Slip and Fall Accidents in Virginia
Important things to know about a Virginia “slip and fall” or “trip and fall” accident
A Virginia “slip and fall” or “trip and fall” accident can happen anywhere and could be caused by a variety of circumstances. At their core, many “slip and fall” or “trip and fall” accidents could have been prevented by other people taking care of the property they own or manage. Too many victims like you suffer serious injuries as a result of someone else’s negligence, which is why you need a Virginia personal injury attorney to evaluate your case and help you present a strong claim for compensation.
Common examples of a “Slip and Fall” or “Trip and Fall” Accident are:
- Slipping on a wet floor in a business, commercial building, or restaurant that wasn’t properly marked,
- Losing your footing on an icy pathway or parking lot that hadn’t been adequately treated for snow or ice removal,
- Tripping on a sidewalk that has not been maintained with jutting or broken concrete,
- Tripping on merchandise that has been improperly displayed, or
- Being hit by falling debris while walking near a construction site
Regardless of which category applies to your fall, if you were injured due to those hazardous conditions, then you have a potential claim for compensation in Virginia. There are many things that could affect the potential for a successful claim, however, and that is why it is important to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible after your injury.
Here are some important things to know about protecting yourself following a Virginia “slip and fall” or “trip and fall” accident.
It’s important to preserve evidence of the surrounding conditions and your fall
A vital way to strengthen your claim is to have evidence of the conditions that led to your fall.
To do that you need to preserve evidence. The following are several examples of how to capture evidence.
Take photos of the area where you fell
Photos and videos are an excellent method to capture evidence. Fortunately, in today’s world, almost everyone has access to a smartphone and can snap a photo or record a video very easily. When you take photos and videos, it is important to try and take them from different angles such as from far away, up close, ground level, eye level, and at different locations around the problem area.
It is important to recognize that conditions can change very quickly after you fall. An icy parking lot can be plowed, salted, or melt away within a very short period of time. A warning sign can be put in place, wet liquid can be mopped up, and hazards can be removed. That’s why you need to take action as quickly as possible to get evidence of the factors that resulted in your slip and fall.
If the walking surface is not level, such as holes or sidewalk panels that are lifted, it would be effective for you to use a coin, ruler, or another object to visually highlight that there is a discrepancy. This makes it easier for people to judge the size of the height difference.
If there was an unsafe condition, make sure it’s documented in the photo. If possible, take photos of the surrounding area to establish whether warning signs were posted.
Report your fall to the property manager or owner
After your fall, the property manager or owner know about the hazardous condition and the fact that you have fallen. By doing so, you are alerting the responsible party that you have fallen and been injured, and in turn, this creates a record of the incident.
Depending on what type of business you have fallen in, it is very common for a property manager or owner to ask you to write a brief description of what happened. If you do fill out any paperwork about your fall, you should assume that you will never be allowed to have a copy of the paperwork. It is very common for a business to take the position that the form is part of their investigation and therefore refuse to produce a copy later.
So, what to do? If possible, snap a photo of the completed forms BEFORE you turn it in to the property manager or owner. Taking this step will be very helpful to your claim and your future attorney.
Ask about security cameras
Ask the property manager or owner if there are security cameras that could have captured what happened and, if there are, if they would let you view the video. If they won’t, it’s important to take steps to prevent them from destroying the video, as many businesses only hold onto security camera footage for a short time. For example, you can send a written notice letter to the owner/manager asking them to preserve the video.
The surveillance footage can be useful because it can show the dangerous condition that led to your injury and may establish how long the property owner knew or should have known about the condition.
Are there any witnesses?
If there are any witnesses to your fall, take a note of their name, phone number, email address, and address. Witnesses can include other pedestrians or shoppers around you, as well as business employees who respond to you immediately after your fall.
Experiencing a “slip and fall” or “trip and fall” does not automatically mean you have a strong case
Everyone has slipped and fallen — or tripped and fallen — at some point. Sometimes these accidents happen because of someone else’s negligence, but it is very common for the property owner to argue that you fell because you weren’t paying attention. The property owner or manager or their insurance company will claim that you were negligent too and don’t deserve any compensation for you injuries. Common arguments they will make include:
- You failed to look for where you were walking,
- You failed to be aware of surrounding conditions, or
- You failed to see their posted warnings
Virginia uses the law of contributory negligence when determining liability, so if the defendant successfully shows that you bear some responsibility for falling, your claim may be denied.
It doesn’t take a lot for them to weaken your claim.
I help you prevent that from happening by collecting evidence about the nature of your accident and your injuries to show that their argument is unfounded. I also help you communicate with insurance companies so you don’t accidentally say something to them to weaken your claim.
In fact, I’ve worked for the insurance companies before, so I’m uniquely familiar with how their attorneys think. I know the arguments they’ll make to attempt to show you shouldn’t be entitled to any compensation, and I have strategies to fight back against those claims effectively.
People’s responsibility to you depends on why you were on their property
The highest degree of responsibility is on business owners, who welcome invitees onto their property to conduct business. Invitees include shoppers at retail stores, clients at a hair salon, and people who are using public properties like parks and recreation facilities.
If you are an invitee on a property, the owner must maintain the premises in a reasonably safe condition, warn visitors of known unsafe conditions or those that should have been known, and remove hazards in a reasonable time frame.
The next highest degree of responsibility is owed to licensees. These are people who are social guests but not on a premises for a business transaction, or people with implied permission to be on the property, such as a delivery driver.
The third degree of responsibility is to trespassers. These are people who are not invited or welcome on the property and who the property owner may not even be aware are on their property. Although a property owner doesn’t owe as high a responsibility to these people, there is still a duty to ensure there are no unreasonable hazards.
An important component of a Virginia slip and fall lawsuit is that the owner knew or should have known about the hazard. It’s important to collect evidence that shows the property owner either knew about the condition that caused your accident and failed to take reasonable steps to prevent it or that they should have known about it.
Your injuries could be severe
Though many people think of “slip and fall” or “trip and fall” injuries as involving a broken ankle or a wrist sprain, you can sustain serious injuries. If you hit your head you can suffer a traumatic brain injury, such as a concussion. If you land on your side, you could break your ribs or puncture a lung. These are serious injuries that can have a long-term effect on you, and you could be out of work for months while you recover, which may have a huge impact on your financial stability. You may also require significant medical care to recover from those injuries, such as surgery, specialty doctors, physical therapy or other treatment. Some injuries may resolve in a few weeks or months, but some injuries may be permanent. Regardless of the severity of the injury, you should talk to a Virginia personal injury attorney to hear more about your specific case evaluation and potential claim for compensation.
How I help you with your Virginia slip and fall or trip and fall claim
After you’ve been injured in a slip and fall or trip and fall accident in Virginia, you need time to rest and recover. This can be difficult to do, however, when you have other worries and commitments, like work, family, school, housework, etc…. Worrying about being able to fulfill your commitments, pay your bills, make it to your medical appointments, and recover from your injuries is a lot on your plate. Your lawyer helps take off some that burden by doing the necessary work to protect your claim and ensure that you are properly compensated for your injuries and trauma.
That’s where I help you. I manage your claim and deal with insurance companies so you can focus on taking care of yourself and recovering. My role is to help you make the informed decisions to move your claim forward and help you obtain the best possible outcome.
I’ll work on your behalf to
Communicate with insurance companies and other parties related to your slip and fall accident
- Advise you on your legal rights and options so you can determine the best course of action
- Advocate for your right to fair compensation and proper medical treatment
- Protect you from missteps that could harm your case
- Collect evidence that strengthens your claim
- Explain any and all necessary concepts and procedures so you fully understand the process, your options, and possible outcomes
- Pursue a fair settlement or take your case to trial if necessary
- Fight against unreasonable or unfounded allegations made against you.
How we work together
After I receive your contact information, I’ll schedule a complimentary strategy session where I’ll ask you your fall accident and we’ll go over the facts of your case. Among the questions I’ll ask are what happened and when, whether any emergency responders were involved, whether you received medical treatment and where, whether a claim has been set up and what evidence you may have collected already related to your accident.
I’ll explain necessary concepts and ensure you understand your rights and the next steps available to you.
If we decide to work together, I’ll start building your claim. My fee is contingent on making a successful recovery in your case. This means you have the benefit of legal representation now without having to pay an upfront retainer, an hourly fee, or a monthly invoice.
The bottom line
It’s important for you to protect yourself following a slip and fall or trip and fall accident in Virginia. Insurance companies and defendants make the process stressful, because they will look for ways to derail your claim by arguing that you are responsible for what happened to you.
It’s in their best interests to argue that you’re negligent but they have to prove you were partially responsible. They will try to get you to make statements that they can later use against you, which is where a Virginia personal injury attorney can guide you about how to communicate with insurance companies and can even deal with insurance companies on your behalf.
The insurance company’s priority is to minimize or deny your claim entirely. My priority is to stop that from happening so you can focus on your priority–recovering from your accident.
Contact me to find out how I can help you with your Virginia slip and fall accident claim.
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