When you walk around town, in a mall, a store, a parking lot, or through our city’s exciting entertainment hotspots (Bourbon Street, Frenchman Street, the Garden District) you expect to stay on your feet. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. If you slip and fall in New Orleans, sometimes what hurts most is your ego. In many cases, though, that’s not all that gets hurt.
Slip and falls are a common source of SEVERE physical injury. 20 percent of all falls result in serious injury, including broken bones, concussions, or worse. When you’re injured because you fell, you may have severe injuries resulting in major medical bills. If you didn’t create the dangerous condition that made you fall, you shouldn’t bear the responsibility to pay for it. If you would like to discuss your New Orleans or Louisiana slip and fall case for FREE, call us RIGHT NOW. Our team of personal injury attorneys are standing by 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, ready to speak with you at 800-898-4877 or contact us online.
What Is a Slip and Fall?
Most of us will slip and fall at some point in our lives. Most times, the accident isn’t our fault. A slip and fall accident happens when you trip or slip on something and consequently fall. Under Louisiana law, private buildings, homes, parking lots, walkways, and other public locations must be maintained to ensure people can safely walk on them without getting injured (also known as COMMON SENSE).
Slipping and falling is at one of these private spaces may present a premises liability claim under the law. This is a specific type of personal injury claim based on the negligence of the property owner or the property occupier, who failed to maintain his or her property in such a way that kept YOU safe from injury, when they had a duty to do so. Depending on the facts and circumstances of the event, you may have a claim against the owner or occupier of the premises to recover monetary damages.
Where Do Slip and Falls Happen?
Slip and fall accidents can happen anywhere, but they most commonly occur at:
- Shopping malls
- Parking lots
Fall-related injuries actually occur in homes, too. In fact, as people age, the chance of falling and being injured indoors increases SUBSTANTIALLY, even when visiting someone else. Slip and fall accidents also commonly happen when it’s raining or snowing. The precipitation makes the surface slippery. We’ve all seen the yellow “Slippery When Wet” signs around. Property owners put those signs up to limit their liability should someone slip and fall. But if you’ve been injured in a slip and fall accident, and after your fall you only then saw the sign, it doesn’t mean that you can’t still seek compensation from the property owner.
Common Slip and Fall Injuries
Slip and fall injuries vary greatly. From minor cuts to life-altering injuries, you should make sure that you are seen by a medical professional who can help you get on the path to recovery by properly diagnosing your injuries.
- Strains – When you start to fall, you put your arms out to cushion yourself. When the ligaments in your joints are overstretched during a fall, you may sprain or strain that joint. These may seem like minor injuries, but because joints don’t always receive great blood flow, it can actually take a long time for strains and sprains to heal.
- Cuts and bruises – While these injuries may not seem severe at first, you risk infection or disfigurement if something goes wrong. It’s best to get even seemingly minor injuries seen by a medical professional, so you can be certain that you’re on the path to recovery. Facial cuts in particular can be extremely severe, and result in a permanent disfigurement.
- Broken bones – Broken bones happen frequently from slip and fall accidents because when you start to fall, you try to brace yourself by sticking your arms out. Broken wrists are the most common broken bone from slip and fall accidents. Other common broken bones include hips and ankles.
- Shoulder – You might hit your shoulder on something or land on your shoulder as you fall. Dislocating your shoulder will require medical procedures and possibly surgery. It might also take years of rehabilitation before you get back to normal.
- Knee Damage – During your fall, your knee might twist, or you may land on it, putting your entire body weight on a fragile part of your body. Knee injuries, especially damage to your MCL or ACL, can take a long time to heal and might require multiple surgeries.
- Spine – Spine injuries are some of the most serious injuries. The leading cause of paralysis is a spinal cord injury. These are injuries you should not take lightly. In many cases, they result in life-altering conditions requiring a lifetime of medical care.
- Traumatic Brain Injuries – Concussions are the most notable form of traumatic brain injury, but they are not the only form. Traumatic brain injuries can occur in a slip and fall, even if your head never makes an impact with the ground or another hard object. Merely jolting your brain inside your skull is enough to create conditions leading to a traumatic brain injury. In addition, these injuries are often difficult to diagnose, as symptoms can take weeks to develop, and in many cases, are PERMANENT.
- Dental Injuries – Injuries to the teeth, mouth, lips, and tongue are extremely common in slip and fall accidents. These injuries can result in significant dental bills as well as permanent disfigurement.
Any time you sustain any injury in a slip and fall, even if the injury doesn’t seem that bad, make sure you seek medical attention, and at least get checked out, as soon as possible. Remember, you have a burst of adrenaline when you fall, and between that, and the “embarrassment” factor, the symptoms of your injuries may show up hours, or even days later. Remember that your health is the MOST important thing, and that is the most important reason to get checked out.
Keep in mind though, part of the key to success in your slip and fall personal injury claim is going to be the records of medical professionals. If those records clearly show a connection between your slip and fall accident and your resulting injuries, it becomes more likely that you’ll be able to recover the FULL value of your claim, and not have to worry about your medical bills.
How to Tell If You Have a Case
If you’ve been injured in a slip and fall, you are probably wondering if the property owner or occupier is liable for your injuries. While every slip and fall case is different, there are certain components of a slip and fall case that don’t depend on your specific circumstances.
To have a valid slip and fall case, you MUST have been on the property for a valid reason. There are three legal reasons for why you would be on someone else’s property:
- Invitee – This is your legal status when you are invited onto someone else’s property, like when you visit the grocery store. You may not have been specifically invited, but the owner wants customers, so they open their businesses up to the public. Here, the property owner must keep the property safe for you and warn you of any hazards.
- Licensee – This is when you’re on a property with the owner’s permission, like a courier. Again, a property owner may not have specifically invited you, but he or she allows you on the property for a specific purpose. Here, the property owner must warn you of any hazards but does not have to inspect the property.
- Trespasser – Yes, even a trespasser has legal rights. However, these rights are less than the two above. Here, the property owner only owes you a duty of care to not willfully cause you harm.
The next step is determining WHY you fell. If you slipped and fell because of a puddle of spilled drink at a restaurant or on a broken glass jar in a grocery store aisle, that increases the odds you can recover, as your fall is directly related to the business. ALSO, OBVIOUSLY, to have a valid claim, you MUST also have been injured in your fall. One cannot make a personal injury claim without having been injured.
Another important factor: The property owner must also have had time to both notices, and either warn of or rectify the danger. So, if someone at a restaurant spills a drink in front of you and you slip on the spilled liquid seconds after, the property owner would likely be able to argue that they didn’t have reasonable time to clean up the spill.
If, however, the liquid was spilled hours ago, is crusty or has footprints or cart tracks through it (and STILL isn’t cleaned up?!), and there is no wet floor or danger sign warning you of the liquid on the floor, then the property owner is MOST LIKELY responsible for your injuries. In the latter example, the owner would have had plenty of time to clean up the mess but failed to do so.
Get Compensation for Your Injuries
One of the worst parts about being injured is the uncertainty of how and when you’ll get better. Another worry is all of your medical bills, that you know are stacking up. Depending on the severity of your injuries, you could be out of work temporarily, or even PERMANENTLY! If you’re worried about how you will pay your bills, you’re not completely focused on your physical recovery.
When you work with us, we’ll aggressively fight to get you compensation for:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Lost wages
- Past, present, and future medical bills
- Rehabilitation costs
- Past and future disfigurement from scars, broken teeth, etc.
- Past and future disability related to your inability to do things you were able to do before
Many people fail to accurately estimate their medical bills. Sure, you can get a calculation of your past bills. That’s easy. But calculating how much you’ll need in the future to pay your bills and make sure you get the best chance of making a full and complete recovery? HOW DO YOU FIGURE THAT OUT?! The keen eye of an experienced slip and fall personal injury lawyer can help.
Many victims of slip and fall accidents know that they are going to have medical bills as a result of their accidents. The insurance company knows this, too. The insurance company also knows you’re out of work, at least temporarily, and you NEED CASH NOW to pay your bills.
The insurance company will most likely offer you a quick and “lowball” settlement. This settlement probably won’t cover your current and future medical costs, leaving you to have to pay out of pocket for your medical care. Also, the settlement offer will probably include a waiver where you waive your right to bring a claim at a later date. So, when you do realize, weeks, months, or even years down the road, that you need FAR MORE MONEY to cover your recovery, you cannot bring a claim. You are plain OUT. OF. LUCK.
It’s tragic, but we’ve seen it happen before. Don’t let it happen to you! Negotiating with insurance companies can be a time-consuming and mentally draining process. More than that – the adjusters are EXPERTS at this and have talked THOUSANDS of victims into accepting FAR LESS than they are entitled to. You have enough to worry about, so you shouldn’t have to worry about settlement negotiations with an insurance company. This is where hiring the right personal injury lawyer can help make a difference.
We have over 20 years of experience dealing with insurance companies who don’t want to pay your claim. We’ll fight aggressively for you while you’re focusing on making a complete recovery. We KNOW the tactics insurance companies play, and we know how to deal with them. While it’s true that most personal injury claims settle out of court, we’ll only settle if the amount is right for you. If an insurance company isn’t willing to be reasonable and pay you a fair sum for your recovery, and we all agree that it is a case we have a good chance of winning, we’re fully prepared to take your case all the way to trial, if necessary. Not every law firm has the resources or the experience to be the advocate you need. We do.
You Can Help Prevent Slip and Fall Accidents
This may sound silly, but you can prevent slipping and falling. A little prevention on your part can help save you from the extreme pain and suffering of a slip and fall accident.
First, pay attention to where you’re walking. If you’re looking around and not paying attention, you could trip on a large crack in a parking lot. While it is still the parking lot owner’s responsibility to make sure the parking lot is correctly paved and lit at night, you can avoid injury by simply paying closer attention. More importantly, NEVER ASSUME A PROPERTY OWNER HAS PROPERLY CARED FOR THEIR PREMISES. The fact that someone was injured may be a STRONG indicator that a property owner or occupier has done something wrong or failed to do something they should have done.
Another way to avoid slip and fall accidents is to wear proper shoes. If it’s raining or snowing, wearing shoes with better traction can help prevent you from falling on a slippery surface. But NO MATTER whether you were paying attention or wearing shoes with good traction, if you slip and fall on someone’s property, the property owner or occupier still may have breached their duty to provide you with a safe walking environment. As a result, you can seek compensation from the property owner to cover the expenses of your injuries. Even if you had something to do with the incident, you may still have a claim against the owner or occupier if they were mostly at fault for your fall.
Contact Our New Orleans Slip and Fall Attorneys Today
You should never feel forced to accept a lowball settlement offer from an insurance company or adjuster. You may be facing significant injuries, lost wages, and damages that can last for weeks or months to come, or even permanently. Before you talk to an insurance company, call us and let us help you assess and understand your rights.
The legal team of Stewart J. Guss, Injury Accident Lawyers is recognized for protecting the rights of victims for over 20 years. If you are the victim of a slip and fall, call our office right now for a free consultation: 800-898-4877. We’re open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week! You can also reach us online. Because we take all our personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis, you will not owe us a DIME unless and until we win your case. If you were injured in a slip and fall accident in New Orleans, don’t talk to the insurance company yourself – you don’t want to be a victim twice! Instead, call our attorneys for a fee consultation right now.
Stewart J. Guss, Attorney at Law
400 Poydras Tower,
#1975, New Orleans, 70130