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 team 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.
An Arizona 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.
Did You Know…? It’s a widely held misconception that a trespasser who gets injured on a person’s property has grounds for a lawsuit. Generally, property owners don’t owe trespassers any duty of care – other than to not intentionally cause them injury.
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.
Arizona’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 Arizona 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 dust 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.
Did You Know…? Slip and falls can occur in all seasons, but they are particularly common in rainy weather conditions.
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).
Did you know…? Slips and fall accidents are the leading cause of workers’ compensation claims.
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.
Did You Know…? Nearly 30 % of people feel they’ve been taken advantage of by an insurance company.
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 Arizona for 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 Phoenix 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.