Biloxi Slip-And-Fall Attorneys Helping Injured Clients Receive Compensation
Slip-and-fall injuries are some of the most common personal injury cases in North America. It is estimated that over 540,000 slip-and-fall injuries that require hospital care happen in the U.S. every year. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, slip-and-fall accidents cause over 20,000 fatalities in North America every year, with the majority of victims being 75 years old or older. If you have been injured in a slip-and-fall accident, it is important to know what options you may have to recover compensation for your injuries.
What Is a Slip-And-Fall Accident?
A slip-and-fall accident is usually one in which an individual slips or trips due to a hazardous condition (such as uneven ground or a slippery/wet spot on the floor) and ends up falling to the ground, often sustaining significant injuries. When the accident occurs on someone else’s property – either public or private — the person or organization that has control over that particular area is also responsible for keeping it safe for pedestrians, and a slip-and-fall accident could be the result of that party’s negligence to remedy the hazardous situation or properly warn others about it (such as taping off the area or posting a “wet floor” sign).
Common injuries resulting from slipping or tripping and falling include sprains, bruises, strains, broken or dislocated bones, back injuries, or head injuries (such as a concussion). Spills, loose mats, rugs, uneven ground (such as sidewalks with cracks or uneven concrete), surfaces with untreated ice and snow, and wet areas due to rain or external factors (such as irrigation sprinklers) are frequent causes of slip-and-fall accidents. Other situations can be hazardous too, such as areas with clutter and/or poor lighting and unsafe use of step ladders. Slip-and-fall injuries are common in retail areas but can also happen at workplaces and even at home.
Who Is Responsible for Damages Caused by a Slip-And-Fall Accident?
Slip-and-fall accidents often result in the need for medical treatment, and the more severe injuries often cause victims to be unable to work. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that 104 million workdays are lost every year due to slip-and-fall injuries. This means that victims not only endure pain and suffering due to the injury but also end up being financially impacted by it.
When the injury happens in an area controlled by someone else, that party is usually responsible for the slip-and-fall accident. If your slip-and-fall happened at a place of business, such as a grocery or retail store, the company that owns and manages that store may be liable for your accident. These types of businesses often carry insurance that may include coverage for personal liability, meaning you may be covered by their policy if you get injured while on the premises, so checking to see if you may be able to file an insurance claim could be a sensible first step.
If you were hurt while visiting someone at their home or place of residence, that person might be responsible for your injuries. Some homeowner insurance policies offer coverage for slip-and-fall accidents, so again, checking with that person’s homeowner’s insurance carrier may be your first step. If the home you were visiting was a rental, the liability could fall with the landlord or with the renter, depending on the circumstances of the accident. Finally, you may also hold a government agency responsible for your accident if you slipped and fell while on government property or a public area controlled by the city, county, or state (for example).
What Do You Need to Prove in a Slip-And-Fall Accident?
Like most personal injury cases, a slip-and-fall accident is usually built on the grounds of negligence. Negligence-based claims have a few basic elements that need to be present, and the burden of proof lies on the plaintiff.
First, you need to prove that another party owed a duty of care to you – such as the owner of a business or retail store whose responsibility is to maintain a safe and clean environment for all shoppers. Next, you need to prove that there was a breach in that duty of care. Using our retail store example, suppose there was a wet area on the floor caused by a roof leak. The party in control of that area did not take steps to remedy the problem (fix the roof leak) or mitigate the risk of someone slipping and falling by posting appropriate warnings (such as a wet floor sign).
Third, you need to demonstrate that their failure to take action and correct the unsafe situation or warn shoppers about it was the direct cause of your accident. Finally, you need to demonstrate that your slip-and-fall resulted in significant damages, such as injuries, financial losses, pain, and suffering. Working with an attorney is recommended in order to build a strong case.
Can You Seek Payment for Pain and Suffering in a Slip-And-Fall Accident?
An important element of most slip-and-fall cases is seeking compensation for non-economic damages – sometimes referred to as “pain and suffering”. These types of damages are often subjective and harder to demonstrate than the economic damages (or tangible financial losses) that usually happen after a slip-and-fall accident.
Non-economic damages include but are not limited to the mental anguish, trauma, physical pain, and loss of enjoyment of life resulting from your injury. It can also refer to the emotional and physical distress a plaintiff may endure in the process of recovering from their injury, including pain from surgery or any other medical procedures necessary for recovery. In order to seek compensation for pain and suffering, it is important to be prepared to show evidence to support your case. That may include medical reports and the testimony of expert witnesses. As always, ask an attorney about how non-economic damages may be included in your case.
What Should You Do if You Are Offered a Settlement That Is Too Low?
Some slip-and-fall cases may begin as an insurance claim. Oftentimes, the slip-and-fall accident took place at a residence or business covered by insurance, and the first step to recovering compensation is to seek an insurance settlement, which tends to be faster and less costly than going to court. However, this process does not always go smoothly.
It is common for insurance carriers to try and close your claim as quickly as possible and for the least amount of money. For that reason, the insurance company handling your claim may be quick to come up with a settlement offer and may possibly try to pressure you into accepting it. However, that initial offer is usually rather low and may not be adequate to cover all your damages.
Regardless of what the insurance carrier may lead you to believe, there is no law or requirement that says you are obliged to accept their initial offer. If you turn down their low settlement offer, they will simply need to come back with a new offer. This is when working with an attorney becomes essential to maximize your compensation – an attorney can handle negotiations on your behalf and is familiar with the tactics most insurance companies rely on.
How Much Time Do You Have to Initiate a Slip-And-Fall Claim in Mississippi?
Mississippi has a three-year deadline for slip-and-fall plaintiffs to initiate a claim. This deadline (known as the statute of limitations) applies to most claims involving an accident with injuries caused by another party’s negligence. However, it is important to observe that the three-year deadline may not apply if you are seeking compensation from a government entity, such as a city, county, or state entity. In these cases, most plaintiffs could have as little as 30 to 90 days to initiate a claim, so it is important to check the deadlines that may apply to your particular case.
In addition, while three years may seem like a long time to most plaintiffs, the longer you wait to initiate your claim, the more difficult it may be to receive compensation. It is usually easier to obtain the necessary evidence to support your case when you take action shortly after your accident, and doing so also allows your attorney to have enough time to put together a strong case on your behalf. That is why it may be in your best interest to seek the help of an attorney as soon as possible in order to maximize your chances of obtaining a successful outcome and getting compensated for your damages.
Do You Need an Attorney to Initiate a Slip-And-Fall Claim?
Slip-and-fall accidents may vary greatly in terms of severity, and while less severe cases with minor injuries may not necessarily require an attorney, those with injuries requiring significant medical attention and resulting in economic losses may greatly benefit from leveraging the skills and knowledge of a slip-and-fall attorney. You may be recovering from your injury and unable to work after your accident. By relying on the advice and legal services of an attorney, you can have greater peace of mind knowing your attorney will handle all major aspects of your case on your behalf, so you can place your attention back on healing and getting back on your feet.
At the Rundlett Law Firm, PLLC, our legal team is well-versed in all areas of premises liability and slip-and-fall cases in Biloxi, MS, and our attorneys are ready to assist you even if your case does not end up going to trial. There is no need to try to handle it all by yourself – if you were hurt in a slip-and-fall accident and need to hold the responsible party liable for your losses, contact the Rundlett Law Firm, PLLC by calling 228-338-1515 and requesting an appointment to discuss your case.