If you are injured by slipping and falling – or by tripping and falling – on someone else’s property, what are your rights? If you were injured because the owner of the property was negligent, contact a Charlotte slip-and-fall accident attorney to discuss your legal options.
You may not know that slip-and-fall accidents – rather than traffic crashes – are the leading cause of spinal cord injuries in this country. But what are the causes of slip-and-fall accidents? And what steps should you take if you are the person who is injured in a slip-and-fall incident?
This brief discussion of slips, falls, and injuries in North Carolina will answer those questions, but since every case is different, if you’re injured in a slip-and-fall incident in or near Charlotte, you will need the specific legal advice that a Charlotte premises liability lawyer can provide.
What Should You Know About Slip-and-Fall Accidents?
Thousands of people are hurt each year, often severely, by slipping or tripping and falling. Slip-and-fall incidents cause over forty percent of the spinal cord injuries in the U.S. These accidents can also cause neck, back, head, and brain injuries, broken bones, contusions, and other severe injuries.
If you’re injured in this way on someone else’s property in this state because of that property owner’s negligence, you are entitled by North Carolina law to recover compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, personal pain and suffering, and other related losses.
What Causes Slip-And-Fall Injuries?
If you own a rental property, a business property, or other private property that provides access to the public, you must make sure that your pavements and sidewalks are even, that rugs and carpets stay flat, and that any spills, leaks, rainwater, and slush are cleaned up at once.
Slip-and-fall accidents are caused by hazardous conditions that include but aren’t limited to:
- freshly-waxed, wet, and slick floors
- accumulated slush and rainwater in doorways and walkways
- clutter and objects that obstruct walkways, hallways, and aisles
- doormats, rugs, and floor mats that are torn or curled
- aging, damaged, or uneven stairs, particularly wooden stairs
- cracks, craters, and potholes on sidewalks and in parking areas
- poorly lit or unlit parking lots, parking garages, and walkways
What Are a Property Owner’s Obligations?
The building codes in North Carolina are comprehensive. If you are injured on someone else’s property, and if the owner was not in full compliance with the building codes, a premises liability claim against the owner may in some cases prevail on the basis of those building code violations.
Property owners are usually deemed liable in slip-and-fall cases if they created a hazard that caused a slip-and-fall accident and injury. An owner may also be deemed liable if he or she was aware of a hazard but neglected to repair or clean up the hazard.
You often hear the word “reasonable” used in discussions about slip-and-fall accidents. Property owners cannot be expected to clean up or repair every potential hazard immediately, but they are required to take “reasonable” measures to maintain the safety of their premises.
Moreover, property owners are not responsible if you slip and fall because you weren’t watching where you were going. Should you stumble into a neighbor’s pool or barbecue pit because your smartphone distracted you, your neighbor can’t be held responsible.
What Should You Do After a Slip-and-Fall Accident?
Get medical attention immediately if you are injured in a slip-and-fall accident. You should be examined right away for latent or difficult-to-detect injuries, and you will need those exam results if you bring an injury claim seeking compensation for your medical bills and lost wages.
In or near the Charlotte area, if you are injured on someone else’s private property in a slip-and-fall incident, after you’ve been examined and/or treated for your injury, arrange at once to consult with a Charlotte slip-and-fall accident attorney.
A slip-and-fall accident attorney can help you recover compensation for injuries that may involve but aren’t limited to:
- slip-and-fall injuries at stores, restaurants, hotels, and amusement parks
- a slip-and-fall incident in another person’s home
- insufficient lighting in staircases, parking lots, and parking garages
- cracked or uneven sidewalks or poorly-paved parking lots
- substandard or broken balcony railings or staircases
How Do Property Owners Defend Themselves Against Injury Claims?
If you have been injured slipping or tripping and falling because a property owner was negligent, and if you and your attorney file a premises liability claim seeking compensation, the owner of the property may try shifting the blame for your injury onto you.
The defenses that property owners may put forth in their own defense against a premises liability claim include:
- The injury victim was not paying attention to his or her surroundings.
- The injury victim was in a no-trespassing or restricted area.
- The injury victim was wearing unsafe footwear or was barefoot.
- Yellow cones and warning signs were posted to tell visitors to avoid the hazard.
- The hazard was clear and obvious to a reasonable, average person.
How Are Slip-and-Fall Cases Resolved?
Your attorney will handle all of the negotiations with the property owner and that property owner’s insurance company and attorneys. If you’re offered a quick settlement, don’t accept it until you’ve discussed your case with your slip-and-fall lawyer.
Most premises liability cases are resolved outside of the courtroom in private negotiations when lawyers for each side meet and work out a settlement that’s acceptable to all parties involved.
However, if your premises liability claim is disputed or if no reasonable settlement offer is forthcoming, your lawyer can take your case to trial and tell a jury why the property owner should compensate you for your injury and related losses.
What Else Should You Know About Slip-and-Fall Accidents?
You must take legal action within three years of a slip-and-fall accident or you will not be able to recover compensation under North Carolina’s statute of limitations, but don’t wait three years – don’t even wait three weeks – to speak with a Charlotte premises liability lawyer.
Memories fade and evidence deteriorates over time. It’s important for your attorney to examine the evidence while it’s fresh and to question any witnesses before their memories start to fade.
If you’re hurt in a slip-and-fall accident, the financial, emotional, and physical challenges may appear overwhelming at first, but a good North Carolina premises liability attorney will explain your rights, guide you through the legal process, and fight aggressively for your compensation.