Injuries from slip-and-fall accidents can feel unfair, overwhelming, and traumatic. Filing a lawsuit allows you to seek compensation for your injuries and financial damages, though you must prove negligence. A slip-and-fall injury lawyer can help you gather the evidence required to seek maximum compensation for your case.
So how do you prove negligence in slip-and-fall injury cases, and what evidence do you need? While your slip-and-fall lawyer in Queens, NY, can walk you through the exact requirements for your case, understanding the basic litigation laws upfront can help you prepare accordingly. Read on to learn everything you need to know about proving negligence in slip-and-fall cases in New York.
How Do Slip and Fall Accidents Happen?
Before we discuss who’s liable for your accident, you need to understand how and why slip and fall accidents typically occur. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and reports from the Consumer Product Safety Commission, some of the common dangerous safety hazards posing slip and fall threats include the following:
- Objects on stairs
- Broken and uneven stairs
- Loose or torn carpet
- Broken or loose stairway handles
- Non-secured area rugs
- Exposed extension cords and wires on the floor
- Slick, slippery, or wet floors
- Icy or snowy walkways
- Damaged pavement
- Walkway debris or obstacles
- Poor lighting
A dangerous condition can cause you to slip and fall at any place or time. Slip-and-fall accidents can occur while shopping in public businesses or visiting another person’s property. Regardless of where or when the accident occurs, you may be able to hold the negligent party accountable for the dangerous environment.
Slip and Fall Accident Statistics
Slips and falls may sound like freak accidents, but they occur more often than many realize:
- Falls are the leading cause of emergency hospital visits, with about 8 million accounts per year.
- Flooring materials directly contribute to about 2 million falls annually.
- 85% of workers’ compensation claims come from slip and fall accidents.
- According to the CDC, older adults report over 36 million falls each year.
- 42,114 fatalities occurred from slips and falls in 2020 at home and work.
- Over 211,000 workers suffered severe slip and fall injuries in 2020, requiring days off work.
Liable Parties in Slip and Fall Injury Cases in Queens
Now that you understand the prevalence of slip and fall accidents and why they often occur, let’s discuss proving liability.
Liable parties vary based on your accident details, like if it occurred at a business versus private property if a person or product manufacturer caused the accident, and who was in charge during the event. Your slip and fall injury lawyer can conduct a thorough investigation to help determine the correct liable party or parties for your accident so you can build a strong case.
Negligent parties may include the following:
- Property or business owners
- Property or business managers
- Employees on duty
- The building maintenance company
- Product manufacturers
An example of a product malfunction causing a slip-and-fall accident may be a stair handrail with inadequate fastenings. In this scenario, say the property owner installed the product correctly, but you used the handrail, and it came loose from the inadequate fastenings, causing you to fall. In an accident like this, the handrail manufacturer may be liable for your injuries rather than the property owner.
Proving Negligence in Slip and Fall Cases in New York
To successfully seek fair compensation for your injuries, you must prove that the liable party or parties acted in a negligent way, directly causing your accident and damages. Rather than navigating New York’s complex legal system alone, you should hire an experienced attorney to help build your case.
Slip-and-fall injury lawsuits in New York require four elements to prove negligence:
- Duty of Care
All property owners, managers, or people in charge have a standard of care they must maintain to keep the property safe for visitors. Their responsibility as the property owner involves removing hazards or assigning someone to do so in a reasonable amount of time so all property visitors can enjoy a safe environment.
The first thing you must prove in your slip-and-fall case is the duty of care that the negligent party has. For example, if they are the store owner, and you slipped on wet floors, you may have to provide evidence that part of their responsibility as a store owner is to clean up wet floors or block off the area. The purpose of this element is to prove that you’ve chosen the correct liable party or parties.
- Breached Duty of Care
After establishing the liable party’s duty of care, you’ll need to prove how they breached their duty. As discussed above, property owners must maintain a safe environment, so if someone notifies them of hazardous conditions, they should resolve the situation or block it off in a reasonable amount of time. For example, a breached duty of care may occur when someone notifies the owner of wet floors but they do not clean or block off the area within a few minutes.
Providing evidence of a breached duty of care can be tricky, as you may need to prove that the person knew about the condition and did not resolve it. An experienced slip-and-fall injury lawyer can help you gather the right evidence to fulfill this element.
Next, you must prove that the liable party’s breached duty of care directly caused your accident. If you can provide proof that they acted negligently but cannot tie it directly to your accident as the primary cause, you may not be able to seek compensation. Going back to the wet floor example, the liable party’s attorney could claim that you bumped into another person before the accident, meaning the wet floor didn’t primarily cause your fall.
A few ways you can prove causation include video evidence and witness statements. Accidents can involve many complex factors, though gathering clear-cut evidence with the support of your attorney can help.
Finally, you must prove all the damages caused by your accident with exact receipts, bills, confirmed diagnoses, etc. Immediately after your fall, you should seek a medical diagnosis tying the incident to your injuries to create the strongest case possible.
Victims occasionally have issues with this step of the process when they delay going to the doctor for a few days or weeks until the injuries worsen. If your diagnosis doesn’t come until weeks following your accident, the court may claim that you were injured from an unrelated event after the slip and fall. Certain conditions, like back injuries that have delayed onsets, offer more leeway to this rule, though in general, you should go to the doctor as soon as you can.
Your damages include more than just your initial medical expenses. You will want to gather all associated costs, including transportation expenses, lost wages from work, future treatment expectations, childcare costs, and more.
How Comparative Negligence Factors In
New York adheres to the comparative negligence law, which means liability isn’t always black and white. The jury may decide that both parties share some level of responsibility. In this scenario, the judge would assign a percentage of liability to you and each other party, which would reduce your total amount of compensation.
For example, say you slipped on wet floors, but you also bumped into another person before falling. If you don’t have enough evidence to prove that the wet floors directly caused your fall, the judge may decide you’re 20% responsible for the accident, leaving the store owner 80% responsible.
In this scenario, let’s say the total compensation pool is $100,000. Rather than being eligible for the full $100,000, you would receive $80,000 because of your 20% liability. New York’s comparative negligence law makes it essential to find a knowledgeable and experienced slip-and-fall injury lawyer who can build your case with strong evidence.
Critical Evidence in Slip and Fall Cases
We’ve discussed collecting evidence, though not exactly what evidence might include. While your lawyer can help you gather evidence after the fact, you’re the only one on the scene who can collect evidence immediately after the event occurs.
A few critical pieces of evidence to look for after a slip and fall accident include the following:
- Videos and photos of the entire scene, including the dangerous conditions
- Pictures or videos of your injuries
- Texts, calls, voicemails, or other evidence proving the liable party knew of the hazardous condition before the accident
- Witness statements or contact information
- Your clothes and shoes from the accident
- Medical diagnoses, reports, and tests following the accident
- Records proving you could not work due to your injury (if applicable)
- Evidence of lost wages (if applicable)
We recommend collecting on-scene evidence before reporting the accident to the store manager, as the people in charge may clean the area to amend the hazardous condition after learning of it.
Steps to Proving Negligence After Your Slip and Fall Injury
How you proceed after your slip and fall accident can significantly impact your lawsuit outcome. We recommend taking the following steps to protect your case:
- Evaluate your condition and seek emergency medical attention if necessary
- Collect as much of the evidence from the above list as possible
- Gather contact information from all witnesses on the scene
- Report the injury to the property manager or owner
- Do not disclose your injury severity in the report until you have a confirmed diagnosis
- Do not assume any liability when speaking with the owner, insurers, officers, etc.
- Seek medical attention as soon as possible
- Follow all recommended medical treatments
- Maintain all related expenses, records, and bills
- Contact a slip and fall injury lawyer as soon as possible
- File your lawsuit within three years of the accident to adhere to New York’s statute of limitations
How a Queens Slip-and-Fall Lawyer Can Help Build Your Case
A Queens slip-and-fall lawyer understands the critical elements in proving negligence in all different unique accident scenarios specific to New York law. If the liable party attempts to make you claim partial liability, your attorney can defend your rights and fight for your maximum compensation.
Contact an Experienced Queens Slip-and-Fall Attorney Today
If you need an experienced and knowledgeable Queens slip-and-fall attorney, look no further than Elliot Ifraimoff & Associates, PC. Our team has over 60 years of combined experience representing injured victims in Brooklyn, Long Island, Forest Hills, New York City, and Queens. Call our attorneys at Elliot Ifraimoff & Associates, PC, today at (718) 205-1010 to speak with a slip-and-fall injury lawyer in Queens, NY, about your case.
If you were injured in a non-slip and fall incident, like assault, medical malpractice, or a workplace accident, schedule a free consultation with a personal injury lawyer from our team.
How Do You Prove Negligence in a Lawsuit?
To prove negligence in a lawsuit, you must establish four elements: the duty of care, a breach of the duty of care, causation, and your damages. For example, if you slip on a wet floor in a grocery store, you may be able to prove that the store manager had a duty of care to clean the mess (duty of care), but failed to do so (breach in the duty of care), causing your accident (causation) and injuries (damages).
What Is New York’s Statute of Limitations for Slip and Fall Accidents?
According to New York state law, you have three years from the date of your slip and fall accident to file a lawsuit. If your accident occurred on government property, you might only have 90 days.
What Should I Do After a Slip and Fall Accident?
After a slip-and-fall accident, you should take photographs of the scene and your injuries, gather contact information from potential witnesses, report the injury to the property owner before leaving the premises, then contact a slip-and-fall injury lawyer. Seek a confirmed medical diagnosis as soon as possible, and do not leave the property without filing a report and gathering evidence unless it’s a medical emergency.