Injured in a Trip and Fall Accident?
Slips, trips, and falls happen every day in the Houston area. Some people trip over nothing or even over their own feet. In other situations, however, a trip and fall accident can occur due to the fault of another party. After a trip and fall, you may recover immediately by standing up, brushing yourself off, and moving forward with your life, maybe even laughing at the incident. On the other hand, some trip and fall victims have their lives disrupted in that moment due to suffering a serious injury in their fall.
When a person sustains injuries and losses in a trip and fall that was someone else’s fault, they have important legal rights under Texas law. Texas personal injury law holds parties responsible for the injuries they cause and this certainly includes trip and fall accidents.
If you or a loved one have been injured in a trip and fall accident, you may have questions about “what to do next,” and you may not even know where to start. Our Houston trip and fall attorneys offer a FREE consultation, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so call us right now at 800-898-4877. There is NO cost to get a free consultation right now. If you decide to hire us, you pay us nothing up front, and you will pay absolutely nothing at all unless and until we’ve won your case.
Since establishing our headquarters in Houston, Texas in 1999, our firm has grown to numerous locations across the country, including hubs in Dallas, New Orleans, Los Angeles, and Atlanta. Along the way, we’ve built a trusted network of partners throughout all 50 states who share our values and our commitment to excellence.
**No matter where you are, it’s our mission to insure that you have the finest representation for your case.**
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How a Trip and Fall Can Affect Your Life
While you may not consider tripping and falling to be a serious incident, many people have their lives changed by a trip and fall injury. The following are only some of the many injuries that can be sustained by tripping and falling down:
- Soft tissue injuries – When you fall, it is common for parts of the body to twist or stretch unnaturally. This often results in damage caused to your soft tissue, including your tendons, ligaments, and muscles. This soft tissue can be sprained, strained, or torn – any of which can be painful injuries. Soft tissue injuries can limit your ability to walk, lift things, or even move without pain. Many people require physical therapy before they are able to complete even the simplest of activities. In addition, if something is torn, surgery may be required to repair the soft tissue, which can have a lengthy recovery time. Some people never recover the full range of motion they once had and may have to refrain from certain activities for the rest of their lives.
- Contusions – A contusion is another term for a bruise. While many bruises are considered to be minor, some contusions can be very serious. When a person falls on something and suffers a blow to their body, it can crush the fibers of the muscles and other connective tissue. Blood vessels may be torn and blood can pool under the skin, causing a hematoma. Damaged muscles may be very sore and can take a long time to heal and a contusion on a joint can limit the range of motion. Contusions to your abdominal area may also cause harm to vital organs. Finally, a contusion is also commonly a sign that another injury has occurred, such as broken bones, dislocations, sprains, or tears.
- Fractures – Millions of people suffer broken bones every year in the U.S. Any fracture can be extremely painful and can limit your ability to use that body part. Broken bones should be diagnosed through imaging tests and may have to be stabilized for weeks before you can return to your regular activities. In cases of open or compound fractures, surgical procedures may be needed to insert pins or screws to ensure the bone heals correctly. Sometimes, numerous surgeries are required with painful recovery times and in some cases, the bone will never heal fully as it once was.
- Concussion or TBI – Many people who fall hit their heads on a nearby object or on the ground. Any blow to the head can damage the brain tissue and result in a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Concussions are a mild form of TBI but they can have serious effects. Concussion victims can lose consciousness, experience disorientation and memory problems, have headaches and fatigues, among other symptoms. If not properly diagnosed and treated, many complications can arise from a concussion. In addition, more serious TBIs can have long-lasting effects and can cause cognitive, physical, and other impairments that can change a person’s life and can require extensive treatment.
- Back or neck injuries – Anytime you fall, you may wrench your neck or back or land on something in that area of your body. The back and neck are both vital parts of the body that facilitate movement and house important organs. There are many parts of the back and neck that can be injured, including the joints, bones, muscles, soft tissue, and the spinal cord. Back and neck injuries can be debilitating, as they are often extraordinarily painful when you move. These injuries can require a diagnosis, physical therapy, pain management, and may even require surgery.
- Spinal cord injury – The spinal cord is responsible for sending signals to many organs and parts of the body to allow proper functioning, movement, and sensation. When the tissue of the spine is damaged, the signals can be disrupted, which leads to disruption in the functioning of the body below the point of the damage. Spinal cord injuries need immediate medical attention to prevent complications and ensure the victim is stabilized. Then, treatment can include hospitalization, physical therapy, surgery, and more. Some spinal cord injuries heal over time but others can result in permanent paralysis and loss of functioning.
The above are only a few examples of the serious injuries that can result from a trip and fall. These injuries all have the potential to result in extensive losses for fall victims, so it is important for anyone who has tripped and fallen to be aware of their legal rights.
Trip and Fall Losses
Anyone who has been injured knows that injuries can be costly in many different ways. Not only do the medical bills pile up quickly but those bills can come in conjunction with other financial and physical struggles. Every trip and fall case will be different, so it is important to have an attorney handling your case who can identify all possible losses in your case.
- Medical expenses – Medical treatment is expensive and a long course of treatment can cost thousands of dollars. In addition, injuries that cause lasting effects may require ongoing treatment for years after your accident. The costs of future medical treatment can be estimated so that you can seek compensation for all of the treatment you will need due to your fall.
- Lost earnings – Many injuries may prevent you from doing your job for several reasons. If your treatment requires time in the hospital or requires you to rest, you will have to miss work. In addition, some injuries may limit your movement and abilities in a manner that keeps you from performing your job duties and some disabling injuries may prevent you from ever returning to your previous work. All of your past and future lost earnings are compensable losses in a trip and fall claim.
- Intangible losses – Unlike financial losses like medical bills and lost income, intangible losses are those that affect your life and how you feel. These can include pain and suffering caused by your injury, mental trauma from your injuries, permanent disabilities or impairments caused by your injury, loss of enjoyment of life, and more.
It is impossible to know the value of a trip and fall claim without carefully reviewing the losses you specifically incurred after your accident. In order to have the worth of your case assessed properly, please contact the law office of Stewart J. Guss as soon as possible. We know how to calculate your losses to ensure that you seek the maximum possible amount of damages in your claim.
Who Is Liable for Your Trip and Fall Accident?
In order to receive compensation for your trip and fall-related losses, you must determine who—if anyone—can be held liable for your accident. As mentioned above, some falls happen out of mere clumsiness or due to factors that were beyond anyone’s control. In such situations, the law will not hold others responsible for your injuries. However, in many cases, one or more parties may have acted negligently and caused your injuries.
Take, for example, a trip and fall accident that happens in a store or another type of business. If a business is going to open its doors to the public it has a duty to make sure that it keeps its facility reasonably safe. This means that it must promptly repair or remedy any condition that might cause one of its patrons to trip and fall and hurt themselves. At a minimum, they must issue a reasonable warning of the danger. Unfortunately, these businesses do not always take reasonable care, and you may have suffered a trip and fall accident as a result.
Businesses and property owners that are expecting visitors or patrons should regularly inspect the premises for any possible hazards and should repair any issues as soon as possible. If a condition exists that cannot be rectified, proper warnings must be given to customers so that they can take care to avoid the hazard.
Some examples of dangerous conditions that may cause a trip and fall accident include:
- Electrical wires that are not adequately secured to the wall
- Debris that has fallen onto walkways
- Displays, shelves, or merchandise that protrudes into walkways
- Boxes or other supplies left on the floor
- Rugs or carpets that are not secured
- Small steps or ramps that have insufficient warnings
When a business breaches its duty to keep the premises safe and a visitor or customer is injured, that business can be held liable for all of the losses stemming from any injuries suffered.
Compensation can be sought in different ways after a trip and fall accident. In many situations, the negligent business or property owner will have insurance policies to cover injuries suffered on the premises due to negligence. Insurance claims can become complicated, however, and the insurance company may try to challenge liability in the accident or the extent of your losses. Insurance companies may try to get you to accept a settlement offer that is too low while giving up your right to any further compensation. All too often, trip and fall victims accept an insurance payment only to later realize its inadequacy with little to no options.
It is critical to have the assistance of a personal injury attorney throughout any insurance claim process. A lawyer can identify the value of your losses to ensure you do not accept an amount that will not cover your losses. The attorneys at Stewart J. Guss, Attorney at Law know how to present evidence to support your claim and negotiate with an insurance company for the true settlement you deserve.
In cases involving serious trip and fall injuries, an insurance claim may not be enough to cover past and future losses. In these situations, it may be necessary to file a legal claim for personal injury in a Houston civil court. Trip and fall lawsuits involve specific legal concepts under premises liability law. These claims are different from cases stemming from other accidents, such as car or truck accidents. You should always make sure that you have the help of a law firm with specific experience handling premises liability cases.
The attorneys at Stewart J. Guss understand the entire legal process of a trip and fall claim—from dealing with insurance companies to resolving a case in court. Please do not delay in calling to learn more about the many ways we can help you after an accidental injury.
Houston Slip and Fall Accident FAQs
Slip and fall accidents may seem minor and commonplace, but the truth is they can result in serious injuries. Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions (FAQs) about slip and falls in Houston.
What is a slip and fall accident?
Slip and fall accidents (also known as trip and falls, or slip, trip, and falls) are exactly what they sound like. They occur when someone slips (or trips) and takes a tumble. Because they can often be prevented when proper safety precautions are in place, slip and fall accidents are a category within premises liability law.
There are multiple examples of slip and fall accidents. Victims of slip and fall accidents may slip on an office lobby’s polished floor because people with umbrellas have tracked in rain. Victims may slip and fall in a convenience store because a child has spilled juice. They may trip over improperly laid carpet tacks in a hotel’s new carpet. Tenants and guests may trip and fall down poorly maintained or unlit stairs in a hotel or apartment building, or grab a faulty handrail that breaks. Shoppers may stumble and fall on cracked or uneven pavement in a store’s parking lot.
The common denominator in all these accidents is the same: dangerous conditions exist in which someone could slip and fall—and someone does.
What causes a slip and fall accident?
In a word: negligence.
Business owners and proprietors, such as landlords, all owe what the law terms a “duty of care” to the public. This means they must make sure that conditions are safe at all times, and hazards are quickly noticed and eliminated. If conditions are not safe, the business owner or proprietor has let you down and can be said to have breached the duty of care.
Now, we all know that conditions can become unsafe in the course of daily life. If a child spills juice in a store, that isn’t the store owner’s fault. If carpet is improperly tacked down and you stumble over it, it’s the fault of the installation company. If rain makes a highly polished floor wet and slippery, multiple umbrellas can be to blame. Roots from a growing tree can cause cracks in pavement.
However, the law doesn’t let the owner entirely off the hook in these cases. Owners are responsible for noticing and correcting the dangerous condition as soon as they become aware of it. In other words, they must mop up the juice, tack down the carpet, dry the floor, and repair the sidewalk. They must ensure their buildings receive routine maintenance and inspection, and are well-lit, stable, and secure. That’s part of the duty of care.
In addition to noticing and eliminating dangers in a timely manner, owners, renters, or occupiers must also warn the public appropriately. In many cases, that means putting signage, safety cones, rope, or warning tape around a dangerous area, or otherwise clearly warning the public that the area is dangerous and to avoid it.
Who is responsible if I slip and fall?
If you slip and fall in public, the person who breached the duty of care can be found responsible for your accident. (Remember, negligence is a breach of the duty of care to maintain safe premises.) A negligent party can be held liable for your accident and the resulting injuries. This sounds straightforward enough, but all too often, business owners and proprietors will try to blame the victims.
If you try to bring an insurance claim or a personal injury claim against a store owner for your slip and fall, for instance, the store owner may state that the accident was your fault. They may argue that you ignored warnings or were predisposed to falling. Unhelpful insurance companies might also claim your injuries were pre-existing, or try to downplay their severity.
Because of these well-worn arguments, it’s a good idea to consult an attorney if you are in a slip and fall accident. An experienced slip and fall attorney will be familiar with countering these victim-blaming arguments, and can compile and present evidence that shows the true extent of your suffering.
How common are slip and fall accidents?
Falls of all types are a surprisingly common source of injury and even death. According to a report conducted by the National Safety Council, approximately 9.2 million people were treated in emergency rooms for falls in just one year. Falls are one of the leading causes of death on construction sites, for instance, and they are also a leading cause of death for the elderly.
How may I be injured in a slip and fall accident?
Slip and fall injuries can range from mild and quick-to-heal – such as cuts or sprains -t, to catastrophic injuries, which render victims unable to speak or move. For example, people can suffer traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) or spinal cord injuries if they fall in a certain way or from a certain height. (The definition of a catastrophic injury is one where the person becomes unable to perform daily activities, and their life is irreversibly changed.)
Potential injuries resulting from a slip and fall accident include:
- Broken bones
- Soft tissue injuries
- Internal organ damage
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
- Spinal cord injuries
- Back injuries
- Neck injuries
- Scars or disfigurement
- Missing or chipped teeth
What is my case worth?
In a slip and fall case, you may be entitled to compensation for:
- Medical bills
- Future medical bills, if expected
- Loss of wages from work
- Future loss of wages from work, if expected
- Lost earning power if your injury rendered you unable to work at a former job, forced you to take a lower-paying position, or left you unable to work at all
- Physical pain and suffering directly caused by the injury
- Emotional pain and suffering from trauma related to the slip and fall or the injury
- Permanent effects of an injury, such as disfigurement, impairment, or disability
Damages for all insurance and legal claims are computed in several ways. The total damages depend greatly on the nature and extent of your injuries and the impact they had on your life. In other words, the monetary compensation of someone who sprained an ankle will be different than someone who suffered a traumatic brain injury, because the TBI is a much more serious injury that may last a lifetime.
Arriving at your desired dollar amount of compensation means tracking specific details of your injury and treatment. A skilled lawyer can assist you with this.
First off, it’s fairly easy to provide documentation for medical bills you’ve already incurred, but predictions for future bills may require testimony from your healthcare providers or expert testimony from acknowledged leaders in the field.
Second, compensation for lost wages from work is easily calculated by multiplying your wages by the time you had to miss from work. Future lost wages and lost earnings power may require expert medical testimony or testimony from your employer, as it can be hard to predict how long you’ll be incapacitated.
Last but not least, non-monetary damages like your pain and suffering are much more subjective. Typically, a multiplier for pain and suffering is applied to your economic damages.If you have an injury that is expected to heal fairly easily and quickly, your multiplier may be on the lower end of the scale. However, if your injury is catastrophic, you will likely be assigned a multiplier for pain and suffering on the high end of the scale. Our experienced Houston slip and fall lawyers know how to properly evaluate your claim so that you get the compensation you deserve under the law.
What if the store owner isn’t around?
Property owners, renters, or occupants are generally responsible for making sure that their public premises are reasonably safe. However, owners, renters, and occupants are not always available. Sometimes, a store employee may be the only individual present when your slip and fall accident occurs. Furthermore, managers and other employees are often the people who first notice a condition that could potentially cause someone to slip and be injured.
Property owners, renters, and occupants, however, are responsible for training their employees to understand the safety standards, scheduled upkeep and maintenance procedures, and protocol for warning patrons of unsafe conditions. An absent store owner is no excuse for a violation of the duty of care.
Do I need to file a claim within a certain time period?
Yes. In Texas, there is a time period within which injured parties must file any suit(s) against defendants who caused the victim’s injuries. Generally, that time limit is two years from the date of the injury. This time frame is referred to as a statute of limitations. Time is of the essence – after the statute of limitations passes, it is highly unlikely that a court will hear your case at all.
What should I do if I am hurt in a slip and fall accident?
It may not be completely clear what you should do if you’re injured in a slip and fall. In general, though, there are some guidelines to follow.
1. Prioritize your own health and safety.
If you are hurt or harmed in a slip and fall accident, you have every right to take care of your own health and safety first.Don’t be afraid to call an ambulance or ask someone else to call one for you.
If you are hurt but not so seriously that you need an ambulance, you should still see a doctor as soon as possible. A doctor can give you a thorough diagnosis and treat your injuries. Be sure to keep all records of your appointments and other medical visits, including those for hospitals, emergency rooms, urgent care clinics, and pharmacies.
2. Notify the manager.
If you do not need an ambulance, be sure to notify the manager on duty of your fall. The manager needs to know of any dangerous conditions on the premises so they can rectify them. Also, should you later decide to bring forth a claim and you failed to notify the manager at the time of the accident, the defense may use this fact to make it seem as if you weren’t that injured or concerned at the time of the incident.
3. Take pictures.
If you have a smartphone or camera, take multiple photos of the area where your slip and fall happened. Take photos of spills, broken lights or equipment, or other hazards that may have contributed to your injury. Take wide shots of the scene to note a lack of warning signs or markers. Additionally, take photos of your injuries. (If there are bruises or swelling, they may not appear right away and you should take photos of the developments at home over the next few days.) All of this is vital evidence to ensure the most successful outcome for your case.
If you have additional questions on a slip and fall case or premises liability law, we’re here for you. Reach out and contact our experienced Houston lawyers today.
Why You Should Choose the Stewart J. Guss Firm
- Stewart Guss and his team believe in respect, integrity, and family values
- Our attorneys and staff will always be there for you!
- With decades of combined experience, Stewart and his team will work tirelessly to recover as much as possible on your claim
- Trip and fall cases can be very complex, involve serious injuries, and require an experienced attorney
- You don’t pay us anything unless we win your case!
Choose an Attorney with Strength and Experience
Trip and fall cases present some unique challenges and many personal injury attorneys do not even take them. In order to win a trip and fall case in Texas, you have to be able to prove three basic things:
- That the party responsible for the premises knew or should have known of the dangerous condition
- That the responsible party failed to fix or warn of the dangerous condition; and
- That the dangerous condition caused the injury
Unfortunately, the law in Texas tends to lean on the side of the business, rather than the side of the injured party. Further, a trip and fall injury typically results in some very specific and extremely serious physical injuries which may be different from your typical personal injury case. For this reason, you need an experienced trip and fall lawyer, like the attorneys at Stewart J. Guss, to help you navigate the obstacles of your claim and pursue your legal rights.
If you have you sustained a trip and fall injury in Houston, Katy, Spring, The Woodlands, Cypress, Tomball, or anywhere in Texas, then it is important to speak to a Houston personal injury lawyer as soon as you can. To schedule a free case evaluation with the attorneys of Stewart J. Guss, Attorney at Law, call today at (866) 437-3820 or send us an . Remember—you pay us nothing up front when we take your case, and you pay us nothing unless and until we’ve won your recovery.
When other Houston trip and fall injury lawyers are giving up, the attorneys at Stewart J. Guss are usually just getting started. Do not sign anything until you speak with us because you risk losing some or all of the compensation that is due to you. Stewart Guss and his team will do everything they can to obtain the best possible recovery on your claim, and we take pride in treating our clients like family. Pick up the phone and call (866) 437-3820 to talk to us about your accident.
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“Stewart Guss Legal Services. Stewart Guss was very efficient in the handling of my case. He explained my rights thoroughly and kept me informed of all negotiations. I would recommend his services to anyone needing assistance with their injury claim.”-Janet T.