- What is Considered a Slip and Fall Accident?
- Most Common Types of Slip and Fall Accidents in Houston
- Is a Property Owner Liable in Fall Injury?
- What to Do After a Houston Slip and Fall Accident
- Typical Injuries from Houston Slip and Fall Accidents
- Elements of Successful Fall Claims
- Houston Slip and Fall Laws
- Contact a Houston Slip and Fall Lawyer at Herrman & Herrman
A slip and fall accident can happen for many different reasons. Some of the most serious injury slips, trips, and falls are caused by unsafe walking surfaces.
When someone is severely or fatally injured in a fall, the person or business responsible for causing the accident should be held accountable.
In Houston, those who are hurt in slip and fall accidents may seek compensation from negligent property owners who failed to correct a property hazard or warn people about dangerous conditions on their property.
Seeking compensation for a slip and fall can be challenging. It is crucial to enlist a slip and fall attorney with the experience and resources to help you with your claim.
If you have suffered severe injuries or your loved one was killed in a slip and fall accident in the greater Houston area, you will want to contact our experienced slip and fall attorneys as soon as possible.
Slip and Fall Accident? 3 Reasons You May Not Be at Fault
If you’ve suffered a slip and fall accident, there’s a good chance that your first reaction to the incident was some level of embarrassment. Many of us are uncomfortable when we fall in public since those kinds of accidents tend to draw attention to us that we may not want. When that fall happens in stores, parking lots, restaurants, and other privately-owned areas, that discomfort can be magnified when store owners or others suggest that you are somehow at fault for the incident. Certain comments and questions might even have you wondering whether you should have been able to avoid falling altogether. However, there are three simple things that should indicate to you that you may not actually bear any fault for your slip and fall accident.
Ask yourself these three questions:
Was the danger a new problem that no one could have known about, or something that had been there for some time? It can be more difficult to prove a property owner’s liability in instances where the danger was so new that he could not be reasonable expected to have known of its existence. If the hazard has obviously existed for some time, however, then it may be easier to prove that the owner neglected to eliminate it.
Was there any effort on the part of the property owner to warn others about the danger? This question gets right to the heart of negligence in many cases, because it may indicate that the property owner knew of the danger and was so careless that he simply neglected to take the minimum action necessary to protect those who might lawfully enter the premises.
Take, for example, a case where a known pipe leak was causing water to leak onto the floor in a section of a restaurant. An owner who knew of that danger and took no affirmative action to post warning signs or cordon off the area could be found liable for injuries suffered by anyone who happened to fall in that area.
How obvious was the danger? This is important too, because you have some responsibility to be aware of obvious dangers and protect yourself. So, if there was a clear obstruction in your path and you were too distracted to see it, then you may be at fault for your fall. For example, if you were distracted by your cell phone and walked over an obstruction on the floor, you may be found to be at least partially responsible for your own fall.
Of course, all of this hinges on your lawful right to access the area in the first place. Obviously, you would have a hard time proving that someone else was at fault in cases where you unlawfully entered someone’s premises and exposed yourself to danger – as would be the case if you broke into a closed construction site, for example. When you do have a right to access the premises, however, you may be able to recover damages. In Texas injuries, the state’s reliance on the 51 percent Bar Rule enables you to recover for accidents in which you were not more than 50 percent responsible for your own injuries.
Why it Matters
According to estimates published by the National Floor Safety Institute, falls are the leading cause of injuries that result in emergency room visits – sending more than 8 million patients to the hospital each year. Slip and falls account for more than a million of those incidents. These accidents often result in fractures and other injuries, and are the primary cause for worker’s compensation complaints.
How dangerous are falls? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly twenty percent of falls involving the elderly result in serious injuries like head trauma or broken bones. Falls are responsible for at least 95% of fractured hips. Slip and falls can result in injury at any age, and can even result in death in some circumstances. In fact, slip and falls are responsible for about fifteen percent of all deaths in the workplace, according to the United States Department of Labor, and cost businesses about $4 billion in losses each year. Arbill has reported that roughly 19,565 people die as the result of falls each year.
How it Affects You
As interesting and important as those statistics are, however, the real impact of any slip and fall is always felt most keenly by the fall victim – in this case, you. You’re the person who has to deal with the pain and suffering resulting from any injuries you experience as a result of your fall. You are the one who has to manage the medical bills for treatment and endure the loss of income when you miss work. In some instances, you may even have to face a loss of employment due to disability. None of these are minor concerns.
That’s why it is important to think about who was truly at fault in your accident. Those questions and comments that you might have heard after your fall were designed to accomplish several things:
Someone wants you to question your own level of responsibility. This is typically done to cause you to second-guess yourself or admit to a fault – even if you did nothing wrong.
Insurance adjusters often use tactics like that to dissuade you from seeking compensation by leaving you with the impression that your cause is hopeless.
By raising issues that involve legal questions of fault and liability, defense attorneys and insurance company personnel will attempt to demonstrate that their legal resources put them in a superior position when it comes to any potential court case.
Don’t Slip or Fall for Those Tactics!
Never allow a property owner, insurance adjuster, or attorney to alter the facts of the case to suggest that you caused your own injury. Refuse to answer leading questions that might indicate that you were at fault, and seek legal counsel as soon as possible. Let a competent personal injury attorney go over the facts of the case with you to determine who was really at fault so that your right to compensation can be pursued. Before you fall for those tactics, get legal representation to secure your rights.
What You Need to Know About Slip and Fall Accidents
Slip and fall accidents are a fairly common subset of personal injuries. On their exterior, slips and falls don’t seem to be all that dangerous, but they can, in fact, cause severe and lasting harm. Slip and fall injuries can sometimes be more than a minor slide on a wet surface. They can cause hip breaks and other bone fractures, head trauma, and more. If you or a loved one has been involved in a slip and fall accident, here’s what you need to know.
What Can Go Wrong in a Slip and Fall?
Slips and falls are more than the punchline in your favorite slapstick movies. They can cause serious physical damage. Many slip and fall cases involve broken, sprained, or fractured bones. Slips and falls are among the leading causes of hip fractures, making them especially dangerous for individuals over 65. They can also cause brain injury, spinal cord injury, and other nerve and head-related trauma that can leave you paralyzed or worse. In any of these cases, the person who has slipped and fallen could be out of work for a while, making it a costly accident not only in medical costs but in lost wages as well.
Do I Have a Case if I’ve Slipped and Fallen?
If you’ve slipped and fallen at a business or other privately held organization, you may be wondering if you have a legal case. If you can prove, with the help of an experienced personal injury attorney, that your slip and fall was because of the negligence of another party, you could be eligible for compensation for your damages. That means that if a business was not careful enough about the slippery conditions at their establishment, they could have reasonably been acting out of negligence.
What Damages Could I Recover?
If you have slipped and fallen, contact a slip-and-fall attorney in your area to help. You could be eligible to recover medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering costs.
What is Considered a Houston Slip and Fall Accident?
A slip, trip, or fall accident happens when some hazard, such as torn carpet, rotted stairs, inadequate lighting or a wet floor, causes a person to fall and injure himself or herself.
Slip and fall accidents can happen anywhere, and property owner liability often becomes an issue. The owner and the insurance carrier will likely deny responsibility or try to shift the blame to avoid paying for your injury claim.
Disputes about liability are common in slip and fall accident cases, which is why it is critical for victims to retain legal counsel as soon as possible. Your lawyer will investigate the accident and work to build a convincing claim for compensation.
The lawyer will seek to negotiate a fair settlement that takes into account all the costs you’ve incurred and will incur in the future.
If the insurance company representing the at-fault property owner refuses to agree to a fair settlement, a slip and fall lawsuit may be filed asking the court to award compensation for injuries.
Most Common Types of Slip and Fall Accidents in Houston
Slip and fall accidents can arise from many different kinds of factors in a variety of public and private places.
Some of the most common causes include:
- Potholes, curbs in parking lots
- Defects in pavement
- Unsafe or hazardous premise/property
- Broken handrails
- Cracked or uneven flooring
- Torn floor mats
- Inadequate lighting
- Wet, slippery flooring
- Exposed cords
- Stray electrical cords and wires
- Dirty and/or trash covered floors
Some of the most common places slip and fall accidents happen are:
- Amusement Parks
- Escalators and Elevators
- Small Businesses
- Office Buildings
- Movie Theaters
- Grocery Stores
- Parking Lots and Garages
- Retail Stores
- Hotels and Resorts
- Public Spaces
When you have been hurt in a slip and fall accident, one of the most valuable things you can do is to take photos of the hazard that caused your fall.
Keep in mind that property owners will usually correct such dangers quickly after a slip and fall accident, so it is important to contact a slip and fall lawyer promptly. Evidence could disappear over time. Make sure to preserve the clothing you were wearing at the time of the accident.
Your shoes and clothes will tell a story, so don’t wash them. Give them to your slip and fall lawyer for safekeeping.
Is a Property Owner Liable in a Fall Injury in Houston?
Premises liability is the area of law governing personal injury claims filed against property owners for dangerous or defective property conditions. As the Supreme Court of Texas ruled in Nixon v. Mr. Property Management Company, Inc., 690 S.W.2d 546 (Tex. 1985), the duty a property owner owes to a person depends on a person’s status.
People are typically classified into one of three categories:
- Invitees — An invitee is a person who is on a property by the expressed or implied invitation of the property owner, typically for the mutual benefit of both parties. Any member of the public that is on premises open to the public is considered an invitee. A property owner has a duty to either warn an invitee about a dangerous condition or make the condition safe for the invitee.
- Licensees — A licensee is a person who is on a property with the consent of the property owner, but is usually there for their own benefit. A property owner has a duty to either warn a licensee about a dangerous condition or make the condition safe for the licensee. The property owner can only be held liable when they had actual knowledge of the dangerous or defective condition.
- Trespassers — A trespasser is a person who is on a property without the consent of the property owner. The trespasser is not owed any duty of care, but a property owner cannot cause injury to the trespasser or act with gross negligence.
Texas does recognize a certain exception to the duty of care owed to trespassers known as the “attractive nuisance” doctrine. An attractive nuisance refers to any object on a property such as a swimming pool or trampoline that is likely to attract small children too young to understand the inherent dangers.
When a property owner has an attractive nuisance, the owner must take measures so that it cannot be accessed by children. This may involve putting a fence around a swimming pool.
If the property owner fails to take adequate safety measures, the owner can be liable for accidents to children even when the children were trespassers on the property.
What to Do After a Houston Slip and Fall Accident
You should always seek medical attention first after a slip and fall accident. This is true even when you do not think that you were injured. Remember that many serious injuries can have delayed symptoms or not be readily apparent except to a medical professional.
When you wait days or weeks to visit a doctor, an insurance company will use that delay as evidence that you were either not as seriously hurt as you claim, or that you did not treat your injuries properly. This is a common tactic used to diminish the value of premises liability claims.
Look for people who may have seen your fall. Get their names, phone numbers, or some kind of contact information in case they are needed as witnesses.
Try to make sure that you contact a slip and fall attorney as soon as you are possible. Avoid speaking to any insurance company until you have legal representation.
Typical Injuries from a Houston Slip and Fall Accidents
Some of the most common injuries caused by slip and fall accidents include:
- Head injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Broken bones
- Fractured hip or pelvis
- Cuts and lacerations
- Sprains and strains
- Back injuries
- Spinal cord injuries (including partial or total paralysis)
Elements of Successful Fall Claims
A slip and fall lawsuit will require proof of the four elements central to most negligence claims:
- Duty of Care — A property owner must have had a duty of care to you to warn about a dangerous condition or make the condition safe.
- Breach of Duty — The property owner must have breached that duty of care by not warning about a dangerous condition or making the condition safe.
- Causation — The property owner’s breach of duty must have caused your injuries.
- Damages — Your injuries must have resulted in damages.
Most slip and fall cases are resolved through settlements. If the case goes to trial, your attorney will present your case seeking to prove the property owner’s negligence by a preponderance of the evidence for you to obtain a jury award.
Houston Slip and Fall Laws
Texas law establishes the statute of limitations of two years from the date of a slip and fall accident to file a lawsuit. The limitations period can be delayed when a victim was a minor. In that case, the slip-and-fall victim will have two years to file from the date he or she turns 18 years of age.
Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code § 33.001 establishes “proportionate responsibility,” more commonly known as modified comparative fault, under which a person cannot recover damages when their percentage of responsibility exceeds 50 percent.
Under Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code § 33.012, the court must reduce the amount of damages recovered by a person in a slip and fall accident case by a percentage equal to their percentage of responsibility. That means that a person who is awarded $100,000 in a slip and fall accident case for which they are found to have been 25 percent at fault will have their award reduced by $25,000 and receive $75,000 in compensation.
Contact a Houston Slip and Fall Lawyer at Herrman & Herrman
The attorneys at Herrman & Herrman are ready to fight for you if you were seriously injured in a slip and fall accident in Houston. We are a bilingual slip and fall law firm comfortable communicating in English or Spanish. We are available to help you, day or night.
Call (713) 565-1899 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation and let us help you get the compensation you deserve.