Slip and falls are a unique type of personal injury case. General liability and insurance rules can go out the window. This confusion leaves injured parties feeling “stuck” with their medical bills and other damages.
At Hershey Law, we hear the same questions and meet with clients who thought they had no case. They relied on the stories from acquaintances or legal advice from out-of-field attorneys.
Sometimes our personal injury experts can help them. Other times, they waited too long and passed the statute of limitations.
You might be tempted to listen to well-meaning friends and family members or the so-called expert advice on Google. Instead, read these slip and fall FAQs we put together for you. Then pick up the phone and schedule a free consultation with an attorney in our office.
The legal rights of a victim in a slip and fall are based on the negligence of the property owner where the accident occurred.
This doesn’t mean that the owner has to be a bad person. It just means that your accident has to be traced to their carelessness or negligence.
Without a direct correlation from their responsibility to you and your injury, there is no grounds for legal action.
But you may not be aware of the fine filament connecting their responsibility to you. That’s okay. It’s your lawyer’s job to determine causality and correlation.
Meanwhile, you can work on doing what you can to help build your case as strongly as possible. These answers to common questions will tell you what you need to know as you navigate this tricky time after a slip and fall.
As you deal with trying to set up medical appointments and filling out forms for job leave, you’re going to have questions.
You’re not alone. Many of those queries are typical for what you are going through.
Without knowing who to turn to for help, it can get overwhelming. To guide you in these early days after your accident, here are some of the answers to our most frequently asked slip and fall questions.
The problem is that this is not an all-inclusive answer. There are many variables that come into play with a slip and fall liability.
In the case of an automobile accident, there is almost always at least one insurance involved. Depending on the state and if it follows a no-fault rule, you can use that policy to cover your bills until it exhausts.
With a slip and fall, unless you have your own personal insurance, there isn’t an immediate policy to bill for your treatment.
After your attorney gets ahold of the property owner’s liability policy, it’s possible that med pay is attached to it. The issue then becomes proving that your injury meets the stipulations on the policy, which your attorney will deal with for you.
This ambiguity means that you’re responsible for your medical bills, at least up front. But this is also where having an attorney comes in handy.
Your attorney can direct you to medical providers who will accept an LOP, or Letter of Protection, in lieu of instant payment. With an LOP, the provider agrees to waive payment at the time of service and accept the balance in full when your case settles.
Not every provider takes LOPs. You would then be responsible for immediate payment, or your insurance will pay for your treatment and you’d pay copays and deductibles.
There are laws that protect your job during this time. If you are fired because of missed work due to your accident, your attorney can talk to you about your rights. You may end up filing a wrongful termination case in addition to your slip and fall, depending on the facts.
However, even if you keep your job, your employers are not required to pay you for your time off. Unless you have paid leave accrued, you will still feel the hardship of lost wages.
These financial hits, as well as any bonuses, benefits, and other income you lost due to the accident, can be recovered in your final compensation.
With that said, unless you were illegally on their property, behaving erratically, or under the influence at the time of the accident, your actions probably weren’t the problem.
Property owners have a duty of care to do their best to prevent dangers or safety hazards. But your behavior immediately leading up the accident plays a big part in how far that duty spreads.
If you slipped on an unmarked wet floor in a store, negligence is easy to prove. But if it was labeled and cordoned off with tape and you went through it anyway, the odds wouldn’t be in your favor.
As long as you had a legitimate reason to be where you were, and you were reasonably careful (i.e., paying attention, not walking while staring at your phone, sober, etc.), your own behavior, past or present, shouldn’t be held against you.
However, California follows the pure comparative negligence law. In general, this lets injured parties collect damages even if they were partly at fault.
Some states cap the amount of fault at 50%, meaning that if you were 50% or more responsible for the accident, you can’t collect damages. Other states subtract the amount of your responsibility from your compensation.
California, however, as a pure comparative negligence state, lets you collect full damages even if almost all of the fault was yours.
The trick is to say just enough to let them know you were injured, without going into detail.
Insurance adjusters are trained to ask specific questions and handle injured parties carefully. They know what to ask for and what words to listen for in order to put you at fault, or their policyholder less at fault.
The best thing to do is to call them with your attorney next to you. If you can’t, say as little as possible, and then direct them to talk to your lawyer the next time they call.
Try to take pictures of the scene of the accident and any visible injuries you sustained. Look around for witnesses. Get their contact information, including their home address. Sometimes months can pass before your attorney needs to get in touch with a witness. By then, they may have changed their phone number and disappeared.
Talk to the law enforcement on the scene but try to stay calm. Overemotional reacting might cause you to miss an important detail. It could also be used against you in court if the defendant tries to say you were acting irrationally before the accident.
Get treatment as soon as possible, even if you don’t feel injured right away. Many times, especially with muscular and spinal damage, the effects can take days or weeks to become apparent. Immediate medical treatment is the first part of documentation for your case.
Most of all, follow all of your doctors’ orders, even if you don’t agree with them. The specialists that your attorney will send you to know the chain of evidence necessary to win your lawsuit. They know what documentation is necessary, and in what order.
If you disagree strongly with their recommendation, such as a particular medication they prescribe for you, talk to the physician about other alternatives. If a compromise can’t be reached, talk to your attorney before making any definitive decisions that could hurt your case.
While these FAQs encompass the majority of our clients’ main concerns, at Hershey Law we understand that you have more individual questions.
Contact us today to schedule your free consultation. Let us help you handle the tricky legalities of dealing with a slip and fall accident.