Slip-and-fall injuries can be more severe than you might think. The aftermath of this type of accident is much more than the immediate sting of hitting the ground. Instead, it is the lingering uncertainty and fear about what comes next. One minute, you are on your feet, and the next minute, you have to deal with personal injuries like broken bones and concussions that lead to costly medical bills, ongoing treatment, physical therapy, and more. The anxiety of unforeseen circumstances and physical pain following a fall can be overwhelming.
However, downplaying the incident, thinking “it was just a little fall,” can make matters worse. Ignoring symptoms or trying to push through them can cause much more significant, long-term damage. Chronic conditions and unpaid medical expenses hurt your physical and mental well-being and your pocketbook.
Instead, time is of the essence after a slip-and-fall accident. The sooner you visit the doctor after an accident, the better. In addition, if you are considering the next steps, it might be time to hire dedicated fall attorneys to help you through the process from a medical and legal perspective. The Coppola Firm has many decades of combined legal experience in Buffalo, New York. Call our law firm today to learn more from our personal injury lawyers or to schedule a free consultation.
What is the Slip-and-Fall Law in New York State?
Every property owner or manager in New York must maintain their property in a reasonably safe manner. That means that if someone is reasonably expected to come onto another person’s property, the property owner must remove possible hazards. Failure to address accessibility issues or upkeep of one’s property can lead to a premises liability case.
A sidewalk in front of a business or home is a good example. Because there is a sidewalk, the property owner should expect someone else to be on the property. As a result, they should keep the sidewalk reasonably safe for anyone who uses it. Keeping it safe could mean that they need to shovel or salt it in the winter, address any uneven or wet surfaces, or move debris in warmer weather.
New York also has “shared fault” laws that affect slip-and-fall accident victims. Comparative negligence decreases the amount of compensation you can receive based on whether you have any blame for the accident. That is, if the fall was in any way caused by you, then the property owner’s liability for your damages will decrease.
A property owner might try to blame the fall on you for any number of reasons. Examples might include:
- You were on part of the property where visitors were not expected.
- You were not paying attention to where you were going and should have seen the dangerous conditions.
- You wore footwear that would be unsafe or inappropriate.
- The dangerous area had warnings or was marked off.
In general, the percentage of fault you are assigned will decrease the potential monetary damages you can receive by the same percentage. For instance, if your inappropriate shoes were 10% of the cause of the fall, then your $10,000 damage award would be reduced by $1,000 to account for your fault.
The Importance of Seeking Medical Care After an Accident in New York
You should seek medical attention as soon as possible after a slip-and-fall injury. This is true even if you are not showing signs of any injury. Traumatic brain injuries and internal bleeding, for example, are extremely severe injuries that are not immediately apparent.
You May Fall Again
If you have a medical condition caused by the first fall that is unaddressed, you increase the risk that you could fall again. If you fall again, you not only have the potential to increase your injuries and damage, but it can make your fall claim difficult because it is harder to determine who is responsible for each injury.
You May Have an Underlying Injury
Injuries that are difficult to spot are also sometimes the most severe type of injury. After a fall, consulting with a doctor right away can help you detect any underlying injuries and address them before they get worse and cause more problems.
Your Medical Records Will Likely Be Used as Evidence
Medical records and opinions of medical professionals are important to any personal injury case. They are used to prove causation and damages, meaning you will use them to show the severity of your injuries and that your damage was caused by the fall. The other side will likely try to use the records to show evidence of a preexisting condition or that you did not sustain these injuries on their property.
What Other Aspects of Proof Are Needed for My New York Slip-and-Fall Case?
The injured party in every slip-and-fall case must show the following.
Duty of Care
The property owner had a duty of care, which included maintaining and upkeeping their property to be reasonably safe.
Breach of Duty
The property owner violated that duty of care by failing to maintain or upkeep their property — or they kept it in an unsafe condition.
Negligence Led to Damages
The property owner’s negligence caused your fall, and that fall led to damages (injuries).
What is the Process for a Slip-and-Fall Case in Buffalo, NY?
Filing a slip-and-fall case in New York can take a long time. It could be months or even years before the entire legal action is resolved. Here are the following steps one must take during the process of filing a slip-and-fall lawsuit.
Investigating and Evidence Gathering
The first step is to gather facts about the case. That will involve getting information from you about the fall and resulting damages. It might also involve talking to witnesses.
Filing the Claim
Filing your formal claim involves drafting a legal document to file with the court describing the accident and resulting damages.
Discovery is the process of gathering information from the other side — the property owner or manager. It might involve taking their statement, gathering videotaped evidence, or getting maintenance history for the property.
Settlement can occur at any point in the process, but it is most often productive after discovery is complete and everyone knows the facts of the case.
If a settlement cannot be reached, then you will present your case at trial, usually in front of a jury. Choosing an experienced Buffalo personal injury attorney is crucial for reaching a favorable outcome.
What is the Statute of Limitations on a Slip-and-Fall Accident in New York?
Slip-and-fall cases in New York must be brought within three years of the date of the injury. If you miss this time limit, your case will be dismissed. Certain property owners require shorter periods to provide notice of claim with your contact information, so speak with a Buffalo law office with slip-and-fall case experience for more information.
Who Will Pay for Medical Recovery Costs After a Fall?
If the fall was due to the property owner’s negligence, they will pay for your medical expenses, including trips to the emergency room and follow-up treatment. However, getting the property owner to pay those expenses can be a lengthy process, so your personal medical insurance company will likely cover those expenses first, and you may have to pay out of pocket for some medical bills. If your case is successful, the liable party will reimburse your expenses later. These injury lawsuits also address costs like pain and suffering, lost wages, and more.
Should I File a Lawsuit Against the Store I Tripped In?
Maybe. If you have enough proof to win your case, filing a lawsuit or negotiating a settlement with a store might be a good idea. It will also depend on where the fall occurred and how severe your resulting damages may be. Talking to a New York slip-and-fall lawyer can be very helpful in determining your next steps.
When to Call The Coppola Firm
If you or a loved one has been injured in a New York slip-and-fall accident caused by a negligent property owner, you might be able to file an injury lawsuit. Contact the Buffalo accident lawyers at The Coppola Firm for help negotiating and litigating these claims. We can use our experience and legal knowledge to help you determine your next steps during your free consultation.
Helping You After Sustaining a Fall
At The Coppola Firm, our legal team truly cares about our clients and wants to fight for their recovery after a slip-and-fall accident.
Lisa R., a former client, said: “David Goodman went above and beyond to guide me through my case. I was blessed to have his knowledge and expertise. He took away my anxiety of going through such a traumatic experience. There are not enough words to express my gratitude.”
Call to learn more about how we can assist you, or schedule a free consultation via our online form.