Slip and Fall Attorney in West Virginia
Slips, trips, and falls happen all the time. Most of the time when people fall down, they get back up and think nothing of it. There are times, however, when someone is slow to get up after a slip and fall accident, and they discover that they are injured. When this happens on the property of another party (whether commercial or residential), the injured party may be entitled to compensation under the legal theory known as “premises liability”.
Under this theory, a property owner can be held liable for accidents and injuries that occur on their property if the owner or caretaker failed to take reasonable steps to address all known hazards and/or failed to properly warn visitors that these hazards exist. Premises liability cases can be complicated and challenging to pursue, however, because injured parties are very often dealing with large corporations and their insurance companies.
If you have been injured in a slip and fall accident and you believe that the negligence of another property owner or caretaker played a part in the injury, it is important to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney, so you understand your rights and options.
Free Consultation with a West Virginia Slip and Fall Accident Lawyer
For over four decades, the award-winning attorneys at Bailey, Javins & Carter, LC have successfully represented clients who have suffered injury from a slip, trip, and fall on another party’s property. We have in-depth knowledge of premises liability law, and we routinely go up against well-funded adversaries in these types of cases.
We work closely with our clients, taking the time to thoroughly assess their case and explore all potential legal avenues toward obtaining full and fair compensation. We know the common tactics the other side uses to avoid responsibility in slip and fall injury cases, and we have the experience, knowledge, skills, and resources to effectively counter these tactics and ensure that those responsible for your injuries are held fully accountable.
How Do Slip and Fall Injuries Occur
Slips, trips, and falls can happen in numerous residential and commercial settings. These include:
- Private Residences
- Apartment Buildings
- Grocery Stores
- Malls and Retail Stores
- Hotels and Resorts
- Arenas and Stadiums
- Schools and Playgrounds
- Day Care Centers
- Construction Sites
- Office Buildings
- Nursing Homes
Owners and caretakers are supposed to inspect their property on a regular basis for hazardous conditions. Unfortunately, many fail to perform regular inspections, which exposes those who enter the property to many types of dangers. Slips, trips, and falls are usually caused by dangerous walking surfaces or related issues. Some of the most common causes include:
- Wet and Slippery Floors
- Uneven Surfaces
- Torn Carpeting
- Loose Floors
- Cluttered Floors
- Loose Handrails
- Broken Stairs
- Malfunctioning Escalators
- Poor Lighting
- Sidewalk and/or Parking Lot Cracks
A slip and fall accident can cause serious injuries and in the most extreme cases, fatalities. Head-first falls can result in a condition known as traumatic brain injury (TBI). Other types of injuries from falls may include back, neck and spinal injuries, soft tissue injuries, broken bones, and wrongful death. Younger children, disabled individuals, and the elderly are the most susceptible to severe injuries from a slip and fall.
Did you Have a Right to Enter the Property when you Were Injured?
The liability of property owners and caretakers varies greatly depending on the type of visitor that enters their property. Property visitors can be divided into three main categories:
- Invitees: Owners owe the highest duty of care to those who are invited to enter their property. Examples of individuals that would be in this category include tenants, customers/clients, hotel or resort guests, and employees. Reasonable care and maintenance are required to keep invitees safe and free from hazards.
- Licensees: These are individuals with implied permission to enter a property. Examples of licensees may include mail or package carriers, door-to-door sales people, neighbors, and social guests. Owners and caretakers owe the second-highest duty of care to licensees, and they are required to warn them of all known risks and hazards and refrain from willful or wanton misconduct that is intended to do them harm.
- Trespassers: These are individuals with no legal right to enter the property. Owners and caretakers owe a very low duty of care to trespassers – their only requirement is to refrain from willful or wanton misconduct or entrapment that may do them harm.
Damages in West Virginia Slip and Fall Accident Cases
Proving liability in premises liability cases can be challenging. To be successful, the plaintiff must show:
- The owner or caretaker owed the injured party a duty of reasonable care;
- That duty was breached;
- The breach in the owner or caretaker’s duty of care was the proximate cause of the injury;
- The injury resulted in compensable damages.
West Virginia uses a “modified comparative negligence” legal doctrine. This means that if the injured party is found to partially responsible for the injuries, their damage award is reduced in proportion with the percentage they are found to be at fault. For example, if your total compensable damages added up to $20,000 and you were found to be 25% at-fault for the accident, your damages would be reduced by 25%, or $5,000. In addition, if you were found to be at least 50% at fault for the accident, you can be barred from recovering any compensation at all.You can be certain that the other side will attempt to argue that you were at least partly to blame (for the accident) in an attempt to reduce the amount of damages owed or avoid paying damages altogether. Common arguments they might make include:
- There was a clear warning sign of the danger or hazard that led to the accident;
- The danger or hazard was “open and obvious” to a reasonable person;
- The injured party was distracted and did not pay proper attention to the hazardous condition;
- The injured party was in an area of the property that is restricted;
- The owner or caretaker was not aware that the danger or hazard existed.
To effectively counter these arguments, you must retain as much documentation as possible about the incident. Take multiple photographs of the area where you fell; write down, in as much detail as possible, what happened; and obtain the contact information of any nearby individuals that may have witnessed the event. Once you have done all this, call our office as soon as possible to discuss your case. The sooner we get involved, the better the chances you will be able to secure a favorable outcome.
7 Steps to Take After Slipping & Falling on Snow or Ice
Here are seven important steps to take after slipping and falling on ice or snow:
Take Photographs of the Conditions where you Slipped and Fell
Snow and ice on walkways will eventually melt or be cleared. For this reason, it is critical that you obtain visual evidence of the conditions at the time of your injury. If your slip and fall accident happened in an area that is fairly developed, there is a chance that there will be surveillance video, which can be obtained later if you end up filing a claim. That said, you should not count on that video being available. Take multiple photos of the area in and around where the fall occurred, and if you are physically unable to do so, have someone else take the photos for you.
Report the Accident
Be sure to report the accident immediately to whomever is in charge of the property where it occurred. If this is a commercial establishment, the process will usually be to request an incident report from the owner or the supervisor on duty. If it happened on a residential property, you will need to notify the owner or property manager and obtain their insurance information. If the accident happened in the workplace and/or while you were on the job, you should report it to your employer and initiate a workers’ compensation claim.
Obtain Statements from Witnesses
If there were any individuals nearby who saw what happened, get their contact information and if possible, ask them to provide a statement. Some witnesses may be willing to record an audio or video statement on your smartphone, and if this is an option, it is best to obtain statements from witnesses as soon as possible while everything is fresh in their minds.
Seek Prompt Medical Attention
After a slip and fall accident, it is best to get checked over by a medical professional as soon as you can. Even a slip and fall that seems minor at first can result in a debilitating injury that could keep you from working and doing your normal activities for a while, especially if you landed on your back, neck, or head. The sooner you get medical attention, the better your chances of getting the treatment necessary to put you on the road to recovery.
Document your Injuries
By following the prior steps, you will have visual evidence, an injury report, eyewitness testimony (if there are witnesses), and medical documentation. In addition, you should create your own report of what happened and take daily notes about the physical pain you are experiencing, your lost earnings, medical expenses you have incurred, and the activities you are unable to participate in because of your injuries. Save all of your records, receipts, invoices, and notes in one file that is organized and easy to access.
Do not Publicly Discuss your Injuries
In our day and age when many people like to post status updates on Facebook and other social media platforms, it may be tempting to post something about what happened to you. But it is important to realize that anything you post in digital form can be retrieved by the other side and taken out of context to undermine your claim. For this reason, it is best to refrain from social media posts and avoid discussing your injuries as much as possible.
Contact an Experienced West Virginia Personal Injury Lawyer
At your earliest convenience, get in contact with an attorney who has in-depth experience with premises liability claims. Property owners and other defendants typically push back hard against these types of claims alleging that they are frivolous and/or they are the fault of the injured person. A skilled and knowledgeable attorney will be able to fully assess the specific circumstances of your case and advise you on whether or not you have a valid claim and the steps that should be taken in order to recover full and fair compensation.
We work on a contingency basis. We don’t get paid unless you do.