Slip and Fall Lawyers in Columbia Helping You Get Back on Your Feet
Imagine you’re walking along only to suddenly realize that you no longer have your balance and you are falling. You may instinctively put your hands out to catch yourself or call for help, but sometimes, it happens so fast that there’s no time to react. You might immediately think that it was truly just an accident. Still, in many cases, slip and fall accidents could have been prevented if the property owners had taken reasonable precautions.
When you need a slip-and-fall lawyer, contact the law firm of Cavanaugh & Thickens, LLC. We take pride in how we manage the attorney-client relationship and work hard to help you put forth a strong case in the civil courts. Whether you’re looking for more information on slip and fall cases or you’re ready to move forward with a lawsuit, we can help.
What Is a Slip and Fall Accident?
Slip and fall accidents are when someone slips or falls at a business or home, and the fall was caused by some negligence on the part of the property owner. These types of cases are also commonly referred to as premises liability cases. This is because property owners have the responsibility to keep their premises free of hazards that could be a danger to those who have a right to be there.
There is often confusion about what reasonable measures a property owner must take not to have liability in these situations. For example, if someone knocks on the door of your private home and slips and falls on your porch in the process, did you have liability there since the person wasn’t an invited guest? Premises liability cases for private residences can be a little more complex. Still, in general, property owners have to keep any areas where someone could reasonably assume there was public access free of hazards.
So, this would mean that if your mailbox is by your front door and the mail carrier has to be on your porch to deliver that mail, you have the responsibility to keep that area safely accessible. But a back porch, where there is no assumed public access, would not have the same guidelines. These cases are usually more cut and dried for public businesses and stores where there is a clear responsibility to patrons to ensure that the area is safe.
How Do Slip and Fall Accidents Occur?
Slip and fall accidents often have more than one contributing factor, so it can be difficult in some cases to determine exactly what contributed to the fall. However, some cases are more clear. While we don’t get much snow or ice here in South Carolina, wet surfaces from rain, sprinkler systems, spills, and other leaks can create a slippery hazard and make it more likely for someone to fall.
Another common type of slip and fall accident is when there is a tripping hazard. For example, a business may have fans or other equipment set up and power cords running through a walking area. If those areas aren’t blocked off for patrons and someone trips and falls, it could result in a premises liability case.
Slip and fall cases can also include cases where someone falls down steps or into a hole. For example, if property owners don’t keep wood porches in good repair, and someone falls down into the porch after stepping on rotting wood, that would be a premises liability case. If you’re not sure whether your situation qualifies as a slip and fall accident where someone may be able to be held financially accountable, talk with one of our attorneys to find out more.
What Kinds of Injuries Are Common as a Result of Slips and Falls?
Almost everyone has a few falls throughout their life, and most are minor. However, any slip and fall accident should be treated seriously. Some injuries, such as concussions, internal bleeding, and even fractures, can be missed at first, so it’s always important to seek medical attention after you’ve fallen to ensure that there are no hidden injuries and to document the fall for your medical records in case you need to file a lawsuit later on. Some common injuries from slip and fall accidents include:
- Broken bones
- Sprained ankles or wrists
- Dislocated shoulders
- Abrasions and bruising
- Head trauma
- Spinal injuries
- Internal bleeding and bruising
- Broken ribs
If you lose consciousness at any point after a fall, you should seek immediate medical attention.
How Long Do I Have to File a Slip and Fall Lawsuit?
Because slip and fall accidents are covered under personal injury law, they follow the same guidelines when it comes to the statute of limitations. You have three years from the date of the accident to notify the courts that you would like to pursue a slip and fall case. Some people may question why the statute of limitations is several years for something that would be a clear known injury, but there are logical reasons for this.
One is that your primary focus should be on your health and recovery after a serious accident where you have been injured. For serious injuries, like a broken hip, this could include more than one surgery, inpatient treatment, outpatient physical therapy, and other aspects. The statute of limitations gives you time to prioritize getting better without worrying about filing an immediate lawsuit.
Another reason for the statute of limitations is to ensure that you are able to get a full idea of the extent of your injuries and what that means for your quality of life and ability to continue working. Sometimes, it appears that an injury is minor at first, and it’s only later that you discover that there are ongoing complications or more problems than first diagnosed. If the statute of limitations didn’t give you plenty of time to file, you may end up asking for far less compensation than you would have had you known the full impact.
What Should You Do If You Slip and Fall at a Store?
It’s important to know what to do after a slip and fall accident to ensure that you’re taking steps to protect your health and have everything you may need if you decide to pursue a personal injury case later on. It is better to have more information and documentation that you need to end up ready to file a lawsuit, only to find that you have issues with injuries not being documented or are missing a full outline of the expenses you’ve incurred due to the accident.
Seek Medical Treatment
Immediately after a slip and fall accident, it’s important to seek medical treatment. Even if you think you are okay, a medical professional should make that determination to ensure there isn’t anything that you’re missing, such as a concussion or fracture. Slip and fall injuries can be more serious than they first appear, and it’s common for victims to brush off the accident only to find out the injuries were serious later on. Seeking medical treatment also ensures that everything is documented for the insurance company, and it starts the process of getting your medical expenses documented as well.
Alert the Staff That You Are Injured
The next thing you should do after a slip and fall accident is to alert the property owner if possible. If you are injured at a store, it may not be possible to locate the property owner, but alert the staff and general manager that there has been an incident and let them know that you are seeking medical treatment. If the accident takes place at a private residence and there is no one home, note the address so you can tell the authorities who may be able to follow up and locate the property owner.
Talk to a Slip and Fall Accident Attorney
Once your physical health is stable and your immediate injuries have been attended to, it’s time to start thinking about talking to an attorney. It’s never too early to start understanding your legal options and rights with a slip-and-fall case. The earlier you get an attorney involved, the better because it ensures that you have personal counsel to help you deal with the insurance company and any other relevant parties.
Many slip and fall accident attorneys work on a contingency fee basis. Contingent attorney fees mean that these attorneys don’t charge anything upfront to take your case. Instead, they take a percentage of the monetary award if you win your case or settle out of court. This type of arrangement can make it easier for victims to afford representation when they are currently dealing with ongoing medical expenses and debt.
Slip and fall injuries can be very serious, and it’s important to know your rights to recover compensation and ensure you have what you need while you heal. Contact our law firm to speak to a slip and fall lawyer. Schedule a free consultation with our team of personal injury lawyers to get started.