Injuries resulting from falls are serious matters. Unlike most motor vehicle accidents there is no compressive steel shell protecting the injured person’s body from the forces of the fall. Concussions are quite common and severe. Fractures, lacerations, contusions and scarring are normal occurrences from falling. Whether a slip has caused the fall, or a trip and fall scenario, the general presumption is that the occupier of the premises has a duty of care to keep the premises ‘reasonably safe’ for people to traverse.
Slip and fall scenarios occur as a result of something reducing the coefficient of friction between a person’s footwear and the ground they are traversing. That can be ice, snow, slush, liquid spills, moss and organics, fruit and worn out flooring. Trip and fall scenarios on the other hand occur as a result of a hazard such as uneven stairs, low hand-rails, objects protruding up from the ground, sidewalk slab lippage, potholes, debris on the ground and poorly constructed stairs or pathways. Sometimes the liable person is a business or the owner of the premises. There is normally a maintenance contractor responsible for keeping the premises reasonably safe but fails to comply with their obligations. The local municipality can also be liable if the fall occurred on city property.
If the fall has occurred on a sidewalk, premises or pathway that could be city property, it is recommended to file a notice of the incident with the local municipality within 10 days. The Municipal Act places an onerous limitation upon claimants as against a city entity. Missing the 10-day limitation period for Municipal claims can be fatal to the claim. Even if the 10-day rule does not apply, prompt notice is always recommended so the insurer’s and Lemieux Law can promptly investigate the hazard or conditions causing the fall. The cause of the fall could disappear by virtue of weather conditions or be repaired prior to our ability to document the dangerous conditions. That scenario reduces the chance of success in advancing the claim as it becomes difficult to establish the cause of the fall with evidentiary certainty. Pictures, incident reports, witnesses and the ability to have the fall area assessed promptly by an engineer are critical elements of advancing a successful claim.
In some cases, not every fall injury will be successful. The standard is reasonableness, not perfection. Liability for the fall is highly contested and requires extensive cross-examination of witnesses to establish. A severe injury could have occurred; however, the defendant may have a reasonable system of inspection and maintenance and the claim will not succeed. It is essential to consult Lemieux Law at the outset to ensure your rights are preserved. Attempting to negotiate the claim with the insurer’s adjuster is unfair and will not attract the type of success, if any, the injured party deserves.
Injuries that are closely connected to fall’s also occur during recreational activities such as skiing, snowboarding, skating, sledding, riding ATV’s, dirt bikes, hunting, paintballing, and coaching sports teams. Occupiers liability is a branch of negligence law that applies to falls similarly to many other injuries caused, that is not a motor vehicle accident. The scenarios of events that can injure a person are endless. Playing hockey, golf, soccer, football or walking into a store are each fact patterns where injuries can arise. Understanding the underlying cause of the injury can reveal the intimate details required to connect the dangerous thing or place to the actual injury.
If an injury has occurred, it is important to contact Lemieux Law immediately. The sooner the matter can be investigated, the better the probabilities for success. The available damages for slip and fall or occupier’s liability claims include general damages for pain and suffering, wage loss claims, future loss of wages, forced early retirement, special damages for out-of-pocket expenses, future cost of care, housekeeping and home maintenance, caregiver, attendant care and other damages.
If you’ve been injured by a slip & fall / trip & fall accident, call Lemieux Litigation today for fair, dedicated and affordable representation.
We’re on your side.