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One day a person is walking along a sidewalk near a retail store and a crack in the sidewalk causes them to fall and sustain a serious injury. They are taken to a hospital and get treatment but are left with large medical bills. What can the injured party do? The owner of the property the defective sidewalk was located on could be liable. The injured party could ask them to pay the hospital bills and fair compensation. It takes a law firm to determine the legal liability of a slip and fall accident.
What to Do When Injury Occurs
The Bronx is a wonderful place to live and shop, but the buildings tend to be older and not always in the best repair. Most of the building owners keep their properties in good repair with safe conditions. But, there are property owners who have buildings with safety hazards such as cracked floors, slippery floors, uneven steps, loose railings, or other hazards. The exterior of the building might have additional hazards such as sidewalks with cracks, uneven sections, holes, or other safety hazards. Some property owners do not shovel snow or apply salt adequately in the winter making more safety hazards.
It may seem that people can just be more careful, looking where they are going, but that is not always enough. In spite of being careful, a person can trip on an uneven sidewalk, slip on an icy patch, or fall on unsafe floors or stairs. These people might suffer little more than embarrassment and picking themselves up and dusting their clothes off to continue on.
But, what if that fall results in a broken bone or a head injury that requires significant medical attention. What if an ambulance must be called to transport the injured party to a nearby hospital? It is important to know what to do if you slip and fall because of a property owner's carelessness or negligence. Luckily in the Bronx, victims of injuries caused by dangerous conditions on properties have the right to ask for financial compensation from the property owner or the commercial tenants.
If a slip and fall injury occurs, seek medical attention right away. Try to get contact information for all witnesses nearby. If it is possible, take photos of the property hazard, any signage or lack thereof, and the injury. Report the injury in writing as soon as possible to the property owner or tenant, describing what happened and when. Contact a personal injury law firm to determine liability and any right the injured party has for compensation. Then, let the law firm communicate with the property owner. Do not talk about the injury or incident on social media.
What Constitutes a Slip and Fall Injury?
A slip and fall injury is described as an injury sustained by an unintentional fall by a person at another person's property. The most common cause of this fall is a person losing their footing on a surface that is slippery. But, any fall caused by dangerous conditions can qualify. Dangerous conditions that leave a property owner liable include:
Uneven floor surfaces, including worn floor tiles, carpets, or boards especially on stairs.
Recently mopped or waxed floors with no warning signs
Spilled liquids, oil, or grease that has been left in place rather than cleaned up promptly.
Icy or snow-covered sidewalks that have not been properly cleared
Staircases that are not well lit, are below standard in construction, or are missing handrails or have broken or loose handrails
Walkways that are obstructed by electrical cords or other objects
Trash and debris on the floor forming a tripping hazard
Transitions from one type of flooring or floor level to another that are not well marked
Poorly maintained sidewalks or parking lots with cracks, potholes, or ice and snow
Why Do Victims of Falls Need Legal help?
A person falling can be just an embarrassment or the person can be seriously injured. Falls are the main cause of emergency room visits. Records show that over one million people are treated at emergency rooms because of slips and falls in the U.S. every year. The estimated cost of all these falls is from $13 to $14 million every year.
But, is the fall the victim's fault or the fault of the property owner? This is often not clear, and property owners can be very reluctant to pay for fall victim's medical bills. Contacting a personal injury attorney can be the only way to get fair compensation. These attorneys have experience and training to decide if the fall victim has a case. Then, they have the means to pursue the claim from initial contact with the property owner through the court system if that is needed.
So, to establish owner liability a person must prove that:
The owner or tenant created the dangerous condition
The tenant or owner knew about the condition existing and failed to correct it
The condition existed for some time—enough time that the owner or tenant should have been aware of the condition and corrected it prior to the slip and fall incident.
But, for the property owner or tenant to be liable, the issue must have been obvious or foreseeable that their negligence in failing to correct the defect could result in injuries. To collect compensation, the injured party or the lawyer must prove the accident was caused by the owner or tenant's negligence. There are slips and falls that are just accidents and deemed no one's fault, and there are slip and fall accidents that are caused by the victim's carelessness or negligence.
To be liable, the owner or tenant must have been responsible for the condition, such as a spill, slippery surface, or damaged and worn flooring. They must have known that the condition was dangerous and still did nothing about it. They also should have known the surface that caused the fall was dangerous and a reasonable person responsible for the care of the property would have discovered and corrected the dangerous situation. This is what "Burden of Proof" establishes.
The rules for owner liability vary with different classifications of property. The classifications include commercial property, residential property, and government property. Falls on Government property are the hardest to get compensation for. Some government properties are immune from paying certain damages or have limits for damages paid. Sorting through these rules is best left to a qualified attorney.
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