Slip and Fall Injury Lawyer
Slip and Fall Accident Lawyer in New York
Like any well-populated area, New York City has its share of hazards both indoors and outdoors that can cause people to slip, trip, or fall. Problems such as uneven sidewalks, protruding tree roots, uneven tile, spilled liquids, even black ice — the thin ice that forms on pavement in the winter — all can send feet flying and bodies crashing to the ground.
Slips and falls affect millions of people each year, but they prove most dangerous for people age 65 and older. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that one out of five falls causes a serious injury such as a broken bone or a head injury. Each year, roughly 2.8 million older people are treated in emergency departments for injuries related to a fall, the CDC says.
Even among younger people, slip and fall accidents can result in complex fractures, broken bones, soft tissue injuries, and other serious issues. These accidents can happen in a store or business, or on government or private property, for example.
At the Marcowitz Law Firm, our staff has extensive experience in handling slip and fall cases. We want to help you prusue damages to help pay for your medical care and other needs. Contact us now by phone or online for a free analysis of your claim and advice about your best legal options.
What Do You Have to Prove in a Slip and Fall Claim in NY?
New York law allows you to seek damages if you suffer injuries in a slip and fall accident, provided the property owner or an employee can be found liable. But you must file a personal injury claim within three years of the date of the incident that caused the injury. (The same timeline applies if you were not physically hurt but want to seek compensation for property damage, such as breaking a smartphone or a watch when you fell.)
To be legally responsible for any injuries, one of the following must be true:
- The property owner or an employee must have caused the hazard (a spill, a dangerous surface, an item underfoot).
- The owner or an employee must have known about the hazard but did nothing about it.
- The owner or an employee should have known about the hazard because a reasonable person would have discovered the danger and removed or repaired it.
A property does not have to be perfectly safe, but the owner must take reasonable safety measures. For instance, a damaged sidewalk, wet floors, accumulated snow and ice, potholes, and debris are all examples of potentially unreasonably dangerous conditions. Simply slipping on snow and ice on someone’s property may not be enough to prove a valid claim, especially if the property owner or an employee has cleared a path in the snow.
Let’s look at an indoor example. If a restaurant employee has mopped the restroom, the restaurant should have a warning sign or cone to alert people to the wet floor. If not, you may be able to recover damages if you slip and fall.
New York State law allows for a “shared fault” argument that can affect any award that you might receive. Simply put, the property owner or employee can dispute any negligence and claim that the injured person was careless or somehow contributed to the accident.
So even if you’re injured, you may bear some responsibility if:
- You weren’t paying attention to your surroundings, or you ignored warning signs and steps to protect others from harm. The law expects people to use reasonable care to protect themselves from injury. So if you were texting and didn’t see a large hole in the sidewalk that other pedestrians avoided, it might not be the property owner’s fault.
- You were on a part of the property where visitors aren’t allowed or expected to be. Someone who breaks into a mopped restaurant after hours may not be able to seek damages for falling on the slick floor.
- You take medication that makes you dizzy or sleepy, or has this as a possible side effect. Tranquilizers, sedatives, and antidepressants are known for this, but even some over-the-counter medicines can affect balance.
- You should have found the dangerous condition obvious.
Compensation for a New York Slip and Fall Claim
If you slip and fall on someone else’s property due to their negligence, you may pursue a claim to recover money for your medical expenses, along with lost wages and compensation for pain and suffering.
If the fall is especially serious and leads to death, such as a fall that causes a traumatic brain injury, surviving family members may pursue a wrongful death claim.
Any percentage of shared fault or comparative negligence affects the amount you receive. For example, a jury might award $10,000 for injuries suffered from a fall because of that wet restaurant floor. But if a jury finds that you are 40 percent responsible, it leaves the potential amount you could recover at $6,000, not the full award.
How to Protect Your Rights after a Slip and Fall in New York
Because slip and fall accidents can be dangerous, particularly for older people, you should seek medical treatment right away. Even if you don’t feel injured, let a physician examine you and determine whether you suffered any injuries. Sometimes injuries after these types of incidents can take days or weeks to manifest.
You’ll also want to do the following:
- Document the incident. If you fell on commercial property, speak to the manager. On private property, speak to the owner or building manager. Many places will ask you to fill out an incident report. Be sure to ask for a copy.
- Document the area. If you’re not too injured to do so, use your phone to take pictures of the area from several angles. If you can’t do it yourself, ask someone else on site.
- Collect contact information from any witnesses. This might appear on an incident report, but if not, ask anyone who saw your fall for their contact information.
- Keep records and receipts of all your medical treatment. This will show any correlation between your fall and your injuries.
Common Types of Injuries from Slip and Fall Accidents
According to the National Floor Safety Institute, statistics from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) show that floors and flooring materials alone contribute directly to more than 2 million fall injuries each year.
Typical injuries from slip and fall accidents include:
- Sprains and strains
- Traumatic brain injury
- Abrasions (bruises)
- Lacerations (cuts)
The head, hip, back, shoulder, wrist, elbow, knee, ankle, and foot are the most common areas of the body hurt from a slip and fall.
Fractures occur in 5 percent of all people who fall, the NFSI says. However, falls also are the most common cause of traumatic brain injury, the CDC says.
One out of five falls causes a serious injury in older adults (ages 65 and up), such as broken bones or a head injury, the CDC says.
CDC statistics show that in four older adults falls each year. About 2.8 million older people are treated in emergency departments annually because of injuries from falls. Of these, approximately 800,000 are hospitalized.
Hip fractures alone cause about 300,000 older people to be hospitalized annually, the CDC says.
The treatment for injuries from falls among these adults costs $50 billion annually, including Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance or out-of-pocket treatment, the agency says.
What’s more, falls are the leading cause of fatal as well as nonfatal injuries in this age bracket, CDC statistics show. During a single recent year, about 27,000 older adults died because of fall-related injuries.
How the Marcowitz Law Firm Can Assist You
After years spent practicing law in New York City, the Marcowitz Law Firm is well familiar with the dangers that can cause slip and fall accidents indoors and outdoors, in all sorts of weather. Our skilled staff can help gather evidence to support your claim, such as medical records and witness statements. We are ready to help you build a strong case for compensation if someone else’s negligence caused your slip and fall accident.
If you or a loved one has been hurt in a slip and fall accident and are unsure of your rights or whether you can seek damages, we’re glad to answer your questions. Please call us or contact us online now for a free consultation.