While many people point to death and taxes as the only two real certainties in life, there is another thing that is just as certain: accidents will happen. Unfortunately, those accidents often bring with them injuries for those involved. Many accidents are preventable, however, including those that involve slip-and-fall incidents. If you’ve suffered a slip-and-fall accident on another person’s property in Texas and experienced an injury as a result of that fall, then you may want to consider legal action to seek compensation for any damages you have endured. And if you are one of those reluctant souls who tries to avoid litigation whenever possible, you might change your mind if you stop to consider what could happen if you don’t take action.
Don’t Shoulder It On Your Own
If you choose to simply deal with your injury yourself, that’s exactly what you’ll be: on your own. And that could have dire consequences for you and your family.
- You will be left to bear the cost of any medical treatment your injuries necessitate.
- You will have to suffer the loss of any income you miss due to time away from work.
- You will have to pay for your own physical rehabilitation, should that be necessary.
- You will be forced to deal with a complete loss of income in the event that your injury is serious enough to leave you permanently disabled and unable to work.
- You will have forfeited your right to seek redress for that property owner’s negligence.
According to the National Floor Safety Institute, roughly 1 million of the nation’s emergency room visits each year are due to injuries sustained in slip-and-fall accidents. The Bureau of Labor estimated back in 2002 that more than a fifth of slip-and-fall incidents caused injuries that resulted in accident victims being away from work for at least 31 days. Few workers can afford to lose a month of income just to avoid the litigation process.
Consider Your Options
In Texas, the state’s laws have established a two-year statute of limitations for most civil actions related to slip-and-fall accidents. That means that you have only two years in which to file any lawsuit to seek compensation for the damages you have suffered as a result of any personal injury of this nature. That includes actual financial damages, as well as any damage that may have been done to your personal property. While that might seem like a lot of time to consider your various options, there are some important things to keep in mind as you decide whether or not to pursue legal action.
- Timeliness matters. As a general rule, you should seek medical assistance as soon after the accident as possible. If an injury is discovered, and if that injury is the result of your fall, then you may be entitled to compensation.
- If you wait to pursue that legal action, however, you run the risk of your injury being exacerbated by other factors unrelated to the initial accident – which could provide the defendants with a defense against your claim. You might also cause the jury to wonder why you waited so long to act once you discovered the injury.
- In any case, where damages are involved, the ultimate determination of any monetary award or settlement will depend in large measure on the outcome of your treatment. You may need legal representation throughout that process to ensure that nothing is done that might harm your chance of recovering compensation.
Your First Steps
In the aftermath of this kind of accident, it is critical that you consult with an attorney to determine whether a possible cause of action exists. That lawyer can examine the facts surrounding your accident, and help you determine whether the property owner can be found to be at fault for the incident. That finding requires certain elements, of course. Those elements involve the owner’s duty to ensure a reasonable level of safety to you, a failure to fulfill that duty, and evidence that such failure led to your injury and actual damages for which compensation can be rendered.
If those elements appear to exist, then you should consider pursuing the compensation you deserve. Keep in mind, though, that there are things that you must do if you want to maintain the best chance of recovering monetary compensation for your injury. Many of these things involve actions that you must take immediately after your fall:
- Report the accident to the owner of the premises, or a manager where appropriate. Make sure that the fall is properly documented and request a copy of any incident report.
- Take note of details such as the date and time of the fall, and who witnessed it. Get their contact information.
- Seek medical attention. This is important on general principles, to ensure your wellbeing – but is also critical for establishing cause and effect between the fall and injury.
- Contact an attorney. He or she will advise you to avoid conversations with insurers and to resist the impulse to post comments about your accident or condition on social media. Heed that advice.
With all of the emphasis on tort reform in recent years, you may find yourself wondering whether recent changes in the law may have eliminated your opportunity to receive compensation at all. Rest assured, injury damage caps in the state are thus far limited to medical malpractice suits. No such caps exist for slip and fall injuries, so you shouldn’t allow those concerns to prevent you from seeking your just compensation. Even if you believe that the fall was at least partially your fault, you may still have a claim under Texas’ modified comparative fault rules, as long as a jury finds you to bear less than 50% of the responsibility for the accident.
In the end, the decision of whether or not to pursue compensation in the courts has to be made by you. However, that choice should always be made with full understanding of the consequences you will face if you choose to absorb the financial impact of your injury on your own. Before you make that choice, consider seeking a consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney so that you can fully explore all of your available options.