Dothan Slip and Fall Accident Attorneys
Slip and fall accidents affect thousands of people across the United States each year, and are a leading cause of injury amongst elderly adults. Slip and fall injuries are also prevalent in the workplace, although anyone can experience it, regardless of age or industry of employment.
While the majority of these accidents don’t leave the victim with much harm, other than perhaps a bruised ego and a slight feeling of embarrassment, some slip and falls can be very serious. In fact, slip and fall incidents can be so serious that they result in death. In cases where the accident is not fatal, it can still be serious enough to change the course of a person’s life, or result in high medical bills, time off work, and pain and suffering at the very least.
At the law offices of Smith Law Firm, our Alabama slip and fall attorneys can help you to understand the legal options available to you if you have been injured, and need to recover compensation. Please contact us today for your consultation to learn more.
Top Causes of Slip and Falls
Serious cases almost always occur as a result of a dangerous condition. These conditions might include, but are not limited to:
- Broken stairs;
- Lack of handrails;
- Torn carpet;
- Holes in walking surfaces;
- Cracks in sidewalks;
- Uncovered manholes;
- Debris in walking areas;
- Spilled food or drink;
- Slippery surfaces;
- Snow and ice (while rare in Alabama, it does happen!); and
- Broken elevators/escalators.
In some cases, it could also be the result of improper supervision. For example, if a nursing home resident cannot safely walk on their own, it is critical that they receive support from a nursing home staff member. As such, neglect or negligence could result in a slip and fall.
Injuries from Slip and Fall Accidents
The type of injury that a victim may sustain in such an accident depends upon the force involved in the fall (and whether it was from a height), as well as the angle of the fall, and the health condition of the person involved. Injuries from a slip and fall might include:
- Traumatic brain injuries;
- Spinal cord injuries;
- Bone fracture injuries (fractures of the hips, wrist, and collar bone are especially common);
- Soft tissues injuries; and
- Back and neck injuries.
Who Is Liable for Injuries after a Person Suffers a Fall?
One of the hardest parts of a claim can be determining who should be held liable for a harmed individual’s damages. Like the extent of injuries, liability for a slip and fall is dependent upon many factors. In many cases, though, the property owner of the property where the accident occurred is the first party that is looked to.
Property owners in Alabama have a duty to maintain their properties in a reasonably safe condition, and to correct any known hazards within a reasonable amount of time. For example, if a property owner notices that a stair on a staircase on their property is broken, they should put up a sign warning people not to use the staircase, and seek repairs in an amount of time that another, sensible person in the same position would.
When a dangerous condition exists on a property that a property owner knows of and does not warn of or correct, and another party is injured as a direct result, the property owner has breached their duty of care to the victim. As such, the property owner can be held liable for the full extent of the injured party’s economic and noneconomic damages.
Keep in mind that the duty of care described above only applies to those who are on another’s property legally. If a person is trespassing at the time that they are injured, the property owner owes no duty of care to the trespasser other than to refrain from causing them “wanton or intentional injury, including by a trap or pitfall.” This means that if you were trespassing at the time that you were injured, you probably will not be able to bring forth a case against the property owner on whose property you were injured.
Further, remember that you must prove two key elements in a premises liability suit in order to hold the property owner liable for your harm:
- That the property owner knew or should have known of the dangerous condition; and
- That the property owner did not act within a reasonable amount of time to remedy the dangerous condition.
Determining what is a “reasonable amount of time” is often one of the most complicated elements of a premises liability case, and some people may have different interpretations of what is reasonable. For example, in the example above, one person may think it is reasonable to repair stairs within a few weeks, whereas another may find it reasonable to repair stairs within a few days. This is one of the key reasons why having an attorney on your side who can help you to bring forth your case and prove fault and the criteria above is so essential.
Slip & Fall in a Retail Store: What is the Store’s Liability?
Under Alabama law, retail store owners must exercise “reasonable care and diligence” to ensure that their property is safe, or that there should be sufficient warning that the property is in a hazardous condition. It is the duty of a retail business that is open to the public and welcomes visitors on their property to make sure that their guests are reasonably safe. Sadly, retail outlets do not always uphold this duty, which can inadvertently cause visitors to sustain injuries.
Some of the potential hazards that can lead to a slip and fall accident at a retail store include:
- Overloaded or improperly stocked shelves, causing goods to fall on the floor
- Food, beverages, and other slippery or sticky substances that get spilled on the floor
- Uneven or cracked surfaces, cracked flooring, damaged stairwells, torn carpeting, and other structural problems
- Poor lighting in areas, which make it more challenging for a visitor to notice a slip and fall threat
- Overcrowded and congested areas, such as aisles or parking lots
- Malfunctioning elevators and escalators
The plaintiff will need to prove the following elements to be able to hold a retail establishment responsible for a slip and fall accident that happens on their premises:
- Existence of a dangerous condition on the property
- The dangerous condition was the proximate reason for the slip and fall accident and consequent injury
- The manager, owner, or an employee of the retail outlet was aware (or should have been aware) about the dangerous condition
- Those in-charge of the premises at the time did not take reasonable measures to correct the situation or issue an adequate warning regarding the existence of the hazard to guests
Alabama Slip and Fall Cases: Contributory Negligence
In an Alabama slip and fall injury lawsuit, you (and your lawyer) will have to counter any argument of the defense with robust evidence. If you are unable to show that the property owner (or another responsible party) is one hundred percent legally liable for your slip and fall accident, you might not be able to collect any compensation at all.
Like a handful of other states, Alabama does not follow the principle of “comparative negligence.” Rather, the “contributory negligence” rule, which is much less favorable towards victims, is used in Alabama personal injury claims. According to this rule, if the victim is partially at fault for the accident, even a fraction of a percent, they cannot recover compensatory damages from any other responsible party.
When accusing you of some or all of the blame for the accident, the retail establishment owner (or another liable party) could claim the following:
- You were not attentive to where you were walking (for instance, you were on your phone)
- You were in an area of the store where guests are not typically allowed, or where guests are usually not expected to be
- The hazardous condition was cordoned off by signage and cones (or reasonable measures were taken to protect visitors)
- The hazardous condition should have been apparent to you
- You were wearing inappropriate (or unsafe) footwear for the specific circumstances
The rule of contributory negligence in Alabama will remain a factor even if your case does not go to trial. At the time of settlement negotiations, the property owner’s insurer and their lawyer know that if they show that you are partially at-fault for your slip and fall injuries, you will not get any compensation. Therefore, it becomes vital to make a robust case against the retail outlet owner and other at-fault parties.
Contact an Alabama Slip and Fall Attorney Near You Today
At the law offices of Smith Law Firm, our Alabama injury attorneys are passionate about what we do, and we care about helping our clients understand what their options are when they suffer an injury. When you call our law firm, we will sit down with you during your consultation and explain to the basics for filing a slip and fall claim, what you can expect during the process, and will evaluate your case to determine what it may be worth. Once you hire us, we will work hard to investigate your accident and prove negligence of the property owner (or other responsible party, such as a nursing home staff member). We are also skilled negotiators, who aren’t intimidated by other lawyers or insurance adjusters. And of course, we have trial experience should your case go to court.
To schedule your initial consultation with our experienced and aggressive Alabama slip and fall attorneys, please call our law firm directly at 334-702-1744.