What to do after a slip and fall accident?
- Seek Medical treatment: After a slip and fall accident you will probably be in shock, embaressed, and maybe not even initially realize why you fell. You most important priority should be your physical health. You should assess whether or not you are injured, or hurt your head. You should seek medical treatment even if you initial feel well. Any delays in your medical treatment will be used against you by the insurance company. Call 911 if necessary.
- Take photographs: Slip and fall accidents are often caused by snow and ice or objects that can easily be removed from the scene. Photos are hugely important in these cases. When possible, use an app to date and time stamp the photos.
- Witnesses: Get the contact information of all witnesses to your fall. Witnesses will be crucial in helping to confirm your version of events, and the condition of the property when you fell. Witnesses memories can change over time, so it is crucial to get written statements from witnesses as soon as possible after a fall.
- Do NOT blame yourself: Any remarks that you make in the immediate aftermath of a fall are admissible at trial. Do not blame yourself for the fall!
- Keep all clothes: In particular, the footwear is extremely important. Insurance companies will try to argue that you were wearing inappropriate footwear for the weather conditions, or that worn threads contributed to your fall.
- Video cameras: Check the area where you fell for video cameras. Your attorney (hopefully me!) will need to send a spoliation of evidence letter to the defendant. This letter advised the defendant to not destroy any evidence, including video tapes.
- Do not talk to the insurance company! The insurance company and its adjusters are NOT on your side. Their job is to settle your case as quickly as possible for as little as possible. They can easily trick you into giving a recorded statement that can be used against you. You have no legal duty to give them a statement.
- Call or text me (Attorney Jason S. Kane) at 1-866-764-6060
Why should I hire Attorney Jason S. Kane? https://www.jasonkanelaw.com/why-choose-us/
- Over 22 years experience in handling dog bite cases in Massachusetts
- You can call, text, or email, 24/7.
- I offer you a free (no obligation) consultation.
- You can easily complete all paperwork electronically.
- I do not charge any legal fees unless you receive a settlement or award.
- I return all phone calls, emails, and texts as soon as possible.
- I know all the different tricks the dog owner and his insurance company adjustors will try to use to offer you less money than you deserve.
How much is my slip and fall case worth?
No lawyer can accurately tell you up front what the value of your slip and fall case is worth. Unfortunately, many insurance companies deny liability and slip and fall cases, and many juries rule in favor of the defendants in these cases. Bottom line, is there is no automatic liability in slip and fall cases, and no guarantee of success. However, an experienced slip and fall lawyer can gather evidence, retain experts, and take the necessary steps to put your case in a position where you are most likely to win.
Generally speaking, here are some factors which juries and insurance companies look at when valuing your case:
- Liability: Liability refers to how likely it is that the property owner will be held liable for your injuries. This is determined by many factors, including: did the property owner have notice of the defect? Notice can be actual (the property owner knew of the defect and did nothing to correct it), or it can be constructive (the property owner should have known about the defect). Another factor is whether there was a violation of any building codes. Often times I hire experts that will write up reports that detail how any violation of state, local, or federal codes contributed to your fall. These reports are crucial is showing that a property owner was negligent in maintaining the property. One of the most important factors in determining a property owner’s liability is the extent to which you contributed to the fall. There are many ways in which a fall could be partially your fault. For example, let’s say you fell on snow and ice, but were wearing slippers or flip flops. Most judges, juries, and insurance companies would find you at fault for your injuries because the footwear was not reasonable for the weather conditions. Massachusetts follows the modified comparative negligence standard. Under this standard, you will not recover from the defendant property owner if you are more than 50% responsible for the fall. If you are less than 50% responsible to the fall, then the property owner will only be responsible to you for their proportionate fault. For example, if a jury finds that your slip and fall case in worth $200,000, and you were 51 percent at fault, you will receive nothing. If a jury awards $200,000 and you are 20 percent at fault, then you receive $200,000 x 80% or $160,000.
- Pain and Suffering: Pain and suffering is a gray area, and is determined by how long you treated for, will future treatments be needed?, what was the diagnosis, will you have any permanency to your injury?
- Lost Wages: Did you lose time from work due to the fall? Will you lose more time from work in the future? if you are unable to work after your fall, you should get a work release note from a physician authorizing your absence. Without such work release note, the insurance company may deny your claim for lost wages.
- Medical Bills: Your present and future medical bills are one of the criteria that is used in evaluating your case.
- Disfigurement: Compensation is available for any scarring that results from your slip and fall accident. many slip and fall cases result in orthopedic injuries and surgery. These surgeries often result in scarring. The value of the scar is determined by: the location, your gender, your age, and the size of the scar.
Work related slip and falls
Most people understand that work related injuries are compensable under the worker’s compensation statute. Basically, you can collect lost wages, medical bills, and other compensation from your employer’s worker’s compensation insurance company. However, if you slip and fall while working, you may also be entitled to compensation from any third parties that caused your injuries. For example, if you are a delivery driver and fall on a customer’s walkway due to snow and ice, you can collect worker’s compensation benefits and pursue a claim against the property owner. When your case against the property owner settles, you will have to reimburse the worker’s compensation insurance company for benefits that it paid to you.
How much do slip and fall lawyers charge?
I do not charge any fee unless I am able to reach a settlement with the insurance company or defendant in your slip and fall case. No fee unless successful! I front all expenses in your case. These expenses could be in the thousands, between court costs, medical records, expert witnesses, etc. if a settlement is reached, my fee is 1/3 plus expenses. This is typical of what slip and fall lawyers charge in Massachusetts.
Snow and ice related slip and falls in Massachusetts
Until recently, snow and ice slip and fall cases in Massachusetts were extremely difficult to pursue. That all changed in 2010 with a landmark case: Papadapolos v. Target. In this case it was held that the owner of a private business could be sued for negligence due to a slip and fall cases, regardless of whether the snow and ice was the result of a natural or unnatural accumulation.
it is vitally important that you contact me as soon as possible after a snow and ice related fall. Under Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 84 Section 21: a person must notify the owner of private property within thirty (30) days of injuries or damage due to a snow and ice related fall. “Failure to give such notice shall not be a defense under this section unless the defendant proves that he was prejudiced thereby.”
Snow and ice related falls on public, governmentally owned sidewalks are particularly difficult. There is a 30 day deadline to notify the municipality of the fall, a $5,000 limit, and you must allege a defect in the public way other than snow and ice.
Common Causes of Slip and Fall Accidents
- Insufficient lighting: Lighting is hugely important, especially if you are not familiar with an area. Not providing sufficient lighting for business customers or tenants is negligence.
- Snow and Ice: In Massachusetts, snow and ice related slip and fall claims are common, and lead to some of the most significant injuries and payouts. To hold a property owner responsible for a snow and ice related slip and fall claim, the property owner must have neglected his duty to treat and clear the property within a reasonable period of time after the storm. What is “reasonable” is usually left up to a judge or jury to decide. There is no clear time limit.
- Torn Carpet/unsecured floor mats: I frequently see torn carpeting and unsecured/rolled up floor mats in stores and restaurants. There are simple, inexpensive remedies to secure flooring. Failure to do so is negligence on the part of the business owner/property owner.
- Missing/defective handrails: Missing and defective handrails are not only a hazard, but a violation of the building and sanitary codes in Massachusetts.
- Wet floors: A business owner can be held liable for wet floors, particularly if there are no warning signs.
- Potholes, uneven pavement: Parking lot trip and falls due to uneven pavement are extremely common, especially in old shopping centers and malls where property owners are trying to cut corners on repairs.
- Uneven flooring– uneven floor boards are a tripping hazard. At a minimum there should be a warning sign or some demarcation of the elevation change. Please note: A warning sign can not indefinitely protect a property owner from liability. The length of time that a property owner knows of a defect, and fails to fix it is a factor in determining negligence.
- Wires, chords, other tripping hazards: Often times stores leave chords, boxes, and other tripping hazard in the aisles where it is foreseeable that its clients will be walking down. This is a common cause of slip and fall/trip and fall cases, and the store can be held liable for your injuries.
Negligence in slip and fall claims:
Negligence: In order to hold a property owner responsible for your slip and fall, you must prove that the owner was negligent. There is a well known case in Massachusetts, Mounsey v. Ellard. in this case, the law states that a property owner owes a legal duty to maintain the premises in a reasonably safe condition. This duty includes an obligation to warn visitors of potentially dangerous conditions that are not open and obvious. When a property owner breaches his duty to keep his premises reasonably safe or to warn of unsafe conditions, then he can be held liable to you for your injuries.
One of the ways that a slip and fall lawyer can show negligence is to cite statutes, building codes, housing codes, and other violations of the law. This creates a rebuttable presumption of negligence.
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) discrimination against people with disabilities is barred. I often site violations of this act when handling slip and fall cases. Under the ADA if someone has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits life activities, they are considered “disabled.” The language is very broad, and many people could be considered disabled.
Defenses to slip and fall claims:
There are many defenses that property owners have to slip and fall claims. For this reason, these can be very difficult cases.
- Open and obvious: Defendants often claim that any defect was open and obvious, and therefore the plaintiff is not entitled to damages. An example would be if it was sunny out and there was ice on the ground. the argument would be, why did you not walk around the clearly visible ice?
- Contributory negligence: Property owners argued that it was your fault that you were injured.
- Trespass: Property owners are not liable to injuries to people who trespass on their property.
- Lack of notice: Defendants often argue that they had no way of knowing that there was a defect.
- Defendant under the influence: Insurance companies and their attorneys will often ask slip and fall victims of they were impaired by drugs or alcohol. They will even inquire about legal prescriptions, as some medications will cause dizziness and lead to a fall risk.
- Fall caused by other health conditions: I have handled many cases in which adjusters have argued that it was hypertension, or some other medical condition which caused the fall.
- Poor eyesight: When a plaintiff has poor eyesight, defendants often blame this as the cause of the fall.
- Age of the victim: Insurance companies often exploit a plaintiff’s age as a substantial contributing factor to the fall.
Will my slip and fall case go to court?
In general less than 5 percent of all personal injury cases make it to trial. While the odds of a trial for civil damages is low, you are probably more likely to go to trial for a slip and fall case than other case types. Why is this? It is because of jury bias, and many of the defenses available to slip and fall defendants. (See the paragraph above). Juries are skeptical of slip and fall cases, and do like to blame the victim. For this reason a jury verdict for the plaintiff is far from guaranteed. It is often advisable to accept settlement offers that would be rejected for other case types.
Whenever possible, I try to settle slip and fall cases pre-suit. When this is not possible I will file a lawsuit on your behalf. Filing a lawsuit does NOT mean that a trial is guaranteed. Filing suit often leads to settlement prior to trial, especially if you present as a good witness during pre-trial discovery.
Statute of limitation Massachusetts slip and fall cases
There is generally a three year (3) statute of limitations in Massachusetts to file a lawsuit for a slip and fall case against a private property owner. After three (3) years you can not bring a claim. this three (3) year limit will be extended to twenty one (21) years of age if the injured victim was under 18 when they fell.
While three years seems like a long time, there are many reasons not to hesitate. These cases require a lot of evidence, which can be lost. Photos and experts are essential. Photos can be lost, witnesses may pass away, or move out of state. The defect that caused your fall may be fixed by the property owner, rendering an expert witness unable to write a report citing the cause of your fall.
Additionally, there is a high chance that the insurance company for the property owner will refuse to pay your claim. Your attorney will need adequate time to prepare for a lawsuit. Most attorneys will not accept slip and fall cases unless there is a lot of time remaining on the three year statute of limitations.
There are other, more imminent deadlines that you must be aware of.
In particular: Laws Chapter 84 Section 21: a person must notify the owner of private property within thirty (30) days of injuries or damage due to a snow and ice related fall. “Failure to give such notice shall not be a defense under this section unless the defendant proves that he was prejudiced thereby.”
Special rules also apply to claims against governmental entities. Under Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 84 Section 15 there is a $5,000 maximum cap against municipalities for injuries resulting from a: “defect in a public way.” Additionally, there is a 30 day notice requirement, and there must be a defect in addition to the snow and ice that caused the fall. Given all the hurdles, and the small $5,000 limit, most attorneys will not accept slip and fall cases that occurred on public sidewalks.
Slip and Fall Defendants:
Here is a list of some of the Defendants I have sued over my 20 plus years of practice.
- Landlords: Landlords have a high level of duty to tenants and their guests. Common areas should be: well lit, clear of snow and ice and other obstructions.
- Parking garages: Snow and ice falls are common in parking garages, as are falls due to oil slicks and uneven pavement.
- Big box stores: Parking lot falls due to snow and ice are common cases that I have handled, along with interior falls due to wet floors.
- Hotels: Hotels have a high level of duty to patrons. Snow and ice falls, falls in bathtubs with no slip resistant flooring, and missing handrails are quite common.
- Snow removal contractors: Many snow removal contractors have contracts in place with business owners in which they are liable for slip and fall claims to inadequately treated icy parking lots.
- Homeowners: Homeowners should clear snow and ice if they are expecting delivery men to be coming to their home, or other invitees.
- Property Managers: Landlords often delegate the duty to maintain a property to a property manger, who can also be a potential defendant.
- Restaurants: Wet floor surfaces at restaurants are very common. I have had many cases against local and chain restaurants.
Slip and Fall Injuries:
Many slip and fall cases result in sever injuries that require expensive treatments, and surgery. Here are some of the more common slip and fall injuries that I have seen:
- Hip fracture
- Hand fracture
- ACL tear
- MCL tear
- Meniscus tear
- Lumbar strain
- Cervical strain
- Fractured patellar
- Ankle fractures
- Post concussion syndrome
- Thoracic strain
- Spinal cord injury
- Elbow injury
- Broken bones
- Dislocated fingers
- Knee injury
I graduated Providence College in 1997, have an MBA from Suffolk University, and a law degree from Hofstra University School of Law. I am licensed to practice law in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New York, and Pennsylvania. I have been practicing law since 2002 and work tirelessly representing victims of slip and falls. I have recovered millions of dollars for victims of slip and falls. I look forward to representing you and your family!
Jason S. Kane, Esq.
1-866-764-6060 (Call 24/7)