According to the National Floor Safety Institute (yes, it does exist), slip and fall accidents are the leading reason for emergency room visits in America. Every year, around 8 million people go to the ER for injuries sustained in falls.
The 5 Essential Questions To Answer After A Slip & Fall Accident
Were you injured in a slip and fall accident? Obviously there’s nothing to be ashamed of. As we’ve seen, slip and falls are surprisingly common. But now, it’s time to plan for the future. Here are six essential questions to ask before you file a lawsuit:
1. Do I Have A Case?
This is a really hard question to answer. And really, it’s the question that lawsuits are trying to answer for you. In a lawsuit, you’ll present an argument and see if it “sticks,” if a jury or judge agrees that you have a legitimate case. But before you decide to file suit, it’s a good idea to think long and hard about it.
Every claim you make needs to be:
You and your lawyer will have to prove it, all of it. Prove it through evidence, witness testimony and expert testimony. You have to prove that a property owner owed you a duty of care, that, in some sense, they had a duty to keep you safe. You have to prove that they broke that duty. You have to prove that you slipped and fell because they broke that duty. You have to prove that you are injured. You have to prove that your injury was a result of your slip and fall. That’s a lot to prove.
You don’t need to have all the answers right now; that’s what lawyers are for, building the case. But you should have a good sense that it’s possible.
You have to make sense, to the average person.
Remember that this is still an argument, and like all arguments it will be based on reason. Is your claim reasonable? Put in another way, are you expecting more out of other people than you should? A lot of cases fall apart when it becomes clear that a hazard was obvious. If so, courts usually decide that it was actually the injured party’s responsibility to notice the cause of their accident. This is a fairly reasonable expectation: if hazards are obvious, people should notice them on their own. Ask yourself whether or not your argument is based on any unreasonable expectations.
For a little more perspective on how to think about these questions, read our last post on “Can I Sue For My Slip & Fall?” here.
2. Will They Be Able To Pay?
Take a look at the person you are planning to sue. If you were injured in a slip and fall, this person is probably the owner of a private residence or a business. And then ask a simple question: do they have the money?
Securing a verdict in your favor is one thing; collecting damages is quite another. Would you bankrupt a small business by pursuing them in court? Is that something you are prepared to do?
3. Do I Have The Time?
If you are seriously injured, and especially if you’re out of work, this question might answer itself. But if you’re still able to work, pursuing a lawsuit may take time away from your job. And in either case, it can take time away from family and your social life.
4. Am I Within New York State’s Statute Of Limitations?
In New York State, you have up to three years after the date of your accident to file a lawsuit. After that, a court will dismiss your case out-of-hand.
But there are limited situations in which your deadline may be extended. For example, the “Discovery Rule” allows victims to file a lawsuit after the statute of limitations has expired if:
- they just became aware of their injury
- they just became aware that the defendant may have caused their injury
5. Have You Discussed Your Situation With A Lawyer?
Personal injury lawyers, the kind of attorneys who handle slip and fall cases, occasionally offer free consultations. And while they can’t yet offer you formal legal counsel, many will be able to tell you whether or not your case sounds legitimate.