by Scott Blumenshine
Slip, trip and fall accident cases are one of the most common types of personal injury lawsuits filed in the US. If you have suffered an injury in a slip or trip accident due to a company’s carelessness, then you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries.
In order to receive compensation for damages (such as, medical costs, lost wages, and pain and suffering) you need to speak to an experienced personal injury attorney.
Whether your accident occurred in a store, restaurant, tavern, or an amusement facility, the law provides a remedy if your injury was due to the business owner’s negligence, maintenance or management. Businesses operate to make money. The obligation that comes from that operation is to make the place safe for customers.
Below is a brief introduction to slip, trip and fall cases in Illinois and what you should do if you were injured. Such cases are also referred to as “trip and fall” or “fall down” or “premises liability” claims.
Generally speaking, a slip and fall case arises from an injury that occurs due to the negligence of a business owner on their property. The injured person may file a lawsuit against the entity responsible for maintaining a safe business environment. However, it is important to note that the property owner is not always fully liable for all damages that occur.
In Illinois, you must prove that the slip was due to the negligence of the property owner. Negligence is a complex area of tort law and there are many nuances that vary from state to state. In Illinois you must prove the following:
If you can prove all of these elements then you may be able to recover damages for your injury. However, there are many types of negligence rules that may negate some or all of the property owner’s liability.
Contributory negligence states if you are more than 50% responsible for your fall then you are unable to recover anything from the property owner. If you were the one who created the spill, or you were acting in a reckless manner which caused your fall, you may not be able to receive compensation for your damages.
Comparative negligence applies when you were less than 50% responsible for your fall. Your compensation would be discounted by the percentage that was deemed your fault. For example, if you were found to be 15% responsible for your fall, you would receive 85% compensation for your injuries.
Illinois also has joint and several liability laws. This means you are able to file suit against every party responsible for your fall, no matter the percentage of fault each one shared.
You can slip-and-fall just about anywhere. Food or beverage on the floor of a restaurant can create a dangerous slipping hazard. Merchandise on the floor of stores can create a trip risk. The configuration of games or concessions in an amusement facility can create a danger to customers.
There are a few important steps that you need to take after you fall to improve the chances of you being compensated for your damages.
1. Get Medical Help
A fall can be devastating, especially to the very young or elderly. Make sure that you get medical attention right away. If you feel it is not an emergency, it is still important to be checked by a medical professional as soon as possible. Sometimes injuries are not immediately apparent and by the time you discover them, it may be too late to file a valid claim or lawsuit. Also, you may be accused of not being injured because you did not get prompt medical attention.
2. Report It
Directly after the fall, report it to the landlord, business owner, or if you are at work, follow your specific guidelines for reporting a work accident. Ask for a copy of the report. This report will be important information for your case and can be obtained and used by your attorney.
3. Take Photos
Take photos with your cell phone of the area where you fell. Make sure to document if there was anything on the floor that could have caused your fall.
4. Collect Information
Get the contact information of the property or business owner. Obtain names and contact information for any witnesses that were present when you fell. Keep this information in a safe location.
5. Call an Attorney
Call an experienced personal injury attorney right away. Get a referral or recommendation from a trusted friend or colleague. The statute of limitations in Illinois allows you two years to file a slip and fall case. It is critical that you consult with an attorney shortly after your accident. The longer you wait, the more difficult it becomes to document, prove and strategize for you to collect your damages.
Each case has its own particular facts and may deviate from the normal circumstances or rules. It’s important that you discuss your fall with a legal professional in order to create a proper legal strategy for your particular case.