8 Slip and Fall Questions Attorneys Ask
Slip and fall accidents happen suddenly and unexpectedly. Afterwards, it is normal to feel confused and scared, and you may even have injuries due to the fall. It’s important to reach out to a trusted attorney to determine if you have a valid case, and to determine the type of compensation that is available.
To fully determine if this is a slip and fall case, it is crucial that you obtain as much information from the scene as possible, such as the condition that caused your fall. If you have been hurt and are now thinking about working with an attorney to collect damages, below are some of the questions an attorney may ask you.
What was the dangerous condition that caused your fall?
Slip and fall cases in New York, like the majority of personal injury cases, rest on the concept of negligence. Negligence is a legal concept that refers to any careless action or inaction that results in an accident and someone else becoming injured. Property owners are negligent when there is a dangerous condition and they do not notice it in a timely manner, they refuse to correct it, or they fail to warn visitors of.
For example, if a property owner allowed ice and snow to accumulate on their sidewalk that hazardous condition may cause a fall. If you cannot determine what caused your fall, you may have a difficult time proving your case.
How did the accident happen?
It is not uncommon for accident victims to say they do not know what caused their fall. This is normal. Again, slip and falls happen quickly. However, it is critical that you try to remember as much as possible, and that you stay at the scene to make this determination, if necessary. If you cannot remember how the fall happened, the property owner will argue that you contributed to the accident. If they are successful with that claim, it will result in a reduction of the damages you receive. To prevent this from happening, it is critical to remember what caused your accident so you can refute the property owner’s arguments.
Were you partly at fault?
So, what if the property owner does argue that you were partly to blame? Or, what happens if you do remember being partly at fault for the slip and fall? If you contributed to the accident, any damages you are awarded will be reduced.
For example, you may be awarded $50,000 in damages for your injuries. If it is found that you were ten percent at fault, your damages will also be reduced by the same percentage. As a result, instead of receiving $50,000 in damages, you would only receive $45,000. New York is a pure comparative fault state, so even if you were 99 percent at fault for the accident, you can still claim one percent of the damages you are entitled to.
Who is responsible for the property?
It is essential to determine who owns the property and who is responsible for maintaining it so you can determine who is liable for paying damages. This is easier to do in some cases than in others. For example, if you fell in a business, it is fairly clear that the business owner is liable. On the other hand, if you fell on a sidewalk, you will have to determine if the property was private property, or whether it was owned by a government. This often requires obtaining the property description to identify the metes and bounds, which is something a slip and fall lawyer can help you with.
Does the municipality have sovereign immunity?
In many states, local governments are given sovereign immunity from liability claims. This means that if you were in one of these states and tripped and fell on an uneven sidewalk owned by the government, you may not be able to file a claim because the government is protected from liability. In New York, government entities are generally not immune to liability claims. However, to have a valid claim against a government agency, accident victims must provide notice to the entity within a much shorter time frame than they have in other types of claims.
Is the designer of the property at fault?
This question usually applies when someone is injured on a sidewalk, bridge, or other structure that was constructed. In these types of claims, an accident victim may have a valid claim against the construction company who repaired or designed the property.
Other states have a Statute of Repose, which places a time limit on the amount of time a person has to file a claim against the construction company. New York does not have such a statute and so, contractors and design professionals can be held liable for bodily injury resulting from defective construction for an unlimited number of years after a project is completed.
Did the accident occur on the job?
Generally speaking, accidents that occur on the job are covered by workers’ compensation. When someone is hurt on the job, they can typically file a workers’ compensation claim to recover their medical expenses and a portion of their lost income.
However, when a third party not related to the employer caused the accident, the injured individual may have a personal injury claim against the negligent party. A personal injury claim can provide more compensation through pain and suffering and other non-economic damages. A New York City slip and fall lawyer will determine who caused your accident, and will know how to hold them liable for paying the full damages they deserve.
Do You Need a Slip and Fall Attorney in New York City?
There is no requirement that you work with a New York City slip and fall attorney when filing a slip and fall claim, but it is recommended. Most people are not familiar with the personal injury process, proving their claim, and negotiating with insurance companies. At Silberstein, Awad & Miklos, P.C., we have the necessary experience to handle every aspect of your case and we will help you recover the full settlement you deserve. Call us today at 1-877-ASK4SAM or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.