How to Determine Fault in a Slip and Fall Accident
Slip and fall accidents can occur anywhere. When these accidents occur out in public, like in retail stores, or on residential properties during social visits, a person’s natural instinct may be to pretend like nothing happened. The inclination to blame a slip and fall on one’s own absent-mindedness or distraction can lead to embarrassment, which may motivate an accident victim to leave the scene as quickly as they can. This is especially true of accidents resulting in minor injuries.
But slip and fall accidents can have severe repercussions. In fact, unintentional falls are the most common cause of injuries requiring hospitalization in Canada. While many people may walk away with only a few small bruises, slip and fall accidents can lead to serious and costly injuries. Injured victims may incur the costs of expensive medical care, be forced to take time off work to convalesce or undergo surgery, and may even have a reduced future earning capability, depending on the severity of their injuries. When an accident victim loses money because of these injuries, determining who was at-fault for the accident may help injured people recover financial compensation for their losses.
According to Nova Scotia’s Occupiers’ Liability Act, property owners in the province must exercise a reasonable duty of care to those rightfully visiting their premises. Therefore, property owners and occupiers are required to remove, repair, or adequately warn people about potential hazards on their premises. Failing to identify and address possible slip and fall risks on their property could make owners and occupiers liable for accidents that occur as a result of this negligence.
In order to prove the negligence of the at-fault property owner or occupier, an injured victim must be able to prove that the responsible party owed a duty of care to their visitors; that they knew or should have known about the hazard on their property; that their failure to address this issue caused an accident; and that this accident was the primary cause of the victim’s injuries.
Taking some simple actions in the moments following an accident might be beneficial for any legal action in the future. These actions include:
- Taking photos of the accident scene
- Collecting contact information from any eyewitnesses to the accident
- Recording notes about the time and weather conditions while they are fresh in your mind
- Submitting an incident report to the property’s management
- Documenting your injuries
- Keeping accurate records of any medical assessments, appointments, and treatments
- Tracking any lost income as a result of your injuries, including medical expenses and missed work
By properly documenting your slip and fall in the days immediately following your accident, you may be able to compile sufficient evidence to prove another party’s negligence.
If you have been injured in a slip and fall accident on someone else’s property, you may be entitled to financial compensation. If you are unsure if the accident was caused by another party’s negligence, consider contacting a Nova Scotia slip and fall accident lawyer. During a free consultation, a lawyer may be able to review the circumstances of your accident, and let you know if they may be able to help you pursue compensation for damages you incurred as a result of your injuries.
Common Injuries Resulting from Slip and Fall Accidents
Depending on the circumstances of the accident, including the person’s age and medical history, injuries sustained in slip and fall accidents can significantly impact a person’s life, as well as their livelihood.
Examples of serious injuries that could be sustained in a slip and fall accident caused by snow or ice include:
- Head injuries: A blow to the head or a forceful jolt can cause concussions, and traumatic brain injuries (TBI). These serious conditions may occur when the force of impact causes the brain to collide with the inside of the skull. If you begin to experience symptoms after a slip and fall accident, it is important to seek immediate medical attention. Symptoms may include dizziness, nausea, loss of balance, headaches, loss of memory, and more.
- Neck, back, and spinal cord injuries: The involuntary force of a fall and impact with the ground may result in spinal cord injuries, which could seriously impact an accident victim’s mobility. These injuries could result in complete or partial paralysis. Other neck and back injuries that might result from a slip and fall accident include fractured vertebrae, slipped or herniated discs, and chronic back pains.
- Shoulder dislocation and strains: Shoulder muscles that have been torn or strained during a slip and fall accident may cause accident victims to experience a limited range of motion, intense pains, and a prickling or burning sensation in their extremities. Often the cause of outstretching one’s arms to brace for the impact of a fall, dislocated shoulders may cause extreme pain which could impede an accident victim’s ability to perform routine activities.
- Soft tissue injuries: When accident victims sustain injuries to their muscles, tendons, ligaments, and other soft tissues, they may not experience the full severity of the associated pain until several days, or even weeks, after the slip and fall. If soft tissue injuries are not treated promptly, they could lead to complicated medical conditions and chronic pain. After your accident, even if you do not feel like you are in substantial pain, seeking immediate medical attention might help prevent chronic pains in the future.
- Damaged extremities: Cuts, bruises, lacerations, abrasions, facial swelling, loss of teeth, broken or fractured bones, sprained wrists, twisted or sprained ankles, and other damage to any of the body’s extremities can result from slip and fall accidents.
- Knee injuries: Depending on how a person’s body makes contact with the ground and the force of impact involved in their slip and fall accident, they may experience a range of knee injuries, including fractures, dislocations, sprains, bursitis, meniscus tears, and more. Knee injuries are complex, and could require lengthy recovery periods. Depending on the severity of the injury and their rehabilitation progress, knee injuries sustained in slips and falls may leave accident victims relying on the use of an ambulatory assistive device, like a walker or a cane.
- Hip fractures: Among the most serious of the potential injuries a person may sustain in a slip and fall accident, hip fractures often require surgery, and prolonged periods of recovery. Depending on the accident victim’s age, breaking a hip can lead to loss of mobility, independence, and even a loss of life. Out of all Canadian seniors who receive surgery to treat a fractured hip, 30% die within one year following this medical procedure.
Despite the fact that many slip and fall accidents only cause negligible physical injuries, like minor bruising, depending on the circumstances of the accident and the medical condition of the victim, the fallout from these accidents can leave a lifelong impact. Slip and fall accidents can lead to permanent, debilitating injuries, and even fatalities.
Who is Most at Risk of Injury in a Slip and Fall Accident?
Senior citizens are at the greatest risk of being severely injured in a slip and fall accident.
Falls are far and away the leading cause of injury for seniors across the country. Owing to their advanced age and potential frailty, even accidents that might allow a younger person to walk away unharmed could seriously impact a senior’s quality of life. In Canada, 81% of seniors’ injuries requiring hospitalization were the result of a fall, and often have long-term or permanent repercussions.
95% of Canadian seniors’ hip fractures are the result of a fall. This statistic is especially troubling, given the severity of broken hips, and the medical procedures required to treat them. After receiving hip surgery to treat these injuries, many seniors over the age of 65 never walk again, and lose their ability to live independently. Even more seniors suffer fatalities due to complications following hip replacement surgery.
How Can I Pursue Damages for Injury-Related Costs?
With the assistance of a lawyer, people injured in slip and fall accidents may be able to recover the costs of damages they incurred as a result of their injuries by filing a lawsuit against the negligent property owner.
If a slip and fall accident lawyer is able to prove that a property owner’s negligence caused their client’s accident, they may be eligible to receive financial compensation for the damages they incurred, including:
- Medical expenses
- Rehabilitation costs
- Ongoing medical care/in-home care
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earning capacity
- Adjusted living expenses
- And possibly more
If the slip and fall accident resulted in catastrophic injuries, leaving the victim with a diminished quality of life, a lawyer may be able to help them recover non-pecuniary damages, which may include:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- And possibly more
How Preszler Injury Lawyers May Be Able to Help
If you have sustained serious injuries in a slip and fall accident, time is truly of the essence. In the days following your injury-causing accident, consider contacting a lawyer as soon as possible to discuss the circumstances of your case and see if you are eligible to recover financial compensation for damages.
For a free, initial consultation, call Preszler Personal Injury Lawyers.