Proper precautions can prevent most accidents, but one can still happen to you. For instance, a hazard on someone’s property causes you to stumble, slip, fall, hit your head, and sprain your ankle. Unsafe conditions like cracked floors, uneven steps, defective stairs, broken handrails, and inadequate lighting may have caused your injuries.
If you suffered harm while legally on someone’s property, a Seattle slip and fall injury lawyer from Ben Crump Law, PLLC, could advise you on your legal options and help you pursue compensation for your injuries. Get in touch with the team today by calling (800) 647-3113 for your free case review.
How to Know You Have a Valid Claim
Slip and fall accidents are among the most common types of personal injury cases. However, suffering injuries on someone’s property does not always mean you have an actionable claim or the right to compensation. Before you can recover damages, you must have legal grounds to hold another party liable.
Liability and damages are two crucial elements for a valid personal injury claim. If you can show that the defendant negligently caused your damages, you have established liability. Once you have done that, you might receive compensation either through an insurance claim or a personal injury lawsuit, which you could settle amicably out of court or pursue through a trial.
For a free legal consultation with a slip and fall injury lawyer serving Seattle, call (800) 647-3113
Proving Liability in a Slip and Fall Accident
Most slip and fall accident victims use negligence as the basis for personal injury claims, although there are rare instances where intentional wrong applies. Negligence is a legal theory that holds a party liable for their failure to act reasonably, given the circumstances. For example, the property manager did not repair broken stairs and missing handrails, and if a resident slips and falls as a result, the manager becomes responsible for the resulting damages.
However, establishing clear-cut liability is not a simple task. Sometimes, you could hold multiple parties responsible for the accident; a Seattle slip and fall injury lawyer can help you determine who might have liability.
The burden of proof lies with the claimant, so you must present relevant evidence like photos, video footage, documents, and witness testimonies. Pursuing a negligence claim involves four legal elements—duty, breach of duty, causation, and damages.
Duty refers to the legal responsibility one person has to another. Property owners and managers have a duty to maintain the safety of their premises for anyone legally on their property.
Breach of Duty
Breach of duty happens if the property owner, manager, or occupant failed to uphold their responsibility to maintain a safe environment with their careless or negligent behavior. Did the owner or manager act reasonably under the present conditions? Proving the reasonableness of someone’s actions is fact-specific. You must establish the liable party’s awareness of a potential hazard and failure to fix or warn others about it.
The third element of your negligence claim is causation—you must show that a direct link exists between the other party’s negligent act and your resulting injuries. For example, a store employee knew of a spill in an aisle but did not clean it up. When you slipped on the spill and broke your hip, that establishes the link between the negligent act and an injury.
Lastly, proving liability requires the existence of damages. You must prove that you suffered damages through medical bills, lost earnings, and other incurred expenses. In our previous example, you could claim the hospital visit, surgery, and other treatment for your broken hip.
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Slip and Fall Accidents Often Involve Insurance Companies
Property owners and occupants generally have premises liability coverage in their insurance policies. It covers claims by those injured while legally on the property. So, if you were in a slip and fall accident, you would first file an injury claim against the liable party’s insurance carrier. However, if an insurer believes they can deny your claim, they might do so even if it is valid. Other times, insurers will lowball you with their settlement offer, which many victims accept when they do not know everything they could recover. This lack of knowledge could be detrimental, as the amount you receive may not fully cover your damages.
Before negotiations begin, you might want to work with a Seattle slip and fall injury lawyer from Ben Crump Law, PLLC. They will calculate the value of your injury claim based on your current bills, estimated future expenses, and awards you could recover for pain and suffering. They can also review any offers you receive and present counteroffers to ensure you receive a fair settlement from the insurer and liable party. Call today for your free case review with a team member.
Certain Factors May Affect Your Claim
When pursuing a personal injury claim, you must consider many factors that could impact compensation, including relevant state laws. A Seattle slip and fall accident attorney will know the applicable statutes affecting your case’s possible outcome.
For instance, the insurance company may raise the issue of contributory negligence—it means that you were partly to blame for the accident and should have your portion of liability considered when determining compensation. Revised Code of Washington (RCW) § 4.22.070 establishes Washington’s rules regarding contributory fault, explaining how your share of fault for the accident proportionally reduces your potential award. For example, if your degree of fault was 30 percent, and a court awarded you $50,000, you would only recover 70 percent of your damages, or $35,000.
The statute of limitations is another aspect that your personal injury lawyer will consider. It is a set time limit that varies for every case and from state to state. RCW § 4.16.080 sets a three-year deadline for filing a personal injury claim. Once the limit has lapsed, a court might dismiss your case, unless there are applicable exceptions.
Finally, if your slip and fall accident occurred on public property, like a government office, you would file your claim first with the government entity that runs the agency (e.g., the Department of Enterprise Services (DES) if you suffered injuries at a state office building). If the government does not accept your claim, you must wait 60 days before filing a lawsuit.
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Why Seek Legal Assistance
Whether you decide to pursue an insurance claim or proceed with a personal injury lawsuit, you might benefit from retaining legal counsel instead of choosing self-representation. A Seattle slip and fall injury lawyer from Ben Crump Law, PLLC, has handled many cases similar to yours and can quickly assess whether you have a valid claim. They can then gather the evidence and documentation needed to submit your claim or initiate a lawsuit. To get started, call (800) 647-3113 for a free case review with a team member.