Seattle Slip-and-Fall Injury Attorneys
Compensation for Trip-and-Fall Accidents
It is a frightening experience to have your feet suddenly slip out from under you, or to stumble over an unseen obstacle. Slip-and-fall accidents can lead to serious injuries, and innocent people suffer the consequences when property owners allow hazardous conditions to exist on their property. When a fall occurs, a large business will often have risk management claims adjusters or lawyers preparing a defense, right away.
If you tripped or slipped on someone else’s property and got hurt, you may be entitled to compensation. It is in your best interests to speak with an experienced Seattle fall injury lawyer as soon as you can. Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S., has been providing effective representation to injured people in Washington for more than 40 years. We can tell you what your options are under the law, and what damages you may be entitled to claim. Call (888) 228-3860 for a free consultation today.
Causes of Slip-and-Fall Accidents
Slip-and-falls occur when a person who is walking, running, or standing loses foot contact and reflexively attempts to balance, but the force of gravity pulls the body to the ground. Common causes of slip-and-fall accidents include:
- Hazardous floor conditions: Property owners or their maintenance staff may mop and wax floors, and fail to restrict the area while it’s drying, or fail to provide adequate warning. Excessive amounts of wax may have been applied to the floor, or the wax was applied unevenly. When one section of the floor is treated and another section is left untreated, the abrupt change in surface can cause falls. Failure to treat sloped walking surfaces with non-skid materials can also cause falls.
- Improperly maintained stairways: Stairs become worn with use and must be maintained to prevent slip-and-fall accidents. Steps that are rounded, steps that have been waxed or polished, steps that do not have non-skid surfaces or missing or broken handrails, or debris left in the stair area, can cause serious injuries.
- Weather conditions: Property owners cannot control the weather, but they do have a responsibility when snow and ice arrive to shovel sidewalks and use de-icing salt on steps and walkways. Municipalities also have a responsibility to plow the roads and clear public areas for safer walking. When property owners fail in these duties, there is potential for serious injuries in a winter-weather slip-and-fall accident.
Causes of Trip-and-Fall Accidents
Trip-and-falls usually occur when a foot strikes an object and the body's momentum throws the person off balance. Tripping can cause injuries as the body jerks or twists in an instinctive reaction to a sudden loss of equilibrium, even when a fall to the ground can be prevented. Some common causes of trip-and-fall accidents are:
- Electrical or phone cords stretched across a walking area
- Objects in the walkway
- Open drawers and cabinet doors
- Obstructed views
- Inadequate lighting
- Uneven stairs
- Broken or missing handrails on stairways
- Stair steps that are too shallow
- Carpets that are frayed or contain holes
- Raised sidewalks, pavers, and bricks
- Unexpected steps to a lower surface
When a property owner allowed tripping hazards to exist, and failed to provide adequate warning, injured victims may be entitled to claim compensation for all losses. If you or your loved one has suffered such an accident, your best course of action is to consult an experienced Seattle premises liability attorney as soon as possible.
Common Injuries in Fall Accidents
To quote the National Floor Safety Institute, "Falls aren't funny." Falls can cause serious injuries with life-altering consequences, or even death. Common injuries sustained in slip-and-falls include:
- Head injuries (traumatic brain injury): A mild concussion could resolve itself in a few weeks, but a serious traumatic brain injury can leave a person permanently disabled.
- Back and spinal cord injuries: Falls can cause serious and painful back injuries. Spinal cord injuries can result in varying degrees of paralysis and loss of sensation below the level of injury.
- Shoulder injuries: Brachial plexus injury and shoulder dislocation are common after a jolt to the shoulder in a fall.
- Hip fractures: These injuries require hospitalization and surgical intervention, and are especially dangerous for elderly adults.
- Fractures: Broken bones are common in the wrists and ankles when a person tries to break his or her fall.
- Sprains and strains: Sprains and strains of the soft tissue of the legs, ankles, arms, wrists, and hands are common when a person lands hard in a fall.
Washington Property Owners' Responsibility for Falls
Under Washington law, a property owner's liability for a fall depends in part on the status of the person who was injured. If the injured person was trespassing, the owner's only legal duty is to avoid willfully or wantonly injuring that person. It is an entirely different matter when the victim was an invited guest or on the property with permission, an "invitee" – a customer or client on a property for business purposes. In that case, the property owner has a legal duty to maintain the property in a reasonably safe condition. Property owners can be held liable for slips or trips if that owner:
- Knew of or should have known of the hazard on the property;
- Expected that individuals on the property would be unaware of the danger or fail to protect themselves; and
- Failed to exercise ordinary care to protect the injured party from the danger.
Owners and occupiers are required under state law to regularly inspect their premises for hazards and make whatever repairs, safeguards, or warnings are needed to protect individuals on the property. Even if someone other than the property owner caused the unsafe condition, the law still holds an owner who had knowledge (or should have had knowledge) of the condition liable for injuries sustained. For example, if a landlord knew his tenant was leaving debris in the stairwell, but did nothing to have it cleared to prevent a fall, he would be just as liable.
Damages in Washington Fall Accidents
Washington is a comparative negligence state. If the jury determines you were partly at fault for your injuries, the damages you are awarded will be reduced by the percentage of fault they assign to you. If your case is settled out of court, the insurance adjuster is likely to bring up comparative fault in the negotiation process. Our seasoned trip-and-fall accident lawyers can investigate to obtain evidence that establishes the property owner is at fault, and fully responsible for your injuries.
There are no damage caps on personal injury compensation in our state. The Washington Supreme Court has ruled that placing statutory limits on non-economic damages violates citizens' constitutional rights to a trial by jury. What this means is that there are no limits on how much can be awarded to a plaintiff in a lawsuit for non-economic damages, such as mental and physical pain and suffering.
Damages you may be entitled to after a fall injury claim may include:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Lost earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Disability or disfigurement
- Mental anguish
- Emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of society and companionship
- Loss of consortium (marital relations)
Contact Our Washington Slip-and-Fall Accident Lawyers for a Free Consultation
Don't wait to speak with a personal injury lawyer if you have been hurt in a slip-and-fall. Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S., is dedicated to serving Seattle residents and visitors who have suffered serious injury. Contact us for a free case consultation. We have the experience, skills, and dedication to aggressively pursue full compensation after an unexpected fall. We can be reached at (888) 228-3860.
Call us for a free consultation(888) 228-3860
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