As slip and fall accident lawyers based in Columbus, Ohio, we need to know the answers to four questions before we can begin to tell a potential client whether they have grounds for filing a lawsuit. The questions outlined in this brief blog post are just the most basic ones that must be asked and answered in order to succeed with a claim for compensation. Still, going through the list will help you know if contacting a Columbus slip and fall attorney for an in-depth consultation makes sense.
A slip and fall case is a personal injury case. Personal injuries only merit compensation when they are serious. No exact legal definition of “serious injury” exists, but indications of seriousness include
It is not necessary to check off everything in the list to prove that you suffered a serious injury when you slipped and fell. It is, however, necessary to have documentation of medical treatments and lost time from work. So, ask yourself if you will be able to provide doctors’ bills, prescription orders, therapists’ notes, health insurance statements, and pay stubs that indicate you were badly hurt and/or temporarily disabled as a result of slipping and falling.
Slip and fall cases exist in an area of law known as premises liability. A premises is any place people live, work, or take recreation—think of a park or public pool. Premises owners and legal occupants have enforceable legal duties to make and keep their buildings and grounds safe for customers and visitors. Meeting those duties requires doing things like complying with building codes, performing regular maintenance, fencing and controlling pets and livestock, and securing elevated objects so they do not fall on people. Premises owners and occupants also have a duty to warn about injury risks from, say, a wet floor or loose carpet.
If your slip and fall accident happened while you were at a store or a neighbor’s house and also because the owner or occupant was negligent in meeting their duties to protect you, you should have grounds for filing a slip and fall lawsuit. Again, the injury that is attributable to the negligence would need to be serious.
Work-related injuries are best handled via the workers’ compensation claims process. Ohio law makes it practically impossibly for an employee to sue their employer for negligence.
That said, grounds may exist for seeking compensation from a third party such as the contractor that installed the safety railing that gave way prior to your fall. But this would be a secondary concern. Consulting with an experienced workers’ comp lawyer will clarify whether you may have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit as well.
This is the question at the heart of many slip and fall lawsuits. Premises liability is rarely absolute because customers and visitors also have duties to protect themselves and act responsibly. Three examples of when grounds for a slip and fall lawsuits will not exist are
Instances where it will be much less clear whether a slip and fall victim was largely to blame for their injuries include
The classic example of a case handled by an Ohio slip and fall lawyer has the client breaking a leg or dislocating a shoulder when a store owner fails to post a Wet Floor sign after a spill or while the staff is mopping.
Most dangers that exist at businesses and around homes are less obvious. Stairs often go decades without being properly inspected or repaired when necessary. The railing on a balcony can fail to meet the height or weight limits set by building codes. Heavy boxes often get stored on high shelves and positioned in ways that make them prone to falling on unsuspecting customers. Stock clerks operating pallet jacks or forklifts may not slow down when rounding corners. Parking lot lights may burn out and go without replacement bulbs. A toxic cloud can form quickly when two cleaning solutions mix inadvertently.
Each premises liability case will come with its own unique story, but a Columbus, Ohio, slip and fall lawyer will need to answer one question: Could the property owner or business manager have taken actions to prevent the injury?
Not building to code, skipping routine maintenance, failing to train staff adequately in safety procedures, and not properly supervising workers can each constitute negligence of the type that makes a business or homeowner responsible for any harm that results from the oversight. Recklessness may also come into play when the business or property manager makes no effort at all to safeguard the premises.
Accidents do happen, but every injury, illness, or death has a cause. When you suffer harm at a store, restaurant, hotel, or acquaintance’s house that is severe enough to require hospital treatment, you should probably consult with a Columbus, Ohio, slip and fall accident lawyer. An attorney will help you collect and organize evidence of negligence or recklessness, deal with insurance company representatives, and calculate the actual cost of your slip and fall-related medical bills, time out of work, and lingering disability.
A Columbus slip and fall attorney must know that you sincerely believe that either you did not know an injury risk existed or you did not take actions that significantly endangered yourself. The defendant you name in your slip and fall lawsuit will almost certainly contest your version of events, which is why there will be a lawsuit.
You can connect with a slip and fall attorney by completing this form or calling our Columbus offices at (614) 221-3318 or (800) 678-3318. We advise and represent clients in personal injury and workers’ comp cases all throughout Ohio.