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Articles Posted in Slip and Fall Accidents

A person can fall and get injured for a variety of reasons—icy walkways, uneven pavement, intoxication, and even a bad knee or hip—to name a few. When the accident is the result of another’s negligence, the injury victim may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and lost wages. But proving that someone else is responsible for your injury isn’t always an easy task. Read on for more information about slip and fall injuries and how to prove that another party is liable.

Proving Liability

To prove liability in a slip and fall case, you must be able to show that one of the following two situations contributed to your injury:

  • The owner of the property, or an employee of a company, should reasonably have recognized the hazardous condition, such as an icy walkway or uneven pavement, and repaired the problem, but failed to do so.
  • The owner of the property, or an employee, caused the hazardous condition (i.e. spilled a slippery substance on the floor of a grocery store) and should have reasonably foreseen that someone could be injured if the condition wasn’t removed or repaired.

If, for example, you slipped on a substance that had been spilled only moments earlier, and a wet floor sign had been placed beside the spill while an employee went to get cleaning supplies, you may have a difficult time proving negligence. A Boston slip and fall attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.

Important Questions to Consider

In order for a slip and fall case to be successful, the responsible party must have failed to act in a manner that a reasonable person would have acted in under the same or similar circumstances. To determine this, you should ask yourself the following questions:

  • Did the dangerous condition exist for a long enough time that a reasonable person could have removed or repaired it (consider the spilled substance example above)?
  • Did the owner of the property perform routine checks and maintenance on the property? If so, did he/she keep a log?
  • Was there a justifiable reason for the hazardous condition, and was it still present at the time of the accident?
  • Could the potential danger have been lessened with preventive measures, such as blocking access to the area or placing warning signs next to the hazard?
  • Did poor lighting contribute to the accident?

The above questions can help you and your attorney determine whether or not negligence played a role in your injuries, and who may be liable. A MA slip and fall lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.

Helpful Tips

In addition to the questions above, you can improve your chances of success by following the tips below:

  • Take pictures of the scene of the accident. If you are unable to do so, ask if a witness can help. Photograph anything that contributed to the accident, such as a wet floor or debris in a walkway, and any injuries.
  • Ask witnesses for their contact information. If you decide to file a lawsuit, witness testimony can be invaluable to your case.
  • Write down everything that happened before you forget the details. Memories fade surprisingly fast.
  • Seek medical attention immediately following the incident. An official medical record will help to substantiate your claim.

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With the snow and ice of New England winters comes an increased risk of winter weather-related slip and fall accidents. If you fall in a public place, due to snow or ice, what are your rights?

Most snow and ice-related slip and fall accidents occur on sidewalks and in parking lots. Property owners must exercise reasonable care in keeping these areas well maintained at all times, including during wintry weather conditions. A business or property owner who fails to promptly remove snow and ice may be liable if someone is injured. A MA personal injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured in a slip and fall accident.

When it comes to public businesses, such as malls, grocery stores, and restaurants, property owners often contract with snow and ice removal companies to maintain their parking lots and sidewalks. Ultimately, it is up to the property owner to ensure that these areas are safe. If, for example, the contractor doesn’t show up with a plow during a snow storm, the property owner must still figure out a way to remove the snow. It might be time to call another contractor, or the property owner may just need to pick up a shovel.

Reasonable Care

All of that being said, customers and the general public must also use reasonable care when walking or driving in a snowy or icy area. If a customer – who wants to quickly get inside the warm store – sprints across the parking lot during a snow storm, he is not exercising reasonable caution. A Boston slip and fall accident attorney can help you recover damages if you have been injured by another’s negligence.

Natural Accumulation

It is difficult, if not impossible, for a parking lot to be kept entirely clear of snow during a blizzard. A property owner’s responsibility, therefore, is not to keep walkways and parking areas free of snow and ice, but to keep them “reasonably” free of snow and ice. Some states have what is known as the “natural accumulation” rule, which holds that a property owner is not liable as long as she did not interfere with the natural accumulation of snow. This was also the case in MA until 2010, when the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) overturned a 125-year old rule, replacing it with the “reasonable person” standard.

The SJC made the following statement: “If a property owner knows or reasonably should know of a dangerous condition on its property, whether arising from an accumulation of snow or ice, or rust on a railing, or a discarded banana peel, the property owner owes a duty to lawful visitors to make reasonable efforts to protect against the danger.” 

Take Pictures

If you are injured in a slip and fall accident, it is crucial to document your case in as detailed a manner as possible. Photographs provide some of the most compelling evidence, and they should be taken as soon as possible following the accident. This is especially true when snow and ice are involved, as weather conditions can change quickly and without warning. If you have been injured, photograph your injuries and the scene of the accident. With today’s smart phones, most of us have a good camera at our fingertips at all times. If you are unable to take pictures, ask a witness if he or she could do so on your behalf. Also, be sure to ask any witnesses for their contact information, in case you need to ask them a question about the accident at a later date. Continue reading

In order to recover damages following a slip and fall accident, you will have to prove that your injuries were caused by another’s negligence. As such, the more evidence you can collect, the greater your chances of a successful claim. One of the most compelling types of evidence is pictures. In the past, getting pictures of an accident scene immediately following the accident was dependent on one of the witnesses having a camera. However, with today’s smartphones, just about everyone is equipped with a high-quality camera at all times.

Causes of Slip and Fall Accidents

Slip and fall accidents can occur anywhere and at any time. Common causes include:

  • Ice or snow
  • Uneven steps or flooring
  • Debris or clutter in walkways
  • Poor lighting
  • Exposed wiring
  • Cracked pavement
  • Wet or slippery flooring
  • Missing handrails
  • Holes in flooring
  • Lack of warning signs
  • Worn carpet
  • Broken tiles

Types of Slip and Fall Injuries

According to the National Safety Council, slip and fall accidents send nearly nine million people to the emergency room each year. Some of these injuries are minor, but injuries can be serious, and even fatal. Common slip and fall injuries include:

  • Cuts and scrapes
  • Bruises
  • Sprains or fractures
  • Shoulder dislocation
  • Broken hips
  • Back and spine injuries
  • Neck injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries

Elderly people have a significantly higher risk of being seriously injured in a slip and fall accident, but all ages are at risk. A Boston personal injury attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured in a slip and fall accident.

Was Negligence a Factor?

If your slip and fall accident was a result of another’s negligence, you may be able to obtain compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and lost wages. But to do so, you have to prove negligence. Collecting solid evidence to substantiate your claim is the best way to prove negligence. Read on for more information about collecting evidence.

Take Pictures

If you are immediately able to take pictures, do so. Photograph any visible injuries, such as bruises and scrapes, as well as the accident scene and all surrounding areas. Did you slip on a spilled substance? Photograph it. Take pictures from multiple angles to show other potential factors. For example, did staff fail to place a “wet floor” sign next to the spill? Is there a visible clock on the wall showing the time? The more pictures you take, the better.

Ask a Friend to Take Pictures

If you do not have a camera on you, or you are physically unable to take pictures, ask a friend, relative, or witness to do so for you. It is important to get pictures before anyone alters the area in which the accident occurred – by placing a “wet floor” sign after the fact, for example. This is especially true of ice and snow-related slip and fall accidents. These conditions can naturally change within minutes. A MA personal injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured in a slip and fall accident. Continue reading

Since 2010, property owners in MA can be legally responsible for damages and injuries caused by a failure to remove snow and ice. The 2010 ruling replaced 125 years of legal precedent. Previously, owners were not liable for removing “natural accumulation” of snow and ice. But today’s landlords are legally obligated to treat snow and ice as a dangerous condition. Failing to do so could result in a personal injury lawsuit.

So, How Often Does a Landlord Have to Shovel Snow or Remove Ice?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this. In Boston, businesses have three hours and private residences have six hours to remove snow and ice. In Worcester, however, property owners have 12 hours. To be safe, snow and ice should be removed early and often. While it is not necessary to shovel every hour during an ongoing blizzard, doing so every few hours is a good idea. Once the snowfall has stopped, it is important for the property owner to ensure that snow is removed as quickly as possible.

Slip and fall accidents are one of the most common, and costly, workplace accidents. About $70 billion is spent annually on compensation and medical costs related to on-the-job slip and fall accidents. But people don’t only fall at work. Each year, fifty percent of all accidental deaths in the home are caused by falls. Slip and fall accidents in stores, parking lots, and stairwells also occur with surprising frequency.

As one of the leading causes of traumatic brain injuries and accidental death, falls also lead to quite a few personal injury lawsuits. Below are some recent slip and fall cases that resulted in substantial awards for the injury victims. A MA personal injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured in a slip and fall accident.

 

  • Earlier this month, an Alabama man who tripped over a pallet and fell while shopping in a Walmart was awarded $7.5 million for his injuries, which included a shattered hip. Although slip and fall lawsuits often settle for large sums of money, an award of more than seven million is rare. In this particular case, however, footage from the security camera revealed that many shoppers had tripped over the same pallet.

 

  • Xiaolei Zeng was recently injured in a Virginia Ikea store when a stack of countertops fell on her, crushing her pelvis. According to doctors, Zeng will experience chronic pain as a result of her injuries. A jury awarded her $3.2 million. A Boston slip and fall accident lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.

 

  • George Wallace, a Las Vegas comedian, sustained serious injuries in a slip and fall accident at the Bellagio. The casino was found liable for the faulty wiring job that tripped Wallace, resulting in permanent tendon damage. The jury awarded Wallace $1.3 million for his injuries and lost income.

 

  • Earlier this year, Bill Waite tripped on an unmarked step along a sidewalk, striking his head on a chair. Waite, who was left blind by the accident, was awarded $4 million in damages.

 

  • Colorado trucker, Holly Avery, slipped on a grease spill at a Walmart loading dock earlier this year. As a result, Avery suffered debilitating injuries to her back. Walmart denied the spill existed only to later find that an investigation into a grease spill at the site was noted in city records. In this case, Walmart had to pay even more than in the pallet case above. Avery received $10 million in damages.

 

  • Lorna Bernhoft, a student at the University of Pennsylvania, was paralyzed when she fell through a fourth floor skylight in an off-campus residence. Bernhoft settled with the building’s owners for $11.6 million.

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In November 2013, Suzanne Barnum was injured when she tripped over a pallet jack in a Home Depot store in Joliet, Illinois. As a result, she is suing both Home Depot and an outside vendor for her injuries. In this particular case, the question of who left the pallet jack in the aisle has been difficult to answer. At the time of the incident, employees of Glenn Walters Nursery were in the store, and may have been assisting with the pallet jack. However, both nursery employees and Home Depot employees deny that they were responsible for leaving the pallet jack unattended. According to evidence, it could have been an employee of either company.

The home improvement retailer requested that Barnum’s injury and liability claims be dismissed, arguing that they are “based on speculation and, therefore, have not created a genuine issue of material fact showing that either defendant breached its duty of ordinary care to plaintiff.”   Both Home Depot and Glenn Walters Nursery requested summary judgment, which is appropriate when a plaintiff fails to prove key elements of his or her claim.

“More Likely than Not”

Magistrate Judge Susan E. Cox denied the request for a summary judgment, writing that: “In this case, the court finds that plaintiff has pointed to sufficient evidence in the record from which it can be inferred that either defendant was more likely than not to have left the pallet jack in the aisle of the garden center.”

The home goods giant and the local nursery have cited Piotrowski v. Menard in their arguments. In the Piotrowski case, a customer tripped over planter stones that had spilled onto a walkway at a Menard’s store. However, the stones could have ended up on the walkway for a number of reasons, including simply rolling out of the nearby planter, or that a customer or child moved them. In Barnum’s case, however, the explanations as to how the pallet jack ended up in the aisle are limited. Customers are not allowed to use or move pallet jacks, so the chance of anyone other than an employee or vendor being involved is slim to none.

Witness statements suggest that an employee from either company could have left the pallet jack in the aisle. There is evidence that nursery employees used it that morning, but also that a Home Depot employee helped them. Both continue to deny responsibility. A Boston personal injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.

“Glenn Walters Nursery’s internal communications suggest that it was a Home Depot employee, which is sufficient evidence to infer that it was more likely than not Home Depot that was responsible for leaving the pallet jack in the aisle, thereby defeating its motion for summary judgment,” wrote Cox. However, such evidence doesn’t exonerate nursery employees. As such, Glenn Walters’ request for summary judgment was also denied.  Continue reading

Jesus Sanchez is suing Home Depot for injuries he sustained in a slip and fall accident in one of the store’s Florida locations. Sanchez claims he suffered damages due to the store’s failure to provide a safe environment. According to his claim, Sanchez was injured when he tripped on plastic wrapping left on the floor of one of the aisles. The defendant allegedly failed to provide adequate warning of a dangerous condition in one of the aisles, and to resolve the dangerous condition in a timely manner.

Store Liability in Slip and Fall Accidents

In order to determine whether a store is liable for your slip and fall injury, several factors must be considered. Did a dangerous condition exist? Did the store owner, manager, or landlord know about the dangerous condition? Did the store owner, manager, or landlord make a reasonable attempt to remedy the dangerous condition? Did you suffer damages? All of these questions will be addressed in a slip and fall case.

Take the above case for example. If a store manager knew about the plastic wrap on the floor but decided to take her lunch break before removing it, Sanchez’s injury claim may be successful. However, if the plastic wrap had been left on the floor because an employee was responding to an urgent situation in another aisle, and it had only been there for two or three minutes, Sanchez isn’t likely to receive a substantial award for his damages.

Slip and fall accidents in stores are commonly caused by spilled liquids or slippery substances, debris in aisles, uneven pavement or walkways, and icy or snowy walkways. Stores have a duty to maintain reasonably safe conditions at all times. When an unsafe condition in a store results in injury, the plaintiff may be compensated. However, whether he is compensated, and how much he is compensated, is largely dependent on the unique details of the case. A Boston personal injury attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured in a slip and fall accident.

Slip and Fall Accident Statistics

Slips, trips, and falls are a leading cause of personal injury claims in the United States, accounting for 15 percent of all accidental deaths. Anyone can be injured in a slip and fall accident, but who is most at risk? And where are slip and fall accidents most likely to occur?

  • Approximately one million Americans are injured in a slip and fall accident annually.
  • Among older Americans, slip and fall accidents are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs).
  • About 65 percent of all slip and fall accidents occur on same-level walking surfaces, not from higher levels.
  • Falls are the second leading cause of accidental death among people between the ages of 65 and 84.
  • Falls are the leading cause of accidental death for people aged 85 years and older.
  • Annually, more than 60 percent of nursing home residents fall.
  • Approximately 85 percent of workers’ comp claims arise from workers falling on slick or slippery floors.
  • In the U.S. alone, fall-related injuries are estimated to cost up to $14 million annually.

A MA slip and fall lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence. Continue reading

If you are injured in a slip and fall accident in a store, should you file a personal injury claim? And if so, who should you file the claim against? The following article will help you determine if you have a successful slip and fall case, and how to proceed if you do.

Was the Store Negligent?

If you’ve been injured in a slip and fall accident, step one is to determine if negligence played a role in your accident. Simply falling in a store doesn’t mean the store owners or managers are at fault. Tripping over your untied shoe laces, for example, wouldn’t justify a personal injury claim. But what if you slipped on a slippery substance that hadn’t been cleaned up? Well, it depends…

In the “slippery substance” scenario above, negligence may be a factor. Consider the following two scenarios:

  • Scenario A: A child grabs a glass bottle of iced tea from the store shelf and drops it, spilling iced tea all over the aisle floor. The mother notifies a store employee who immediately runs to the storage room to get a mop and a “Wet Floor” sign. In the moments before the store employee can get back to the spill, an elderly woman steps into the aisle and slips on the iced tea, breaking two ribs. No sooner has she slipped than the store employee returns with the mop and sign. He sees the woman on the ground and immediately calls for help.
  • Scenario B: A child grabs a glass bottle of iced tea from the store shelf and drops it, spilling iced tea all over the aisle floor. The mother notifies a store employee who says she’ll clean it up. But the store employee is on her cell phone, discussing plans for that night. Although she intends to clean up the spill, she forgets. The spill remains, untouched, for over an hour. An elderly woman steps into the aisle and slips on the iced tea, breaking two ribs.

In both scenarios above, the elderly woman may be able to file an injury claim based on negligence. However, proving negligence in scenario A may be difficult. In both scenarios, the woman slipped on a spilled substance that hadn’t been cleaned up. However, in scenario A, the store employee was doing everything in his power too quickly and effectively clean up the spill. In scenario B, the store employee prioritized a personal phone call over the safety of store customers. Continue reading

According to the National Safety Council (NSC), slip and fall accidents are the third leading cause of accidental death in the United States. In 2014 alone, nearly 32,000 people died from injuries sustained in a fall. Although slip and fall accidents are the number one cause of workers’ compensation claims, they are even more common in the home or community. Read on for more information about slip and fall accidents at home and in the workplace, and how you can avoid becoming a statistic.

  • Falls are the second leading cause of injury-related fatalities in individuals between the ages of 65 and 84, and the leading cause for those 85 and older.
  • Most fall-related injuries occur at ground level.
  • More than 60 percent of nursing home residents are injured in a fall-related accident annually.
  • Approximately 85 percent of workers’ comp claims cite slipping on slick floors as the cause of injury.
  • Nearly one-quarter of all slip and fall accidents result in at least one month off work.
  • Total costs for workplace slip and fall accidents reach about $70 billion annually.

How to Avoid a Slip and Fall Accident

The risk of being injured in a slip and fall accident rises with age, and is most likely to occur in the home or community. But workplace slip and fall accidents can also be fatal (nearly 600 deaths and 47,000 injuries in 2013). The tips below can help you dramatically reduce your risk of being seriously injured or killed in a slip and fall accident. A Boston personal injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured in a slip and fall accident.

  • Clean spills immediately.
  • Wait until freshly mopped floors have dried completely.
  • Walking paths should be clear of all electrical cords, boxes, books, toys, and other clutter.
  • Avoid using small throw rugs. If you must use them, apply non-skid adhesives to the underside.
  • Frequently used items should be stored in easy to reach areas.
  • Wear slip-resistant shoes.
  • Furniture should be arranged so as to provide open pathways for walking.
  • Drawers and cabinet doors should be kept closed.
  • Install handrails on staircases.
  • Install gates at top and bottom of staircases if you have little ones.
  • All walking pathways – indoors and outdoors – should be well lit at all times.
  • Check outdoor walkways for damages. Repair as needed.
  • Never stand on a chair or table to reach something.
  • When using a ladder, maintain at least three points of contact at all times (i.e. one foot and two hands or one hand and two feet).
  • A ladder should always be placed on a stable surface.
  • When climbing down a ladder, step one rung at a time.
  • Never lean or overreach when on a ladder.

A MA slip and fall attorney can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence. Continue reading

If another’s negligence has caused you harm, you may wish to bring a personal injury lawsuit against that person(s), business, or entity. Although any type of accident can result in a personal injury claim, certain accidents account for more claims than others. By hiring a skilled Boston injury attorney, you may be able to recover damages for everything from medical expenses to pain and suffering. The accidents that account for the most personal injury claims include:

 

  • Motor vehicle accidents: Crashes and collisions take center stage when it comes to personal injury claims. Nearly 1.3 million people are killed in car crashes annually; that’s an average of 3,287 deaths per day. And up to 50 million are injured or disabled.

 

  • Motorcycle accidents: Thousands of people are killed in motorcycle accidents in the US annually. In fact, motorcyclists are 35 times more likely to die in a crash than drivers of other motor vehicles. Dramatically reduce your risk of serious injury and death by always wearing a helmet, maintaining a safe speed when riding, and taking rider safety courses. A MA motorcycle accident attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured.

 

  • Bicycle accidents: As the warmer weather finally makes an appearance in New England, we are beginning to see more bicyclists on the road. This is a good thing – cycling is a healthy, economical, and environmentally-sound activity. But cyclists are prone to serious injury and death in a crash involving a motor vehicle. Protect yourself when cycling by avoiding adverse weather conditions, wearing brightly-colored gear, obeying road signs, and always wearing a helmet.

 

  • Slip and fall accidents: A leading cause of personal injury claims, slip and fall accidents can result in broken bones, lacerations, and even traumatic brain injuries. Second only to motor vehicle accidents, slip and fall accidents account for 15 percent of all accidental deaths.

 

  • Dog bites: Especially common among young children and the elderly, dog bites can result in permanent scarring. If you have been bitten or attacked by a dog, you may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and reconstructive surgery.

 

  • Medical malpractice: Medical negligence is one of the leading causes of death in the United States, but medical malpractice lawsuits can be extraordinarily complex. A knowledgeable malpractice attorney can help you navigate the process and recover damages if medical negligence has caused you harm.

 

  • Large truck accidents: Also known as 18-wheelers, big rigs, and tractor trailers, large trucks account for thousands of accidents every year. Unfortunately, due to their massive size and weight, accidents involving large trucks are often deadly. In 2015, 3,852 people were killed in accidents involving large trucks. Only 16 percent of those deaths were truck drivers. A whopping 69 percent were occupants of passenger vehicles.

 

  • Pedestrian accidents: Pedestrians accounted for about 14 percent of all traffic-related deaths in 2013. One-fifth of those fatalities involved hit-and-run drivers.

 

  • Boating accidents: Boating season is soon upon us…this is a favorite time of year for many Bostonians. Unfortunately, negligence, alcohol use, and inexperienced operators often lead to boating accidents, and serious, life-threatening injuries. Use your head – avoid alcohol and speeding, and make sure your boat is equipped with life vests and necessary safety equipment.

 

  • Work-related accidents: Injured on the job? In 2015, a total of 4,836 workers were killed on the job. That’s 93 deaths per week, and 13 per day. Work-related injuries are generally covered by workers’ compensation, but you may be entitled to additional compensation if negligence played a role.

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