Slip and Fall Accidents: Do You Have a Claim?
We’ve all been there: We trip on an uneven sidewalk and take a tumble. We slide across a recently mopped floor in a shop. We walk into something in a dark area of a building. But what happens when an accident like this causes a serious injury–and it isn’t your fault?
According to the World Health Organization, there are 37.3 million falls that require medical attention each year around the globe. That’s no small number. But if you’re left with long-lasting issues–and piled-up medical bills–due to a fall, the fact that you’re not alone may not be much comfort. That’s when you might go looking for an Oklahoma slip and fall attorney.
What Is a Slip and Fall Accident?
A slip and fall accident is when a person trips, slips, or otherwise loses their balance on someone else’s property and falls to the ground. It can involve anything from slipping on a wet floor in a department store or falling down stairs because of a wobbly railing to tripping on an object due to poor lighting. The property can be a store, private business, private home, or a public street, park, or sidewalk.
An attorney can provide expert advice on your case, starting with an evaluation of whether the property owner was responsible for your fall. This is known as “premises liability.” All 50 states have some form of premises liability on the books.
What Is Premises Liability?
This doctrine states that a property owner must maintain a “reasonably safe environment” for others who visit the property. In plainer terms, they must get rid of obstructions and hazards that might cause someone to slip, trip, or fall. They must also provide proper lighting, signage, and security if needed.
Most states, including Oklahoma, also recognize the “attractive nuisance doctrine,” which means that anything on a property that might attract children or teenagers, like a pool, playground, or even gravel piles, must be properly secured with barriers and signage. Oklahoma also follows the “mode of operation” rule, which means that even if a store did not know of a hazard, you may still have a claim if your fall resulted from “a condition that foreseeably developed from the way a store is operated.”
Causes of Slip and Fall Accidents
Slip and fall accidents are very common, especially in retail stores and the workplace. Good Oklahoma slip and fall attorneys are experienced at handling cases that involve injuries from:
- Ice and snow
- Spills and wet floors
- Cluttered floors and pathways
- Loose mats and rugs
- Damaged stairs, floors, sidewalks, and roads
- Missing or broken handrails
- Lack of proper lighting
Under premises liability, it is the property owner’s responsibility to find and fix these hazards within a reasonable time frame. If they know of the hazard and ignore it, that’s especially bad behavior.
Common Injuries from Slip and Fall Accidents
The types of injuries you can sue for in a slip and fall accident are as numerous as their causes. Injuries can be minor with a quick recovery, or can be serious with lifelong consequences. Here are some examples:
- Bruises, scrapes, and lacerations
- Broken bones
- Sprains, strains, or torn ligaments
- Knee injuries
- Brain injuries
- Neck and spinal cord injuries
- Wrongful death
It’s important to get even “minor” injuries checked by a medical professional as soon as you can. Medical bills can still pile up, and you may notice symptoms down the line that you didn’t at first.
Do You Have a Claim for Damages?
As experienced Oklahoma slip and fall attorneys, we often see cases where the person does not think they have a claim because they assume the accident was their fault (for example, if they didn’t “notice” the hazard). But it isn’t necessarily your fault if the hazard wasn’t properly lit or barricaded.
If you’ve suffered harm due to a slip, trip, or fall that was the result of someone else’s negligence, you could have a claim for monetary compensation. And holding a property owner accountable for a slip and fall accident can keep an accident from happening to someone else.
Under Oklahoma law, your slip and fall attorney will need to prove one of the following for your case:
- The property owner or an employee knowingly caused the hazard.
- The property owner or an employee knew of the hazard.
- If the property owner claims they did not know about the hazard, you can prove that a reasonable person would have known about it–leading to the conclusion that they should have, too.
In addition, you must prove:
- You were an invited or allowed guest and not a trespasser (although you may be able to file a claim as a trespasser, it is less common).
- The hazard was not an “open and obvious danger” that you should have noticed.
- Your accident did not result from an “inherent risk” in the activity you were doing (known as “assumption of risk”).
- You suffered harm as a result of the accident.
There is also a two-year statute of limitations for personal injury claims in Oklahoma. This means that you have two years from the date of your injury to file a claim.
What You Can Do to Help Your Case
If you’ve been involved in an accident, we can guide you through the process of filing a claim. To help your case, you should also:
- Seek medical care as soon as possible, even if you think the accident was minor. Keep all of your medical records and bills.
- Report the incident to the establishment where it took place. Include all of the details in your report, including the date and time, exact location, the cause, any witnesses, and where you felt pain or believed you were injured.
- If possible, take pictures of the site or have someone take pictures for you.
- Write down witness information and record or write down statements. It may feel awkward to put on your “police detective” hat, but you will be glad you did.
- Don’t speak to anyone but your lawyer. The property owner’s insurance will probably contact you, but you have no legal obligation to give them a statement.
- Resist the urge to post to social media. You may want to either reassure your friends you’re OK or use social media to “make your case.” Instead, don’t use it at all.
The Bottom Line
Remember, your slip and fall accident may not be your fault. You’re also not alone–this type of accident is extremely common and has many different causes. The right slip and fall accident attorneys can help you navigate the legal world and get the compensation you deserve. Contact the Oklahoma Injury Guy for a free case evaluation and we’ll put our expertise to work for you.