Fall Cases

The Facts

  • Falls account for over 8 million, or 21.3% of hospital visits, according to the NFSI.
  • About one million of those are the result of someone else's negligence., according to the NFSI.
  • Slip and falls are the leading cause of worker's compensation claims.
  • 22% of slip and fall accidents cause the victim to be away from work for over 31 days, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (2002).

The Law

Under most circumstances, when a person enters a business, that person is considered a business-invitee, and the business owes that invitee certain duties: including, a safe environment to shop. The management of the business has a duty to inspect the premises and make sure there are no hazards; if a hazard is discovered, the business must remediate the condition, or at least, warn of the danger. If the business breaches their duty, then the business may be considered negligent, and thus potentially liable for any injuries or damages sustained by the victim. However, if the injured party was aware of the hazard before being injured, but chose to accept the risk of navigating the hazardous area, the injured party may be considered contributorily negligent, and thus barred from a recovery (this is the law in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area).

In addition to a liability claim against the business, the insurer of the business may offer medical-payment coverage which would pay at least a portion of the injured party's medical expenses related to the incident, regardless of liability.

Someone may also be injured because of a fall on private property (not a business), such as in someone else's home. If the fall was because of the negligence of the homeowner, there may be claim for negligence available. Typically, the homeowner's, or renter's, insurance policy is available to handle the claim. Of course, if there is no insurance, the negligence would have to be pursued without coverage to pay any judgment which may be obtained. Also, as in the case of a claim against a business, there is often medical-payment coverage available under homeowner's and renter's policies, that would pay medical expenses even before the liability claim is resolved.

In other instances, someone may fall because of a defect in the street or on the sidewalk. Assuming the fall and injury occurred on public property, a claim may be brought against the governmental entity responsible for the hazard. However, please be aware that proving notice in these claims is very difficult. The government has to acknowledge, or the plaintiff has to prove, that the agency had notice of the hazard, and in some cases, the government is then given additional time to repair the hazardous condition. Also, there are often very short time limits on how soon after an incident, that the government is put on notice of the claim. This is again why it is so important to contact an experienced personal injury lawyer immediately.

If you, or someone you know, has been injured due to a fall, and the fall was caused by someone else's negligence, it's highly recommended to discuss your options with an experienced attorney. Gelb and Gelb has represented over 10,000 clients and recovered in excess of $100,000,000.00 (one hundred million dollars) in compensation since being founded in 1954.