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Documenting the circumstances of your fall and getting help right away are the most important steps to take. Otherwise, you could be making a big mistake. Learn what you need to do after a slip and fall injury.
In a slip and fall case, the sooner, the better. It doesn’t take long for evidence to start disappearing and insurance companies to start undermining your claim. Find out the perfect time to hire an attorney to help you.
Hiring a lawyer may sound intimidating, but really, it’s empowering. By managing the claim for you, we free you up to focus on recovery. Find out how a lawyer can make your life easier after a slip and fall accident.
Answers you’ll find here:
What Should You Do After a Slip and Fall?
When Should I Hire a Lawyer?
Hiring a Lawyer Sounds Scary. Is It?
How Can Our New Jersey Lawyers Help You?
Why Do You Need Compensation for a Slip and Fall Injury?
How Do Slip and Fall Cases Work?
What Dangerous Conditions Lead to Slip and Falls?
Slip and Fall Lawsuits and Insurance Companies
What Compensation Can You Get for Your Injuries?
What Is My Slip and Fall Case Worth?
How Much Will a Slip and Fall Lawyer Cost?
Slip and fall FAQs: Your Slip and Fall Questions Answered
What if a Slip and Fall Turns Into a Wrongful Death Claim?
How Much Time Do I Have to Pursue a Slip and Fall Claim?
What at first seemed like an embarrassing incident has proven to be so much more than you expected. You slipped and fell. Then, you got up and tried to walk it off.
It hurt, but not, you thought, as much as your pride. You didn’t want to make a bigger deal of the fall than necessary – not with the faces of the other shoppers, diners, or visitors to a private residence staring at you like that. You’d feel better after a couple hours, or at most, a couple days.
But you didn’t feel better. If anything, now you feel even worse. What started as an aching back, arm, or leg is now a source of such unbearable pain that it’s limiting how you can move and what you can do. Work is getting harder and harder to keep up with, and home treatments like ice packs and over-the-counter pain relievers just aren’t enough.
Now, you’re starting to worry what will happen if things carry on this way – if the fall was more serious than you realized.
This is no time for wishful thinking. The only way this problem is going away is if you get the money you need to pay for the costs of rehabilitation. And that means having a New Jersey slip and fall lawyer on your side.
If you just slipped and fell, here’s what you need to know right now – the top 10 things to do after a slip and fall.
The most important thing you must do after a slip and fall is to see a doctor. But nearly as important is protecting your legal rights by hiring a New Jersey slip and fall lawyer.
Once you have a doctor to treat you and an attorney to handle your case, this will all get easier. From then on, your most important job is simply to work toward recovery.
Hiring a lawyer as soon as you reasonably can is in your best interests after a slip and fall.
By this, we don’t mean that we expect you to call an attorney as you’re lying on the floor in pain. The immediate aftermath of a slip and fall is too hectic for you to possibly think of that. But it’s virtually never too early after an accident to have that initial (free) conversation with an attorney.
Getting an early start is crucial to investigating your claim thoroughly.
It also puts us in position to open the claim with the insurance company for you, which both removes this burden from you and allows us to make sure you don’t make any common mistakes when dealing with the insurance company.
And, of course, talking to you shortly after the accident means we can offer you more help when you need it most. Whether you’re not sure how to go about getting medical care based on the symptoms you have, you have questions about who is at fault, or you just want to better understand your legal rights, we’re able to draw on our decades of experience to give you reliable answers. You can’t count on getting the right information if you turn to Google or to well-meaning but ill-informed friends and family members for advice.
What happens if you do call a lawyer “too early?”
Well, we may need to wait until you see a doctor about your injuries to tell you for sure if you have a claim, but we can still help steer you in the right direction regardless. You certainly can’t lose anything, since you aren’t being charged for the conversation.
If you hire our lawyers early on to represent you and decide later on that your injury isn’t really serious enough to pursue the claim, you can close out your case at no cost. You had us in place as a safety net, which is the smart thing to do, and you lost nothing by doing so.
We get it – hiring a lawyer is no one’s first choice. You’d rather this injury go away on its own, with no need for a legal ordeal. For that matter, you’d rather the accident never happened in the first place.
But now that it has, hiring an attorney really is necessary – even if it’s a scary step.
That, we think, is what makes hiring a lawyer so intimidating. It’s not us (at least, we hope not – especially once you meet our attorneys yourself).
It’s really the worry about the legal process: what it entails, what it asks of you, what you risk when you undertake it.
A lot of what makes this whole process so scary is the fact that, unless you have a law school education yourself, you probably don’t know much about it. Your attorney will help you make sense of it all and handle the legwork for you, but first, you need to resolve to actually hire one.
You know what’s a hundred times scarier than hiring a lawyer?
It takes bravery to reach out to an attorney, just as it does to ask for help in any other context. But, whatever your reason for fighting back – your family, your passion, your indefatigable spirit – it’s a good enough reason to make hiring a lawyer a priority.
You’re not eager to sue for a slip and fall. Neither are most of our clients.
But, once they’re faced with the reality of what life with a serious and preventable injury is like, they realize that filing a claim is the only prudent thing to do to protect their family and preserve their financial stability. Until it happens to you, it’s almost impossible to grasp just how many things a slip and fall injury steals out of your life: your health, your career, your savings, and even your freedom.
In a perfect world, you wouldn’t need a lawyer, because this accident would never have happened in the first place. But, in the real world, not only do accidents happen – they also set off chain reactions that continue to cause you real, serious harm long after the day you fell.
A New Jersey slip and fall lawyer steps in to stop this chain reaction in its tracks and make sure that you are fully made whole for every single loss this accident has caused. We’ll work relentlessly to get you every dollar of compensation you deserve – money that will cover everything from missing out on income to planning for the expense of future medical care.
Here’s what our slip and fall attorneys will do for you:
If you’re wondering if you really need compensation for a slip and fall injury, here are the things you need to think about:
Can you sue for these non-tangible things like quality of life?
It’s certainly harder to put a number on considerations like the physical and emotional pain and suffering you have gone through, but that doesn’t mean you don’t deserve compensation for them. We call losses of this nature “non-economic damages,” and we fight hard to get the money you deserve for them.
After all, the money you receive can help minimize the impact of the injury on your quality of life by allowing you to adjust your routine, modify your home or work environment and afford assistive devices and outside help that can help you regain your quality of life.
You can’t simply offset the full range of consequences of a serious slip and fall. Unless it was such a minor injury that you needed little medical care, missed little or no time at work, and were completely back to your old self almost immediately, you really do need compensation for what this accident has put you through.
Even if you’ve heard of slip and fall personal injury cases, you never thought that you would have to pursue one. There’s a good chance you have no idea what to expect from the slip and fall claims process. In our experience, most claimants don’t.
As your guides and advocates, we want to make sure you know everything you want to know about the elements of a slip and fall claim (so we’ll go into that more in the next section). First, though, here are the basics you need to know about slip and fall claims – the challenges, the role of a lawyer, who you can sue, and who will pay for the harm you’ve suffered.
There are certain elements you must prove to show that you deserve compensation for your slip and fall, but proving these elements isn’t easy.
You need evidence strong enough to get past a host of common defenses the at-fault party regularly relies on in cases like this.
You need on your side someone who can competently and confidently argue for your best interests – someone who won’t back down just because the defendant tries to shift the blame to you or suggest that no one is really at fault.
Here are some of the biggest challenges that arise in a slip and fall claim:
How do you fight back when these challenges threaten to undermine your slip and fall claim? Your best option is to hire an experienced lawyer.
Establishing the facts that warrant compensation is among the most important roles your attorney has. In fact, launching the investigation to gather evidence to support your case is how we begin our work for you. We meticulously identify every possible piece of evidence that could be valuable to your claim and track it down for you, making sure that it hasn’t been tampered with.
When needed, we also hire independent experts who can shed more light on what caused your fall, so that the defendant can’t get away with even subtle forms of negligence that may not be evident without their highly trained eyes. We do the same diligence when proving your damages – looking at the big picture to recognize even losses that you may not be aware of yet, gathering complete documentation of every one of these harms, and bringing in experts if necessary who can speak to the severity of your injuries.
Of course, your lawyer’s role doesn’t end with building a file of evidence in your favor. Far from being passive, our attorneys are actively representing you and your interests daily, initiating settlement demands and keeping the insurance adjuster’s attention focused consistently on your claim. We won’t let your needs go ignored or your claim lag behind needlessly while your family suffers.
From formal legal proceedings to less formal settlement negotiations, we represent our clients throughout every step of the process.
If our job has one primary goal, it’s to get you the compensation you deserve. The research shows that you need a lawyer to get the most money.
In fact, lawyers get, on average, 3.5 times what claimants with no legal representation get for themselves.
Any person who negligently maintains a property could be named in a lawsuit for a slip and fall that ensues. Depending on the facts of your case – where and how you fell, for example – you may sue any of the following parties (or some combination of defendants):
It can be difficult to determine exactly which party is responsible for your injury. If you fell in a store in a mall, for example, do you sue the company renting and doing business in the store, the owner of the entire mall, the professional cleaning and custodian service used by the store, or someone else?
Once you retain an attorney, figuring out this conundrum is no longer your problem. We look closely at precisely who was responsible for the aspect of property maintenance relevant to your fall. We will name in your lawsuit any party that played a role in your injury to make sure that you aren’t missing out on any of the compensation you deserve.
One reason many slip and fall victims opt not to pursue the compensation they need is the fear of who else is harmed financially when they receive a settlement.
If you fell at a friend’s home, a neighbor’s backyard barbecue, or a favorite mom-and-pop store or restaurant, you may worry that suing is selfish. As much as you legitimately do need the money, you don’t want to take that money from a person you love or a local small business.
Rest assured that this isn’t how it works.
Commercial businesses and homeowners have insurance policies in place to cover the costs of accidents just like yours, because they know this kind of accident could happen. Filing a slip and fall claim doesn’t mean wiping out your friend’s savings or putting the future of a small business in jeopardy. It just means using the insurance benefits the homeowner or business has already bought specifically for this possibility.
Of course, there are limitations in insurance payments, too. For example, the defendant’s insurance company will only pay claims up to the amount of the policy limits.
What exactly do you have to prove to move forward with a slip and fall lawsuit? There are very specific elements involved in a slip and fall claim. Among the most important of these elements are liability, negligence, and what constitutes a dangerous condition of a property.
In the legal world, liability is a term that means a person or entity is at fault for, and legally responsible for the consequences of, a situation.
What does it mean to have a duty of care? Generally, the person who owns a property or uses it for business purposes has a duty to keep the premises in reasonably safe condition for normal use. That duty is more extensive in certain situations than in others.
On commercial properties, people visiting to shop, dine, purchase services, or enjoy events and entertainment are considered business invitees. Businesses owe their invitees the highest duty of care possible. Not only must they keep all customer areas, from parking lot walkways to store aisles, free of safety hazards, but they must also inspect the property to ensure that it remains safe.
The burden is less restrictive on the owners of private, residential properties like single-family homes. As an invited guest to a person’s home, your host owes you a duty to keep the property safe and warn you of any potential hazards but is not required to inspect the property specifically for your safety.
Determining liability means looking at the facts to determine if the property owner was negligent in some way that allowed a dangerous condition to exist on the premises.
Just because you fell in a store or at someone’s home doesn’t always mean you can sue. Negligence isn’t automatic. Instead, you must prove that an unsafe condition on the property is what caused your injury – not pure bad luck or a poor decision or moment of clumsiness on your own part.
The negligence of a property owner can take many different forms. You may have a claim if you can trace the cause of your slip and fall back to the property owner’s:
Negligence commonly goes along with failing to act, but it doesn’t always mean that the property owner or manager has done nothing. Sometimes, it means that the attempts to warn of danger or fix the problem weren’t enough – or even that they made things worse.
What steps can a property owner take that fail to meet their duty of care? Here are a couple of examples:
Comparative Negligence in Slip and Fall Claims
As you can see, determining fault for a slip and fall accident is challenging. Matters get even more complicated if there’s an element of comparative negligence to your situation.
Comparative negligence means that you, the plaintiff, are partially at fault for the accident.
Could you have done more to avoid the accident? Should you? Honestly, that determination depends on the unique facts of your situation.
New Jersey’s comparative negligence law allows you to sue for an accident even if you were partly at fault, as long as you were not more than 50 percent at fault. Even if, in hindsight, you think you could have done more to avoid the fall, you may still have the grounds for a case if the other party should also have done more to prevent the accident. However, the defendant’s insurance company may not tell you this. It’s in the insurer’s best interests to dissuade you from pursuing a claim at all, no matter what further harm your family suffers from it.
The hazardous conditions that could cause a slip and fall accident are varied and almost countless. However, they all have a few things in common:
The following are just a sample of the many types of dangerous conditions that cause slip and falls that our New Jersey attorneys have encountered during our decades-long careers:
|Causes of Slip and Fall Accidents|
|Uneven or broken pavement or sidewalks|
|Holes in the grass or ground|
|Walkway cracks caused by tree roots|
|Wet or icy exterior walkways|
|Weather-related hazards like snow, ice, and rain|
|Wet or slippery interior floors|
|Freshly mopped floors|
|Floors so highly polished that there is insufficient traction for walking|
|Structural and surface conditions and defects|
|Obstructions, clutter, or debris that pose a tripping hazard|
|Loose or unsecured wires and cables|
|Snags or bumps in carpet|
|Worn or ragged carpet|
|Upturned rugs or rolled up mats|
|Loose carpeting or treads on stairs|
|Missing, broken or improperly positioned handrails|
|Broken or uneven stairs|
|Code violations of stairs or handrails|
|Malfunctioning escalators or elevators|
|Weak fences and railings on upper-level balconies, overlooks, and walkways|
|Absent, inadequate or poorly placed warnings and signs|
Often, outdoor slip and falls occur in the parking lots and walkways of businesses or in the yards of private residences. You can sue for a slip and fall that happens outside, especially if there are clear defects like cracked curbs and walkways and unmarked potholes or poor lighting that makes hazards hard to see in the dark.
Many outdoor slip and falls are weather-related, occurring because of ice buildup. It’s especially important to prove this type of hazard existed through photographs, detailed descriptions, and witness reports, since this condition will change as the storm progresses or the ice melts.
From a practical standpoint, it doesn’t matter if a floor is slippery due to a spill, a fresh mopping, or an overachieving polishing job. For safety, there needs to be enough traction when a person wearing regular footwear walks on the surface – otherwise, there should be a visible warning posted. If you think that you can’t sue over a slippery floor just because it wasn’t wet, don’t be so quick to give up your right to pursue a claim.
When the floor itself is damaged, as is the case with chipped or cracked tiles, buckled wood, and loose floorboards, a permanent fix may be more complex than just cleaning a mess. That doesn’t give property owners a pass – they still need to block off the area or warn people of the danger with a visible sign.
Although the term is “slip and fall,” there are plenty of instances of dangerous “trip and falls,” too. Any type of clutter or other obstruction on the floor can cause a person to trip, but so can poor condition of the floor itself, especially when that floor is carpeted. Bumps, snags, and other imperfections in the carpet can pose subtle tripping hazards. If the carpet or matting is loose, you might have trouble getting the traction or flat surface you need to walk steadily. Rugs and mats that get rolled up can also cause you to trip.
Fall injuries are particularly devastating when they happen from a height. Some of the worst instances of slip and fall injuries our attorneys have encountered have resulted from falls down stairs.
There are many ways that stairs can pose a danger, and some of these ways may be imperceptible to the untrained eye. Lawyers often identify stair defects through careful inspection. By taking numerous types of measurements and consulting experts, we can identify any code violations in the structure and construction of the stairs themselves or in the placement, height, and positioning of the handrail.
These many types of safety hazards can occur anywhere, but in our considerable experience handling slip and fall lawsuits, they tend to happen more commonly in certain environments.
The most common slip and fall locations include:
Remember, to have a claim, the slip and fall must be on someone else’s property, not your own home (the exception being if, as a tenant, you can make an argument that your landlord failed to address a safety hazard on the property you rent, but the landlord must have been made aware of the hazard).
Slips and fall accidents are the leading cause of workers’ compensation claims, with 85 percent of these claims attributed to falls on slick floors, the National Floor Safety Institute reported. They are also the leading cause of occupational injury for people aged 55 years and older. The total compensation and medical costs associated with employee slip/fall accidents is approximately $70 billion annually.
Slip and fall accidents are avoidable. Preventing them is as simple as keeping up with that duty to carefully maintain a property. The problem is that many property owners ignore hazards and fail to take the proper safety measures until after an innocent person gets hurt.
Insurance companies, not individuals or small businesses, are the ones who pay the settlements for a slip and fall claim. They do this through a type of liability insurance that is sometimes called “slip and fall insurance coverage.” Generally, slip and fall coverage is included as part of the liability insurance coverage businesses usually purchase to protect themselves in the course of doing business.
Since protecting policyholders from the financial impact of a claim is the reason which insurance companies exist, you might think getting compensation for an accident will be no big deal. Unfortunately, the insurance company isn’t on your side.
In a survey spanning all demographic groups across all regions of the United States, nearly 30 percent of respondents reported feeling that they had been taken advantage of by an insurance company. And that’s in the general population, not specific to people pursuing an insurance claim! Trusting the insurance company to do what’s best for you as a plaintiff is naive and dangerous.
It can be shocking – like a punch to the gut – when the insurance company says your claim has been denied.
You’re stunned, speechless, and even breathless. How could the adjuster look at all you’ve been through and say you don’t have a claim?
Although it’s hard, please try not to take it personally (easier said than done, we know). Denying and defending liability is the first-line stance insurance companies take when they’re “processing” claims. As outrageous as it seems, blaming the victim is par for the course, because it’s often an effective way of getting people who really deserve compensation to give up trying to get it.
Defendants and their insurers employ many types of defenses to try to get out of paying slip and fall claims.
Victim blaming often masquerades as the “open and obvious” defense. In other words, the defendant claims that the hazard that caused your fall was so obvious that the defendant shouldn’t have needed to warn you of the danger. You should have been more careful, the defendant implies.
The “open and obvious” defense is fairly common, and make no mistake, it’s used because it’s effective. But that doesn’t mean that the insurance company is right every time it tries to hide behind this defense. Often, plaintiffs who really do have a case hear that they are the ones to blame for the accident – not because it’s true, but because hearing this may be enough to dissuade you from moving forward with a claim.
Sometimes a defendant denies any knowledge that the slip and fall even happened in the first place. In this situation, what happened isn’t your word against theirs – it’s your word, and only your word, that the accident happened at all.
Without evidence to the contrary, it won’t take long for the insurance company to suggest that they fall never happened to begin with and that your claim is entirely fraudulent. That’s why it’s so important that you document a slip and fall right away by reporting it to the property owner or a store manager or associate.
If you didn’t think to report the accident at the time it happened, then whether or not you have a claim depends on the strength of your evidence. Did you take photographs? Did anyone see your fall, and if so, did you get their contact information? All of these details can corroborate your story of what happened.
Getting an attorney on your side is especially crucial when the property manager wasn’t promptly notified of the accident. We can draw on our experience to identify any other possible sources of evidence. We’ll find out if a store has any surveillance cameras in the vicinity of where you fell and, if so, demand that the store preserve that footage. Otherwise, the property owner may well write over that footage, either to hide what really happened or merely as part of company policy.
If the insurance company can’t shift the blame for the fall to you or deny it happened in the first place, questioning the severity of your damages may be the next best thing. In essence, it’s saying, “yes, the fall happened, but it wasn’t that bad.”
This is more than insulting – so much more. Minimizing your injuries is a direct attempt to deprive you of the money you deserve. The compensation you’re entitled to is based primarily on the damages you suffered. If the insurance company can argue that your damages weren’t serious, it can get away with paying you much less or nothing at all.
Sometimes the troubles you have with the insurance company are subtler than direct claim denials. If the insurance adjuster takes a lot of time to respond to your messages, fails to send paperwork when promised, or otherwise seems to have no sense of urgency when it comes to your claim, the insurance company may be relying on the old standby of delaying the claim.
Why delay the claim? From the insurance company’s point of view, the best-case scenario is that you will get frustrated with the entire situation and give up trying to get the settlement you deserve. If that happens, the insurer gets to keep all of the money for itself.
Even if you don’t actually give up, the insurance company can still keep you from getting anything for your claim by delaying it. There’s a statute of limitations, or a deadline, by which you must file a lawsuit for a slip and fall claim. If the insurance company assures you that it is processing your claim and you don’t need a lawyer but then delays paying the claim long enough, you could miss this window and lose out on your right to file a lawsuit. At that point, it’s easy to either deny the claim entirely or make a tiny “nuisance” payment, because now you have no other options.
If you’re more persistent than that, you may eventually get the money, but the insurance company still wins. Supposes you settle for less just to put the whole frustrating situation behind you. The insurer keeps more of the money that’s rightfully yours. Even if you get the same amount of money as you would have gotten otherwise, the insurance company has benefitted from delaying your payout because it got to keep those funds invested longer – and reap the financial benefits.
Maybe the scenarios we’ve described sound nothing like what you’ve experienced with the insurance company.
Instead of blame, claim denials, or the runaround, the insurance adjuster has been consistently in contact, always pleasant and sympathetic. There’s been a lot of talk about getting this wrapped up quickly for you, and the adjuster even offered you a settlement.
You must have really dodged a bullet by getting so lucky, right?
Wrong! Get a lawyer right now, before it’s too late. Otherwise, you’re settling for a lot less than you deserve.
Insurance companies usually offer a tiny fraction of what the claim is really worth in their first settlement offer. We call this a “lowball” offer because it is so much lower than what you should accept.
You should know that the insurance adjuster usually only offers you money if the insurer believes it is unlikely to get out of paying the claim completely – in other words, if you have a good case.
And you can bet that this offer is less than you deserve. The insurance company is trying to get you to accept this small payout quickly, without giving it too much thought, so that you will waive your right to pursue the full amount of compensation you deserve.
Remember, the insurance company’s goal isn’t to help you get better but instead to pay as little as possible to claimants so that the company keeps all of the profits for itself. That’s why you need an attorney.
If you’ve ever heard of settlement amounts for slip and falls or other types of personal injury claims, the numbers may seem somewhat random. In reality, though, they are based on a number of factors, with the damages you suffered in the accident being among the most important.
Slip and fall damages fit into two general categories: economic and non-economic.
Economic damages include all of the harms and losses you have suffered that have a direct financial figure attached to them, such as:
Then there are non-economic damages, the type of damages that don’t have this obvious direct cost. Although they are hard to quantify, these non-economic damages are very real. In fact, some of them are among the things that make life after an accident so difficult to bear.
The success of your claim depends on the evidence. As you might guess, documenting the significance of non-economic damages is often more complicated than documenting economic damages. If you plan to seek compensation for non-economic damages, having a lawyer on your side is even more important.
Claiming and substantiating your non-economic losses is part of your attorney’s job. Because we’ve been in the business of handling personal injury lawsuits in New Jersey for more than 25 years, we have a strong background to draw from in determining how much money your non-economic damages entitle you to receive. You can be confident that we’re not just throwing out a number to see what happens – we’re basing our settlement demands on other legal precedents set by cases like yours all across New Jersey and on our in-depth knowledge of the legal market in your jurisdiction.
A lawyer can help you make sure the settlement covers all future needs as well as current needs – including some expenses you may not yet know to anticipate.
Slip and falls vary widely in severity. Some falls lead to only minor bruising – temporarily painful, but not so life-changing that it makes sense to pursue a lawsuit. Other slip and falls bring about a catastrophic personal injury, after which life will never be the same.
Often, victims who suffer soft tissue injuries, like herniated discs, believe at first that their injuries are minor. Over time, though, they begin to experience more persistent pain in the back or neck, the legs, or the arms. They may experience numbness, tingling, and unexplained weakness in the extremities that they don’t even realize is caused by the fall. If symptoms like these are beginning to affect your life, it’s time to see a doctor now, before any further damage occurs.
Here are some of the most common types of injuries our attorneys see in our slip and fall clients:
Slip and fall injuries can affect many different body parts:
Often, our clients initially find us not because they are looking for a lawyer necessarily, but because they are looking for answers about their injuries. They ask us questions like, Can a slip and fall cause…
Falls are a leading cause of severe injuries. About one in five falls lead to a broken bone, a head injury, or another severe injury, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported. Falls are also the most common cause of TBI, according to the CDC.
What exactly makes an injury severe? You’ll hear different answers to this question depending on who you ask.
To us, an injury that affects you in ways that significantly impact your life is severe – or at least, enough to make pursuing a claim worthwhile. Your medical care provider should be similarly sympathetic to your concerns.
However, the insurance company may take a different viewpoint. The insurance adjuster may try to tell you that, without a broken bone or another injury that appears clearly on an X-ray, you aren’t injured enough to make a claim.
When you’re living with constant pain, out of work, and unable to do the things you used to do, being told that your injuries aren’t “bad enough” can be unbelievably exasperating. We get it. So let us set the record straight on a couple of matters that the insurance company may try to obscure:
There are numerous factors that go into determining the case value of a slip and fall. The severity of your injury matters. So does the extent of your damages.
These two factors are related, but they aren’t the same. For example, a broken bone may be generally more severe than a soft tissue injury. However, if it doesn’t require surgery or physical therapy and doesn’t result in missed time from work, that case may be worth less than a soft tissue injury that results in months of physical therapy, missed work, and a microdiscectomy surgery.
Another factor to consider is the strength of your argument against the property owner. If you can show that the defendant is fully at fault for the accident, you will get more money than you would if you were determined to be partly at fault. That’s because, although New Jersey’s comparative negligence law allows you to sue even when you’re partly at fault, it also allows your compensation to be reduced by the amount by which you are found at fault.
Every slip and fall case is unique. The facts of your case – where and how you fell – and the damages you sustained are specific to you. So, to get a truly informed opinion on how much your case is worth, you need to consult an attorney directly (which you can do at no cost, since we offer free consultations and no-win, no-fee legal representation).
$475,000 Settlement for a Parking Lot Slip and Fall on Black Ice
A fall on black ice in the parking lot of her workplace left a phlebotomist permanently disabled.
She suffered herniated and bulging discs, severe headaches, nerve impingement, and such severe sprains and strains throughout her spine that she had to walk with a cane. Despite a year and a half of physical therapy, injections, chiropractic care and electric stimulation under the care of more than 12 different physicians and other providers, she never recovered enough to return to work or to care for and play with her young children the way she did before the accident.
We got her a settlement of $475,000 to help make life after the accident as painless as possible and to make it easier for her family to cope with her unexpected disability.
$400,000 Settlement for a Slip and Fall at NJ Target Store
When a Target shopper slipped on spilled bleach near the store exit and fell, she sustained multiple bulging discs in the lumbar region of her spine.
After years of working toward rehabilitation – and 2 surgeries – she still needed a walker to get around and help with basic household chores.
We fought hard to get her a $400,000 settlement that would not only cover the considerable costs of her medical care but also help her make the adjustments needed to have a better quality of life in spite of the permanent damage done by the slip and fall accident.
$265,000 Settlement for an On-the-Job Slip and Fall
What began as a normal day at work became life-changing when a delivery man fell down a basement stairwell.
Among his injuries was cervical myelopathy, a condition in which part of the spinal cord in his neck became compressed, rendering him permanently unable to return to his job or any other job of a physical nature. He lost his job and had to find work in a new career, cutting his income in half.
The $265,000 settlement we got for him included compensation for his lost wages and reduced earning capacity.
$160,000 Settlement for a Parking Lot Slip and Fall on Black Ice
Black ice in the parking lot sent a retiree rushing to the hospital with a fractured right arm.
It took over a year for him to recover from the grueling surgery required to set his broken arm with a rod, screws, and other hardware, and his prognosis remained “guarded,” with his providers expecting him to need additional procedures.
The $160,000 settlement we got him will make sure that the future surgeries he needs won’t be a financial burden.
$145,000 Settlement for a Fall Down the Stairs at a Resort
There were numerous hazards surrounding the old outdoor staircase at the resort where our client took a bad fall: a hole in the degraded concrete, poor lighting that hid the dangerous walking surface, and no handrail that could have saved her from tumbling down the stairs. In fact, her fall was the fourth one reported that day.
The fractured ankle she suffered necessitated a surgery to implant a metal plate and screws into her ankle and foot. Our client, a liaison to a foreign ambassador and active grandmother, couldn’t walk for two months – not to mention, care for her grandchildren or visit her 90-year-old mother in her nursing home.
The $145,000 settlement not only compensated our client for the serious harm she suffered – it also brought real consequences on the owner of the resort, who had allowed this dangerous condition to continue even when it was causing accidents on a daily basis.
It’s a common question: “Do I need a lawyer?”
Sure, as lawyers, we might seem a little biased on this topic, but hear us out: Every slip and fall victim should speak to an attorney, but not all slip and falls require legal representation.
What do we mean by this? First, we encourage anyone who has been the victim of a slip and fall or another type of accident to speak with a personal injury attorney to understand their rights and the legal process. Remember that speaking with a lawyer during a free consultation isn’t the same as hiring one to represent you. Even if you don’t need an attorney, and even if you choose not to pursue a case at all, it’s always wise to understand your rights and your options in a matter this serious. Consider it a safety net.
Now, onto that second part: Not all slip and falls require legal representation. If you really weren’t injured, or if the extent of your damages is relatively small, then you probably don’t need a lawyer. You could handle this small claim on your own, if you even feel that there’s enough in the way of damages to pursue a claim at all.
Why are we telling you this? Because it’s the right thing to do.
Due to the way attorney’s fees work in slip and fall cases in New Jersey, you never have to worry that a lawyer will try to persuade you to hire them and file a lawsuit when you don’t really have the grounds for a successful suit. Attorneys only get a percentage of what they win for you – so it doesn’t make sense for us to encourage you to pursue a losing claim or to get involved in a claim so small that we won’t add much value to you or get enough in attorneys’ fees to make our work worth it.
So, here’s our honest recommendation: Take advantage of the offer of a free consultation to talk to an attorney and find out the answers to your questions at no cost. Ask if your case is one for which you will need an attorney. If the answer is no, we’ll tell you so.
There are 3 reasons specific to slip and fall claims why a lawyer is crucial to succeeding in a lawsuit of this nature:
Fault in a slip and fall matter isn’t usually clear. It’s much easier for defendants and insurers to deny liability for slip and falls than it is for matters such as car accidents, in which there are very specific rules and responsibilities for drivers on the road. As a result, you’re more likely to need help to prove liability in a slip and fall case.
Defendants usually try to downplay injuries and damages in slip and fall cases. Of course, this happens in other types of personal injury matters, too. However, in a car accident, seeing the damage done to the vehicle can help drive home the point of how serious the impact is. You don’t have that added factor in a slip and fall claim. If your injuries fall into the soft tissue category, in particular, the insurance adjuster is likely to dismiss it as a minor injury, no matter how much it impacts your life.
Insurance companies take a claim more seriously when there’s a lawyer involved. Unfortunately, that’s just the way it is. The legal process is a mystery to most people without specific training in law, and the insurance industry capitalizes on that. If you’re sick of the way the insurance adjuster is treating you or you just don’t have the time to waste going back and forth with the insurance company, hiring a lawyer will quickly encourage the insurer to start taking you seriously (not to mention, your attorney will take over interactions with the insurer, so that’s no longer your problem).
You know, now, how quickly falls happen. One second, everything was fine – the next, you’re on the ground, shocked and in pain. If you don’t know exactly what occurred, that’s okay. It’s actually really common. And it’s one of the reasons why having an attorney can be helpful.
A lawyer’s investigation into a slip and fall accident can reveal a lot about the cause of your fall. Suppose you fell down a stairwell. By thoroughly investigating the stairwell, we can identify subtle hazards – like step defects, uneven or inconsistent risers, and handrails placed at the wrong height – that may have been imperceptible to you in the moment but which can cause a dangerous fall.
With so many lawyers to choose from, how do you actually choose one?
The #1 thing you should look for in a lawyer is experience. You want your lawyer to have a history of success handling claims like yours over many years – preferably with more than one attorneys’ perspective – and real case results to prove it. After all, what is a more convincing indicator that your attorney has what it takes to win your case than a history of winning many other cases similar to yours?
It’s no coincidence that Console and Associates has won $100 million for our clients. By focusing our legal practice on personal injury matters exclusively, we’ve developed the skills to get our clients maximum compensation for their injury claims.
There’s this common misconception out there that’s keeping people who really need a slip and fall attorney from getting one. It’s this notion that attorneys cost too much.
This is a lie – but it’s one that more than half of people surveyed believe.
Slip and fall representation usually doesn’t cost anything upfront at all, because it’s typically provided on a no-win, no-fee basis.
Also called a contingency fee basis, this fee arrangement means that your lawyer gets a percentage of the amount he or she recovers for you.
When our law firm takes on a client, we also make a commitment to advance all of the costs of pursuing the claim. So, remember those experts whose opinions are so important to proving the liability and damages in your claim? They can easily cost thousands of dollars – but that expense is our problem, not yours, unless and until we win money for you.
Remember, the cost of a lawyer should only be part of the equation. The value an attorney can bring to your claim matters, too. An attorney will cost a percentage of your settlement but, remember, you should see a considerably higher payout with a lawyer than you would get on your own. On average, represented clients get 3.5 times more than claimants without legal representation.
It all starts with a free consultation. From the start, you’re getting the benefit of an attorney’s knowledge without having to pay anything out of pocket.
It’s normal to have questions after a slip and fall. Here are the answers to some of the most common questions our attorneys hear from our slip and fall clients.
Honestly, yes. Slip and fall cases are some of the most challenging personal injury matters to win.
Remember, it’s the plaintiff’s duty to establish and prove the negligence of the property owner, not the defendant’s duty to prove that they weren’t liable. That means you need to be able to make a compelling argument, backed by plenty of evidence, that the other party was at fault. Proving negligence and damages is difficult and requires meticulous investigation, documentation, and organization.
You also need to watch out for those problematic behaviors on the part of the insurance company – things like claim denials, victim-blaming defenses, claim delays, and lowball settlement offers.
These cases are hard to win, but experienced slip and fall attorneys are good at winning them. After all, we handle claims like yours every single day.
No! A lot of people blame themselves when it isn’t their fault.
You might say things like, “I should have been more careful” or “I’m so clumsy,” but it wasn’t your fault that there was a safety hazard on the property that wasn’t clearly marked. You have the right to expect a property, like a business of which you are a customer, to be safe.
Don’t be embarrassed by the fall. Not only is it very likely not your fault at all, it is also more common than you may think. Falls are the number-one cause of accidental injury, according to the National Floor Safety Institute. Injuries related to falls have historically accounted for more than 20 percent of all emergency room visits, the National Floor Safety Institute reported, and more than 30 percent of preventable, non-fatal injuries, the National Safety Council reported.
Since slip and fall lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, we can’t give you an exact rate you can expect to pay for your legal representation. Instead, it will be a percentage – starting at 33 ⅓ percent of the first $750,000 and decreasing from there as your payout amount increases – of what we get for you.
Remember, though, that what a lawyer brings to your claim is much more than what you end up paying in attorneys’ fees. For example, imagine that you were going to get $100,000 for your claim on your own. Having an attorney may get you as much as $350,000 (3.5 times more). Sure, you would pay around $116,550 in attorneys’ fees, and that sounds like a lot. However, this scenario leaves you with more than $233,000 left over – more than twice what you would have gotten on your own, even after the fees come out of your settlement.
You still come out way, way ahead when you hire a lawyer.
Yes, where you fall matters. This crucial detail determines how strict a duty of care the property owner had to you, and it may influence whether comparative negligence plays a role in your case. Here are some things you should keep in mind:
This is a tricky one. In most cases, private property owners don’t have the same duty as commercial property owners to maintain the sidewalk in a safe condition for pedestrians. Unless the municipality has a different law in place, then the owner of the private residence probably is not liable for the injuries you suffered falling on the sidewalk near their home.
However, if the owner’s actions are what caused your injury, then they would be liable for your injuries. This might be the case if the property owner noticed a crack or other defect in the sidewalk and attempted to fix it through their own construction or repairs but only made things worse.
If you do have a claim resulting from a fall on a residential sidewalk, it would be primarily against the property owner. In some instances, you might have some course of action against the municipality, too. You would need to discuss a complex matter like this with a lawyer to better understand the intricacies of this situation.
Because the duty of care is stricter for commercial property owners, they usually are responsible for the injuries caused by an accident on their property. There are, of course, some exceptions:
The thing that makes slip and fall claims tricky is that, sometimes, you might be tempted to believe that your case fits into one of these exceptions even when it doesn’t.
Not all safety hazards are easily apparent, especially when you’re in shock, embarrassed, or even panicking at this unexpected and challenging situation. The defendant may suggest that you were the one at fault, even when it’s not true, or that the incident was “just an accident” for which no one is to blame. And just because the commercial property owner claims that the safety hazard didn’t exist until a few minutes ago doesn’t mean you should believe them.
Anytime you get hurt in a fall on a commercial property, it’s a good idea to talk to a lawyer and at least have the situation thoroughly investigated.
In an apartment or apartment complex, a slip and fall may be the grounds for a claim against your landlord – but it all depends on specific details, such as:
In an apartment situation, as in a slip and fall on a commercial property, the property owner is only liable if there was a safety hazard that shows negligence in their duty of care. If no safety hazard contributed to your fall, or if you tripped over your own possessions or slipped on a spill of your own or another tenant’s making, you likely don’t have a case, because the landlord has not been negligent.
However, if you warned the landlord of a danger such as cracked or damaged flooring, loose handrails, rickety stairs, or poor lighting and that landlord failed to promptly address the matter, you may have a case. Most lease agreements specify that the landlord is still responsible for repairs and other maintenance in a rented space.
What makes this situation more complicated is that not all rental situations are treated the same under the law. While an apartment building is often viewed as a commercial property, a condominium complex may not be. If you are renting a condo from its owner, the property may be considered residential rather than commercial, which means your landlord may owe you less of a duty of care than you would have in a different rental environment.
Commercial and residential aren’t the only two types of properties out there. If you fall on public property owned by a government entity, you have a more difficult fight ahead of you.
That’s because a law called the New Jersey Tort Claims Act, otherwise known as Title 59, makes special rules for situations involving a claim against a public entity.
The intricacies of what constitutes an exception to the general immunity of public entities are even more complex and fact-specific than usual. You need an experienced slip and fall attorney to review the details of your claim before you can determine if you have a case against this public entity.
You absolutely have the right to expect parking lots to be maintained in safe condition for business invitees. If that duty of care was not met, you may have the right to pursue a slip and fall lawsuit against the owner of the property or a company hired to maintain the parking lot.
To have a claim, the fall must have been the result of some sort of safety hazard in the parking lot. Some of the causes of slip and falls specific to parking lots include:
The next question is, who exactly is liable for a parking lot slip and fall? Depending on the situation, it may not be the same party who would be responsible if your fall occurred inside the business. In the event of a parking lot slip and fall, you need to report the injury to the nearest store or restaurant so that you can document the accident and get the information for the party responsible for maintaining the parking lot.
There’s a lot to unpack in this question, but let’s start with the basics.
You can sue only for compensation for the damages you actually suffered, not for what could have happened.
As a result, slip and falls where the injuries were very minor don’t usually lead to a claim, even if the property owner’s negligence was clear and heinous. In these instances, the compensation you would be entitled to is so minimal that it is not worth moving forward with a claim.
This might be the case if you went home and iced your injuries, pushed through a couple days of soreness at work, and found that the pain went away completely within a couple of days. In this case, you really don’t have any damages, either in terms of medical bills or in lost wages, pain and suffering, or other losses.
Suppose you fall into a different category of having been injured enough to seek medical care but not having missed work. Maybe you’re a stay-at-home parent, a student, or fortunate enough that your injury doesn’t interfere with the job you have. In this case, whether your case is too minor depends on two factors:
If you have health insurance and only had a small co-payment to see a doctor, and needed no followup or additional tests or treatments, then your case may be too minor to sue. However, if your care is ongoing or you haven’t yet seen a doctor, don’t assume this will be the case for you.
The typical cost of rehabilitation for a severe slip and fall injury ranges from $30,000 to $40,000, an amount that is certainly worth pursuing a claim to recover. If you need to undergo one or more surgeries, you could well be looking at six-figure medical costs over years of treatment.
Although you may think that you would only seek compensation for the medical bills, that isn’t a call you should make without first taking a thorough look at all of the ways the injury has affected your life. An attorney can help you here by pointing out things that you may not have even considered yet – things like what this injury could mean for your future.
You might also be able to seek compensation for personal services you had to pay for because you were out of commission, even things like doing household chores and caring for the kids.
Additionally, even if your injury didn’t hurt your income, the pain and loss of function still impact your life in many other ways. Although you may not be able to put a number on the pain you have been through or the damage to your quality of life by not being able to do the things you used to enjoy, a slip and fall attorney can fight to get you money for these damages as well as your medical costs.
Generally, no, you won’t have to pay tax on your slip and fall settlement. In most instances, the payout you get in a slip and fall claim doesn’t count as “income.” This money is meant to compensate you for losses, not something you earned by working, received in bank interest, were gifted, or won in a game of chance. As a result, it usually can’t be taxed as income.
There are still situations in which you might owe taxes or other obligations, like liens, out of your settlement. For example, suppose that the property owner was so grossly negligent that your case went to trial and a judge or jury awarded you punitive damages – meant to punish the defendant rather than compensate you for actual losses. In that rare situation, you might be taxed on that portion of your payout.
If a wet or slippery floor is what caused your fall, then the lack of a wet floor sign is advantageous to your claim. The floor was clearly slippery, and the defendant clearly failed to use this common, easy method of warning business invitees about a hazard.
Of course, the defendant may still try to use other defenses, like saying there was not enough notice to address the danger or arguing that the hazard was “open and obvious.” Even in this situation, it is still important to have an attorney on your side.
When there was a wet floor sign present, winning your claim becomes a lot more challenging. The question then comes down to details such as where the sign was placed.
If wet floor signs clearly marked or blocked off the area and you disregarded them, you will have a hard time making the case that the property owner is at fault.
On the other hand, some property owners put wet floor signs permanently out in general areas of the premises, thinking that will protect them from a lawsuit. However, that general sign does not warn of specific, actual dangers on the property. If these dangers cause an accident, you may still have the grounds for a lawsuit even if the owner technically used a wet floor sign somewhere on the property.
Unfortunately, not all slip and fall victims get the chance to recover.
If you lost a family member due to a slip and fall accident, we know that there’s nothing anyone can say to make up for what’s happened. This is a tragedy, one that never had to happen in the first place, and nothing can replace the loved one you are mourning.
You’re far from alone. Every 20 minutes, an older adult dies from a fall, and many more are injured. This trend is only gettting worse, with death rates from falling among older adults increasing by 30 percent from 2007 through 2016, the CDC reported. If the rate continues to rise, that could mean 7 fall deaths every hour by 2030. Statistically, one out of every 127 deaths stems from a fall, the National Safety Council reported.
The thing is, even though your family member has passed on, the ordeal is not over for you. In addition to the grief you would feel no matter how this death occurred, you’re filled with questions about how and why this happened. You may even feel that, without holding the person who is at fault for your loss accountable, you will never find any closure.
There are many reasons why it may make sense to pursue a wrongful death claim after a fatal slip and fall accident. Here are some of the reasons our clients have chosen to move forward with a claim against the defendants who stole their loved ones from them:
In a wrongful death claim that arises from a slip and fall accident, you can seek compensation for several types of damages, including:
Any kind of slip and fall can be fatal under certain circumstances. Most of these tragic cases that we have seen involved one or more of the following elements:
Whatever the situation, your loved one deserved better. We promise to treat your family with the compassion you deserve as we answer your questions and help you explore whether a wrongful death claim is the right option for your family – at no charge, of course.
There are a number of slip and fall time limits you need to be aware of – before it’s too late.
The deadline that applies to just about every slip and fall claim is the statute of limitations. This statute sets how long you have under New Jersey law to file a lawsuit. If you haven’t officially filed suit within this time frame, you lose your right to sue under state law.
Generally, the statute of limitations for slip and fall claims, and other personal injury matters, is two years from the date of the accident. If the fall involved a minor, the deadline is two years after the individual turns 18 years old.
Cases against certain types of defendants, however, have additional deadlines. If your slip and fall involved a government entity – if, for example, you fell in a government building or on public property – then you must notify the defendant of your claim within 90 days. Wait too long, and your right to pursue a lawsuit will expire.
Filing a slip and fall lawsuit isn’t a simple process that you can put off until the last minute. There’s a lot that has to be done before that deadline:
Besides the formal deadlines, there are what we like to consider informal deadlines.
For example, you need to get the evidence that’s pertinent to your case before it disappears.
The reality is that handling a lawsuit on your own is a hassle. It’s time-consuming. At times, it’s immensely frustrating. And it’s a big distraction from rehabilitation. Even if you’re nowhere near the two-year statute of limitations, you need to get a lawyer involved before the claim becomes such a hassle that it interferes with your progress toward getting better.