Did you slip and fall at a commercial business, a public area, or a private residence in Washington? If so, you may be eligible for compensation for your injuries. An experienced Seattle slip and fall lawyer can help you understand your legal options.
Contact us today – call (877) 999-9999 or email us. We’re available 24/7!
What Is a Slip and Fall Accident?
Slip and fall accidents are the biggest source of premises liability claims. According to the National Floor Safety Institute, slips and falls account for more than one million hospital visits in the U.S. each year. This type of accident occurs when someone slips or trips over a slippery or uneven surface or an obstacle in the walkway. Some common causes of slip and fall or trip and fall accidents include:
- Wet or uneven surfaces
- Cluttered floors
- Loose or torn flooring material
- Defective Sidewalks
- Potholes in parking lots
- Poorly constructed staircases
- Poor lighting that makes it difficult to see obstacles
- Electrical cords running across walkways
- Open desk or cabinet drawers
- Transitions from one type of flooring to another, such as from wood to carpet
- Missing or broken handrails
- Snow or ice. Washington doesn’t require the removal of snow or ice that accumulates naturally. However, if the property owner does decide to remove the snow or ice, it must not be done in a negligent manner.
While slip and fall accidents may seem like minor events, the injuries they cause can be quite serious, particularly for the elderly. Some common injuries suffered in slip and fall accidents are:
- Traumatic brain injury: Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injury, according to information from the Mayo Clinic, particularly for older adults and young children. While a mild traumatic brain injury may cause temporary cell damage, a more severe injury can result in bruising, torn tissues, bleeding and other physical damage to the brain that can have long-lasting impacts on the sufferer’s life and can even result in death.
- Hip and other bone fractures: Fractures are among the most serious consequences of falls and are the result of about 5 percent of all falls, the National Floor Safety Institute notes. Hip fractures are the most serious of fall-related fractures, heavily impacting the elderly population. Falls are the second leading cause of injury-related death for those aged 65 – 85, and the leading cause of injury-related death for those over 85. 60 percent of the deaths caused by falls are among those who are 75 or older. Each year, 30 percent of the population over 65 will suffer a fall. Of those, 10 percent will result in serious injuries. Other common sites for bone fractures from falling include the wrists, from the falling person attempting to “catch” —themselves with their hands.
- Ankle injuries: A twisted ankle from an uneven or slippery surface or improperly constructed staircase can cause a fall.
- Back and spinal cord injuries: The back is heavily relied on by the body for balance. When that balance is disrupted, back problems—including spinal cord injuries, damaged vertebrae, bone fractures, or damage to the soft tissues—may result. Tailbone injuries are frequently caused by individuals landing on their backsides during a fall.
Is the Property Owner Liable for Your Slip and Fall Injury?
Not all falls are the responsibility of the property owner. In order to prove that the property owner was liable in your case, you must be able to show:
- The property owner had a duty of care to keep his or her property properly maintained and free of obstacles.
- A hazardous condition was present on the property that the owner knew about or reasonably should have known about and nothing was done to fix this hazardous condition or to warn others of its existence.
- You were injured as a result of the property owner’s negligence in keeping his or her property safe.
The duty of care is different depending on what type of visitor you were to the property.
What Type of Visitor Were You?
Property owners—whether public, commercial, or private—owe a duty of care to their visitors. However, the duty of care that was owed to you depends on which type of visitor you were. Visitors are categorized as invitees, licensees, or trespassers. Here is a brief look at the duty of care that is required for each type of visitor:
- Invitee: Invitees are individuals who are invited onto the property to do business. Some examples of invitees include customers at a store, or a plumber you hired to do work at your house. The owner’s duty of care to an invitee is to keep property in a reasonably safe condition and to regularly inspect the property for hazards and to either fix those problems or property caution visitors to the hazards with a warning posted in plain sight.
- Licensee: A licensee is one who visits the property through the owner’s implied consent. Licensees are often family or friends who have been invited to one’s property as a social guest. The duty of care that a property owner has to licensees is to take action to make the property safe or to warn the licensee of the hazardous condition.
- Trespasser: Trespassers are visitors who are on the property without permission. While there is no formal duty of care expected from property owners to trespassers, it is illegal in Washington to attempt to deliberately harm trespassers, such as by creating booby traps or other hazards.
- Children: Property owners have a special duty of care in regards to children, even if the children are trespassers. The duty of care for children includes keeping the property reasonably safe and free from attractive nuisances such as unsecured swimming pools, abandoned cars, abandoned refrigerators and other potential hazards that a child’s natural curiosity may cause them to explore.
How Property Owners Should Prevent Slip and Fall Accidents
Property owners are required to keep their property reasonably safe for visitors. Here are some ways that this can be accomplished:
- Regularly inspect conditions both indoor and outdoors, repairing damaged walkways promptly.
- If you’re unable to immediately repair a walkway hazard, verbally caution visitors to your home and clearly mark the dangerous area with warning signs and caution tape if it is present in your business.
- Keep walkways clean of debris, including water or other slippery substances as well as boxes and other obstacles.
- Carefully and completely remove all snow and ice that may cause visitors to slip.
- Caution your visitors to freshly mopped or waxed floors.
- Repair broken handrails on staircases.
What Can I Do to Help My Slip and Fall Case
If you’ve slipped and fallen due to a dangerous condition on someone else’s property, the preservation of evidence in your case is important. Here are some tips on how to collect and preserve evidence that could show negligence in a slip and fall case:
- Seek prompt medical treatment for your injuries. Not only is this important for your own safety against dangerous complications from injuries, but it also begins the medical “paper trail” for proving your damages.
- Take pictures of the place in which you were injured. Your pictures should show the dangerous condition that caused your accident, any posted signs that warn visitors of the hazard, and any visible injuries you acquired in the fall.
- If the fall occurred at a business or on public property, file a written complaint with the manager of the property and keep a copy of that complaint for your records.
- Get the names and contact information of anyone who witnessed your accident.
- Contact a personal injury attorney with experience in premises liability cases who can guide you through the legal process.
How Washington Protects the Victims of Slip and Fall Accidents
Washington allows the victims of slip and fall accidents to seek compensation from negligent property owners through either an insurance claim or through a premises liability lawsuit, which is a form of a civil suit in which you must prove that the property owner acted negligently. Here are some of the highlights of premises liability laws in Washington:
- Statute of limitations: The time limit in which one must file a premises liability lawsuit is three years from the date of the accident.
- Comparative negligence: Even if you were partially responsible for your slip and fall accident, you still may be able to seek compensation from the property owner, if they too had responsibility for your accident. However, any award you receive will be reduced by your percentage of responsibility. For example, if you were found to be 10 percent responsible for the accident, your compensatory award would be reduced by 10 percent.
- Washington allows the plaintiffs of premises liability lawsuits to seek both economic and non-economic damages. Some of the damages that can potentially be sought include current and future medical expenses, out-of-pocket expenses, the cost of household services you’re no longer able to perform due to your injury, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
- Premises liability suits can be filed against both private and commercial property owners, as well as city, county, or state governmental entities. Some examples of situations that may give rise to a premises liability tort action against the government include slips and falls on improperly maintained sidewalks or bike paths, negligently maintained crosswalks, and slip and fall hazards at a public school facility or playground. The state’s Office of Risk Management must receive a tort claim form to initiate action against an at-fault governmental entity. You then must wait for 60 days before filing a lawsuit.
Slip and Fall Accidents in the News
According to an article from KIRO 7 News, a 19-year-old University of Washington student died after she slipped and fell on campus. The campus police responded to a call for assistance on the morning that the student fell, with a report that she had suffered a head injury. She later died at the hospital and the medical examiner stated that her cause of death was a blot clot that traveled to her lung. Days after the incident, signs on the sidewalk could be seen, warning people of ice that could cause the walkway to be slippery. However, the signs were not in place at the time of the accident. The university sent out a statement reporting that the student collapsed from a medical condition caused by the blood clot in her lung and that she did not slip as initially reported. The investigation into the incident was ongoing as of the report.
A woman filed a lawsuit against two businesses after she suffered injuries due to a trip and fall accident in December. The 70-year-old woman was Christmas shopping with her daughter when she tripped over a dangerous curb located between a theater and a bank building. She fell on her face, suffering gashes and severe bleeding from her nose, mouth, back, and legs, and also lost teeth in the accident. The suit seeks $25,000 to cover incurred medical bills. Reportedly both businesses were advised by the police department in Northville about the dangerous condition presented by the curb. Although changes to Michigan law make it harder to file a claim against businesses for damaged sidewalks, the woman’s attorney argues that the damage to the curb was not open and obvious and, therefore, the lawsuit could go forward.
A jury will decide whether a man’s injuries were caused by police violence or a slip and fall. In 2014, the man suffered a broken neck while being arrested. The man was left a quadriplegic due to the accident, which police say occurred when he slipped and fell as he was running from them. Medical experts prepared to testify for the man say that the injury likely occurred when officers stepped on the man’s neck, however, and were worsened when they moved him in spite of him saying that he couldn’t feel his legs. Surveillance video of the arrest was of such poor quality that it is not clear how much force was used, the article noted.
Seattle Slip and Fall FAQs
When you enter someone else’s property, whether it is a private individual or a place of business, the owner and proprietor have a legal responsibility to ensure your health and safety. You are putting your trust into another person when it comes to moving around an area freely without the threat of injury.
This makes property owners responsible for clearly indicating areas that are dangerous and must take suitable measures to make sure that visitors are kept safe. This responsibility includes clearly marking off dangerous areas, immediately cleaning up spills, and clearly indicating areas that are potential hazards for slip and fall injuries.
Regardless, slip and fall injuries do happen, and they are among the most common causes of serious injury in businesses and households around the country. There are many reasons why they are particularly serious, and the road to recovery is not an easy one.
What is a Seattle slip and fall injury?
Slip and fall injuries occur when a standing or even sitting person cannot keep his or her balance due to the presence of a slippery substance or slippery surface, causing the individual to fall to the ground or floor. A common location for a slip and fall injury to occur is an icy sidewalk or even a waxed tile floor that has somehow become wet. Even a poorly maintained sidewalk or road can cause a slip and fall injury, as debris is hard to gain traction on and may cause a fall. So too can loose rails or crumbling staircases.
Slip and fall injuries are particularly dangerous because they involve individuals standing upright and then being suddenly brought to the ground with the full force of their bodies behind them, suddenly stopping when striking an immovable object, floor, or ground.
What are some of the most common Seattle slip and fall injuries?
- Bruises and cuts: These injuries are especially common on gravel or loose soil. Abrasions of this kind are known as road rash, and if proper medical treatment isn’t administered, such injuries may become infected. These infections can lead to sepsis and even gangrene in some people, especially those with compromised immune systems.
- Broken wrists: You can easily break your wrist if you attempt to brace yourself from impact by sticking out your arms.
- Broken limbs: Falling in a certain way may snap the bones in your arms or legs, especially if you are older and have reduced bone density.
- Traumatic brain injuries: A traumatic brain injury (TBI) can result from what is known as an acceleration/deceleration injury. When your body is in motion and stops suddenly, as it would in a hard fall against the ground, and then returns to motion, this force can shear blood vessels inside the brain, leading to concussion, stroke, permanent brain damage, and even death.
- Broken hips: Especially in older people with reduced bone density, a broken hip can lead to permanent disability, reduced range of motion, and extended recovery. Sometimes, a broken hip may lead to serious complications, such as pneumonia from lack of motion, skin infections from bedsores, and even death from infection.
- Death: You can die from slipping and falling, especially if you get a TBI or break your neck or back.
Why are Seattle businesses liable?
Corporations in particular should be held liable for failing to comply with certain safety requirements. Typically, a slip and fall injury is avoidable if properly marked, cleaned up, or remediated. Employers should train staff members in the proper methods of marking and cleanup potentially dangerous areas. In fact, failure to do so constitutes negligence. What makes this kind of negligence especially heinous is that, oftentimes, areas of concern are not addressed due to a company eliminating proper safety training to save money.
Employees are only as good as their training and available equipment to do a job. For example, if you slip and fall on a broken jar of pickles in a grocery store, many things might run through your mind as your face is about to hit a floor covered in shattered glass. Why didn’t anybody mark this off? Why didn’t anyone clean this up before I slipped on it? And, this is really going to hurt.
You are right to ask yourself these questions, because the entire situation likely could have been avoided. However, the store might have decided to cut back on staff, if, for example, third-quarter profits were a little low this year, which is perhaps why the hospital will be picking pieces of glass out of your skin for the next few hours. In other words, businesses usually neglect their responsibilities to the public because of one thing: money. This is why businesses must be held accountable; not only to compensate for an injury you have suffered that could have been avoided, but also in a punitive manner to get their attention and make them do better in the future.
What is involved in recovery?
If you have been injured in a slip and fall accident, then you already know the expense, pain, suffering, and stress involved in recovering from such an injury. From the ride in the ambulance to the emergency room to X-rays, MRIs, and other imaging necessary to diagnose the severity of your injuries, the expenses will begin to add up. Throw in a few surgeries and possibly a hospital stay, and you are looking at tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills.
Depending on the severity of your injuries, you might be looking at rehabilitation, physical and/or mental, to get your body and mind back to where they once were. Doctors may prescribe you pain management medications, which come with the risk of addiction—not to mention the matter of overcoming post-traumatic stress, which might entail therapy.
If you have survived your fall and recovered from your injuries, you are likely left with massive amounts of medical bills, pain and suffering, loss time at work, and even the mental stress of continuing on in a life that just isn’t the same—all because someone didn’t do their job and as a result, injured you.
When should I retain a Seattle slip and fall attorney?
The answer is simple: as soon as you can. Finding a capable attorney with experience in handling slip and fall cases, particularly those that involve slip and fall injuries, will protect your rights as well as ensure you are fairly compensated for your injury.
How will I afford a Seattle slip and fall lawyer?
Lawyers who work on contingency don’t get paid unless you do, either via settlement or through an award the court has ordered the property owner to pay. Your lawyer will be able to discuss what percentage he or she expects to receive as a contingency fee.
Why should I retain a Seattle slip and fall attorney?
Insurance companies and businesses will low-ball you every time to maintain profit margins, which is why you need to even the playing field and find an attorney who will fight for you.
A skilled attorney will take the information and build a case, perhaps using the evidence revealed through discovery to attain a settlement in mediation or to establish the at-fault party’s liability and what is owed by the property owner. You may qualify for significant compensation for your injuries in a slip and fall accident, and an attorney can advise you on the best ways to address this moving forward.
Who should I contact?
Contact us for a free consultation. Your rights need to be protected! Start today on the road to a new life. We have the answers to the aforementioned, as well as many other, questions you might have.
We Can Help if a Slip and Fall Hurt You
If you were injured in a slip and fall accident, you may qualify for compensation via a premises liability lawsuit. Our Seattle slip and fall lawyers are eager to talk to you about your options. For a free consultation and case review, contact Boohoff Law online or by calling (877) 999-9999.
“Everyone here is so helpful. They jumped through every hoop necessary to get me the settlement I rightfully deserved. Tracey and Maria are super sweet. They made me feel right at home. I absolutely recommend Boohooff Law and will use them again in the future if I am ever in a similar situation. Thank you all at Boohooff who helped me with my case. 10/10 stars hands down!”
– Brandy K.