While a slip and fall may not seem all that serious, those who have experienced them know that they can cause serious injuries. These types of accidents are even more prevalent in the winter months when snow and ice covers the ground. The vast majority of slip and fall claims are filed under premises liability law, which is a subset of personal injury law. However, despite how serious the injuries can be, how common these accidents are, and the fact that the law has provisions for awarding compensation to those injured, many people fail to file claims due to misinformation.
Your Claim is not Legitimate
Unfortunately, many people are talked out of filing a claim by property owners or the lawyers and insurance company of the property owners. Often times, they say that the claim is illegitimate for one reason or another. They may say that you were not injured as a result of the condition of the property, or even that you are not actually injured enough for the claim to be taken seriously. However, the fact of the matter is that if you slipped or tripped on someone’s property due to an unsafe condition and were injured as a result, you likely have a legitimate claim.
While there are some reasons as to why your claim may not be valid, that is not up to the property owner, their lawyer, or their insurance to determine. Speak to an experienced personal injury attorney if you have any questions regarding the validity of your claim and they will be able to help you receive the compensation you deserve under the law.
A Warning Sign was Posted
Some people who are injured in slip and fall accidents believe their claim is not valid because there was a warning sign posted. Regardless of whether they come to this conclusion on their own or if they have been told this by the property owner, that is not the case. It may be harder to argue your case if there was a warning sign posted, but that alone does not invalidate your injury claim. A warning sign alone does not absolve a property owner of their duty to maintain a safe environment.
For example, if you were to slip in a puddle on the floor of a supermarket where a wet floor sign was displayed, does that automatically mean the owner is not liable for your injuries? No. Along with the wet floor sign the owner of the supermarket or their employees need to make a conscious effort to fix the unsafe condition within the store by cleaning up the puddle. Simply placing the sign nearby is not enough.
Also, how visible the warning sign was is another piece of evidence to consider. Let’s say you slipped on some ice outside the supermarket instead, but there was a sign posted warning of icy conditions. However, if this sign was covered in snow, or damaged in such a way that it could not be read, then it doesn’t do anything to prevent customers from sustaining injuries. There are many other reasons why signs alone do not absolve a property owner of liability, but these are some of the most common.
You Must File Now/You Can Wait to File
In some cases injured parties are misinformed about when they can and should file a claim. This can come in two forms. The first is when the injured party is pressured to file a claim right away. This may be done by a property owner or their insurance company as a way to make the victim choose between recovering from their injuries and filing their claim. They are hoping the victim will choose to recover and think they missed their chance to file because of it. However, you actually have two years from the date of your injury to file your claim.
The second form this misinformation comes in is when victims believe they have an unlimited amount of time to file their claim. They may choose to take their time recovering and not file their claim until they’re fully healed and back to their normal routine. But if this takes longer than two years, they may miss out on their chance to file at all.
However, it is also important to keep in mind that while you should not feel rushed to file a claim, the sooner you do file the easier it will be for your lawyer to argue your case. Over time eyewitness memories fade and security camera footage is deleted, so it is important to file your claim as soon as possible in most cases.
Your Injury was Your Fault
It may turn out that your slip and fall injury was partially your own fault. This could be the case if you were busy looking at your phone, didn’t notice the puddle or wet floor sign, and were injured as a result. In a case such as this, you may initially be told that you caused your own injury so the property owner is not liable. This is not entirely true.
Pennsylvania uses a system known as comparative fault — or comparative negligence — for personal injury cases. Comparative fault states that if your are less than 51% at fault for your injuries, you can still be awarded compensation. This is great for those who are injured in accidents in which they were partially at fault. But, there is a drawback. The amount of compensation you can be awarded is reduced by your percentage of fault. So if you were found to be 15% at fault, you would only be able to recover up to 85% of the total damages awarded.
The Law Offices of Robert L. Schwarz
Have you been injured in a slip and fall accident? Contact the Law Offices of Robert L. Schwarz today for a free consultation regarding your case. With experience as a defense attorney, Mr. Schwarz knows the arguments the defense is likely to make and is equipped to fight back for your rights.