Slip, Trip, and Law: Navigating Slip and Fall Accidents in Seattle — What You Need to Know

Slip and fall accidents can happen to anyone at any point. Injuries from a slip and fall accident can range from relatively minor (i.e., bruising or tenderness) to severe (i.e., broken bones or brain injuries). While most people assume that most slip and fall accidents happen because of wet or slick floors, other factors, such as uneven surfaces, poorly maintained properties, loose cables or other obstructions, and other impediments, can cause you to lose your footing and become injured. According to the National Floor Safety Institute (NFSI), falls account for over 8 million hospital emergency room visits per year, representing the leading cause of emergency room visits (21.3 percent). These common accidents can happen to anyone, but people over 65 tend to suffer more severe injuries, such as hip fractures. Fortunately, Washington State laws allow victims of slip and fall accidents to seek and secure compensation from the party whose negligence or failure to maintain a safe environment led to the accident. Pursuing a premises liability claim in the Seattle area may seem overwhelming, but enlisting the guidance of a skilled and knowledgeable personal injury attorney can maximize your settlement offer and improve your chances of obtaining a fair and favorable outcome. Let’s take a look at how slip and fall accident claims work and the factors that will determine how much compensation you can recover to support your recovery.

Establishing Negligence in Slip and Fall Accidents

The first step in compiling a successful premises liability claim is establishing negligence on behalf of the property owner. The term “negligence” refers to an individual or entity’s failure to act with reasonable care, which resulted in harm or injury to another person. If you slip on someone else’s poorly maintained property and sustain an injury, you will need to provide evidence of their negligence to establish their financial liability and recover damages from them. As you move forward with your claim, you will need to demonstrate the following elements to prove negligence.

Duty of Care

First, you will need to show that the property owner had a legal duty to provide a safe environment for customers, guests, or visitors. Essentially, you need to show that the proprietor had the responsibility of keeping their property in a safe condition. For instance, if your accident occurred at a supermarket, you can argue that, as a retail facility that relies on customers and shoppers, the proprietor had a legal obligation to keep the premises in good condition and free of hazards to ensure the safety of consumers and employees.

Breach of Duty

Next, you must demonstrate that the property owner failed to uphold their duty of care, either by failing to address a known hazard or creating dangerous conditions. For example, the property owner may have let the flooring develop cracks or weak spots, making it easier for visitors to trip or lose their footing on these poorly maintained surfaces. Or, perhaps the owner knew that a large amount of liquid had spilled, but they failed to address it or clean it up—someone could slip on this slippery floor and become injured. Ultimately, proving a breach of duty comes down to showing that the property owner did not take reasonable steps to maintain the safety of their premises.

The Breach of Duty Caused the Accident

The next step in proving negligence is to show a direct link between the proprietor’s failure to maintain their property’s safety and the slip and fall accident. Your personal injury lawyer can help you identify and present evidence that shows how the poorly maintained or hazardous flooring (caused by the owner’s failure to keep it in good condition) caused you to trip, slip, and fall as a direct result. 

You Are Entitled to Recover Damages

The final step of establishing a negligence claim is to demonstrate that you suffered actual damages as a direct result of the slip and fall accident. Damages can include medical expenses, lost wages, physical therapy costs, and other costs resulting from the accident and your injuries. 

Calculating Your Claim’s Worth

Every slip and fall accident is different. While no one-size-fits-all calculation can determine how much your claim is worth, several factors can help you get a sense of the settlement value you may be entitled to recover. The bulk of slip and fall accident cases settle for between $10,000 and $50,000, but many cases settle for much more because of how serious and costly the injuries are. Generally, the more extensive and severe your injuries are, the more compensation you may be awarded to help you get your life back on track. Below are just a few factors that may influence the amount of compensation you are entitled to pursue after suffering a slip and fall accident injury.

Medical Costs

Medical bills tend to constitute the bulk of the settlement you receive in a slip and fall case. As you calculate your medical costs, be sure to include hospital bills, physical therapy bills, medication costs, bills for long-term care stays, and any other costs associated with your physical rehabilitation and recovery. Keep track of each bill so you can provide a clear and accurate picture of the financial toll your injuries had as a result of the slip and fall accident.

Lost Wages

Many victims of slip and fall accidents are not able to work while they focus on their physical recoveries. If your injuries prevent you from working, you can seek compensation for your lost wages during this period of rehabilitation. Additionally, if your injuries cause permanent damage that prevents you from returning to your place of employment, talk to your attorney about your options for holding the at-fault party financially responsible for this tremendous economic loss.

Non-Economic Damages

Serious accidents can affect much more than the physical body. It’s common for accident victims to develop symptoms of anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, or other types of emotional or psychological pain as they cope with their injuries and loss of mobility. Your attorney can help you pursue non-economic damages to support these other critical aspects of your recovery.

The experienced and dedicated personal injury attorneys at Scott & Scott, PLLC, are committed to helping clients throughout the Seattle area secure compensation after suffering slip and fall accidents. We understand how to develop and employ a successful legal strategy to maximize your settlement offer. Contact our office today at (206) 622-2200 to get started.

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