Simple and compound fractures.
- Head, neck, and shoulder injuries.
- Traumatic brain injuries, including mild concussions, severe concussions, and penetrating brain injuries.
- Back and spinal cord injuries, including paralysis.
- Internal injuries.
- Wrongful death.
Any open wound, whether it is one you suffered in the accident or a wound resulting from surgery to repair an injury you suffered in a slip and fall, can become infected. Those with underlying conditions, such as diabetes or immunodeficiency, or those who are on certain medications, such as chemotherapy, have a higher risk of developing an infection in an open wound because of a slower recovery time.
Although you have medical records documenting your injuries and your recovery, those records do not document your emotional well-being after an accident.
Keeping a diary of how your injuries are healing, the development of secondary injuries, and your attitude and emotional well-being each day could have two benefits:
- In reading your notes, you could see a pattern you might not have otherwise noticed, such as the development of occupational or cognitive problems; and
- You will have something to look back on when the defendant, via his or her attorney, asks you about certain aspects of your recovery and mental health after a slip and fall.
Sometimes when injuries take longer to heal or when doctors tell patients that their injuries caused long-term or permanent disabilities, the patient could become anxious or depressed. Should you have to see a psychiatrist or other mental health professional because of newly caused emotional issues, the defendant might be liable for those therapy sessions, just as he or she would be liable for physical therapy and occupational therapy.
If the insurance company refuses to come to a fair and reasonable settlement and you decide to litigate, these notes could also help you and your attorney make a case for pain and suffering, including emotional distress if your injuries prevent you from working or if doctors expect your injuries to become long-term or permanent disabilities.
Filing a Case
After a slip and fall accident, you should contact a Syracuse slip and fall attorney as soon as possible. You have a limited amount of time to file a claim, and the amount of time goes by quickly. By the time you investigate a case and attempt settlement negotiations, a good amount of time will have already passed.
For a slip and fall with injuries, you have up to three years to file a court case. If the slip and fall accident resulted in the wrongful death of a loved one, you have two years to file a court case.
Recoverable Damages in a Syracuse Slip and Fall Accident
You might recover compensatory damages in the form of economic damages and non-economic damages after a slip and fall accident in New York. Economic damages have a monetary value while non-economic damages do not.
Sometimes referred to as special damages, economic damages include:
- Past medical expenses for those incurred in the slip and fall accident and before a settlement or trial award.
- Future medical expenses for those incurred in the slip and fall accident but continue after a settlement or trial award.
- Past lost wages for those lost because of injuries you suffered in a slip and fall accident.
- Future lost wages for those you expect to lose after a settlement or trial award. If you go back to work, but your injuries do not allow you to do your usual job or earn your usual salary, you might recover partial future lost wages.
- Replacement or repair of damaged personal property, such as a computer that might have suffered damage when you fell.
- Funeral, burial, and cremation expenses if you lost a loved one because of a slip and fall accident.
Sometimes referred to as general damages, non-economic damages include:
- Pain and suffering, which includes emotional distress for those injured in a slip and fall accident.
- Emotional distress for those who lost a loved one because of a slip and fall accident.
- Loss of quality of life.
- Loss of companionship if you can no longer enjoy family events and outings.
- Loss of consortium if you can no longer have a physical relationship with your spouse.
- Loss of use of a body part, such as a hand.
- Loss of use of a bodily function, such as your eyesight.
- Inconvenience if you need to hire someone to do your usual chores, such as grocery shopping, lawn maintenance, and home maintenance and repair.
- Excessive scarring.
Syracuse Slip and Fall Accident FAQs
Did you know that slip and fall accidents are among the most common causes of personal injury in New York? The very nature of slip and fall accidents means they can happen at any time, any place. In most cases, these accidents come without warning. A slip and fall accident can cause anything from a minor bruise to the ego to a life-threatening brain injury. If you have been injured in a slip and fall accident, the law may entitle you to certain financial damages. To learn more about your legal rights, contact an experienced slip and fall accident attorney. Here are some of the most commonly asked slip and fall accident questions:
What is a slip and fall accident?
By definition, slip and fall accidents happen on someone else’s property. But the term “slip and fall” is somewhat misleading. When we use the term slip and fall, it includes trip and fall, step and fall, and of course, slip and fall accidents. Legally, however, it comes down to whether someone else caused your accident through action or inaction.
Not sure if you have a case? The best way to find out is to talk to an experienced slip and fall attorney.
Here are just a few examples of where slip and fall accidents happen:
- Grocery stores: Retail stores, like the Walmart Supercenter in East Syracuse, are one of the most common locations for slip and fall accidents. When you enter a store, the managers of that location have a duty to ensure all areas of the property are free of any hazards. While it may be impossible to monitor the whole store at once, at minimum, the store staff should do regular safety checks. Common causes of accidents at retail venues include liquid spills, slippery entryways, and improperly stored inventory.
- Parking lots: Yes, a property owner’s duty of care extends to the parking lot. Parking lot injuries happen all the time. Injuries can occur because of uneven sidewalks, loose gravel, hidden or unmarked steps, debris, or ice.
- Private residences: When most people think of slip and fall accidents, they think of commercial property owners. However, private property owners have a duty to their guests as well. If you suffer an injury at a friend’s house, their homeowner’s insurance may cover the cost of your injuries. Common causes of private residence injuries include ice, loose hoses or tools in the walkway, broken steps, uneven sidewalks or driveways.
- Amusement parks: Amusement parks like Sky Zone Trampoline Park, Get Air Trampoline Park, and Sylvan Beach Amusement Park are full of hazards. From loose electrical cords to slippery surfaces, injuries happen at these venues all the time.
What should I do after a Syracuse slip and fall accident?
Nobody plans for accidents—that is of course, except for insurance companies. Insurance companies deal with accident claims every day. They know what to expect when their client comes to them and they are waiting for you to make a mistake. It is unfortunate, but everything you say or do after an accident can affect your slip and fall case. The good news is, you can protect yourself and your rights after an accident.
Here’s how you can do this:
- Take pictures of the scene: Before you talk to the manager—before you leave the store—you need to take pictures of where the accident happened. The issue is, if you wait until after you report the accident, the manager or property owner may clean up the area or hide any hazards. Pictures can provide evidence in a slip and fall claim and help you prove your case.
- Report the accident: There are two reasons you need to report the accident. One, it helps establish your claim and lets the owner know you sustained an injury. Two, it allows the owner to remedy the situation to prevent further injury. If you are at a place of business, ask to speak to the manager on duty and get a copy of any written report. If you are at someone’s home, let the homeowner know what happened.
- Go to the doctor: The purpose of a personal injury claim is to recover damages for your injuries after an accident. If you do not go to the doctor, there is no proof of your injuries. When you go to the doctor, the doctor can take note of any symptoms you have and prescribe further treatment. Be honest about how you feel. You should never downplay or hide your symptoms. At the same time, do not exaggerate or play up your symptoms.
- Contact a Syracuse slip and fall attorney: While your case may seem straightforward, it is always a good idea to talk to an experienced attorney after a slip and fall accident. Corporations usually have expensive attorneys and aggressive insurance companies. They will look for ways to pay you less. An experienced attorney can help you fight for what you deserve.
How do property owners try to get out of paying for slip and fall accidents?
In the legal realm, slip and fall accidents fall into the premises liability category. Premises liability laws require all property owners to keep their land and building safe and free of certain dangers. But, that does not stop owners (and their insurance companies) from trying to find excuses to get out of paying. These attempts are often futile and do nothing but drag out litigation. Nonetheless, they come up time and time again.
Here are three defenses defendants often use to try to avoid liability:
- “I was not aware of the hazard”: To most property owners, this makes perfect sense. If they were not aware of the danger, how are they responsible for it? This one may be used when a person slips at a grocery store because of a spill or at a private residence because of ice. When a person or entity invites guests to their property, they have to ensure the property is safe before the guests arrive and that it stays that way for the duration of the stay. This may mean a store does hourly safety walks around the store or the homeowner checks their front steps during freezing temperatures.
- “I put up warning signs”: We have all gone into a store and seen those big yellow cones warning, “slippery when wet.” But that does not necessarily relinquish them from any further responsibility. The store still must correct and monitor the situation. In some cases, they may need to take extra precautions. For example, if a store’s entryway is always wet because of rain, they should probably invest in non-slip rugs.
- “It was their fault!”: Too many times, defendants try to blame the victim. Remember, the law requires property owners to keep their land safe. Even if you were not where you were supposed to be in a certain area or you were not paying attention, the owner may hold legal liability.
What if I did not have permission to be on the person’s property when I was injured?
Basso v. Miller requires the law to treat all visitors the same when it comes to premises liability. This means property owners have the same duty to invited guests as they do trespassers. However, to have a premises liability case, you must prove the defendant had a duty of care. This standard can be harder to meet if you are an uninvited guest.
However, there are two main exceptions:
- Prior knowledge of trespassers: If the property owner did not know you were on their land, it is hard to prove they had a duty of care. However, if the owner knew that you or other persons visited their land, they have a legal duty to warn of potential dangers.
- Attractive nuisance: The attractive nuisance doctrine states that a property owner may have legal liability for a minor’s injuries if the injuries were from a hazardous condition or object that is likely to attract children. For example, if a property owner puts a trampoline in their front yard, there should be a reasonable expectation that it may attract children. Therefore, if a child enters the property and gets hurt on or on the way to the trampoline, the property owner may be liable for that child’s injuries.
Cases that involve an uninvited guest can be harder to prove. An experienced slip and fall attorney can help you determine whether you have a case.
How much time do I have to sue the other party for damages?
After an accident, the law only allows you so much time to recover damages. In New York, the statute of limitations for slip and fall accidents is three years from the date of the accident.
While this may seem like a long time, there are a few reasons why you should not wait too long to open a case.
- You delay payment: Ultimately, the longer you wait to pursue your slip and fall case, the longer it will take for the insurance company to issue a payment. Once you notify the insurance company of your claim, they have to review the evidence, determine how much they will pay, and negotiate with your attorney. During all this time, your medical bills will continue to accrue. The sooner you open a case, the sooner you can try to recover the funds you need to pay for your costs.
- You risk your credibility: There are a variety of reasons why you might wait to initiate a personal injury case. But regardless of your reasons, the insurance company will question why you waited so long if your injuries are actually as bad as you claim.
- Your attorney needs time: The more time your attorney has to prepare your case, the better chance they have to achieve your desired outcome. If you wait until the last minute, your attorney will not have enough time to properly review the evidence and build the strongest case.
Get the Answers You Need
After a slip and fall accident, take care of yourself. One of the best ways to do this is to understand your rights and get the answers you need. In some circumstances, the law may entitle you to financial damages after an injury. If you have more questions or need help with your case, contact an experienced Syracuse slip and fall attorney.
How Can I Afford a Slip and Fall Lawyer at Finkelstein & Partners if I’m Not Working?
A slip and fall attorney can help investigate your case, including helping you obtain the necessary medical records required to prove your injuries. The attorney can also help you prove liability, find witnesses, and can find out who shares in the liability.
In some cases, more than one person could share the responsibility for your injuries. If that is the case, your attorney will start settlement negotiations with all parties involved. If you move to litigation because the defendants refuse to come to a reasonable settlement, the attorney already has most of the information you need and can file a lawsuit against the appropriate parties on your behalf.
We take cases on a contingency basis. That means all of the work we put into your case is free unless you win. Your initial case evaluation is always free, and you never pay unless we win your case. Contact Finkelstein & Partners today or dial (315) 453-3053 for a free case evaluation from one of our Syracuse slip and fall lawyers.
108 West Jefferson Street,
Syracuse, NY 13202