Most people have suffered an embarrassing fall when out in public. However, severe falls or trips can cause serious injuries, including fractures, soft tissue damage, and concussions.
If you have been injured in a fall on someone else’s property, negligence may have contributed to the condition that caused your accident. In that case, you could seek monetary damages from the negligent parties.
An experienced personal injury attorney could help you figure out how to proceed based on your unique circumstances. You have only two years from the date of your injury to file a lawsuit, so do not hesitate to speak with a Bucks County slip and fall lawyer.
Common Injuries in Falling Accidents
There is a common misperception among many people that injuries resulting from falls are often minor. However, falls are responsible for many devastating injuries to people of all ages.
When an older person fractures a hip as a result of a fall, healing could take months, or it might permanently compromise the injured person’s health. In younger people, falls are among the leading causes of traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and spinal cord injuries in the United States. Other injuries that frequently result from falls include:
- Fractures of limbs, joints, and the clavicle
- Shoulder, elbow, and knee dislocations
- Damage to tendons and ligaments
- Cuts, bruises, and abrasions
- Sprains and strains
Any of these injuries could severely limit a person’s activities for a period of time. When negligence caused a condition that led to the fall, the negligent party should be held accountable. A capable Bucks County attorney could identify instances of negligence and seek damages from the responsible party on behalf of the person injured by the falling accident.
Recoverable Damages After a Severe Fall
Monetary damages compensate injured people for the financial and human losses they suffered due to their injury. An award of damages could include payment for medical expenses the injured person already had to pay, as well as medical treatment that might be necessary in the future to treat the injury.
If the injured person was employed at the time of the fall and had to miss work because of their injury, a damages award could reimburse the value of lost wages and used employment benefits like sick leave. If the injury will prevent the person from resuming their former job, damages also might include lost earnings opportunities.
The emotional trauma and impact of lifestyle changes also could be compensable through damages. These non-economic damages could include sums for pain and suffering, embarrassment and humiliation, disfigurement, and inability to engage in activities that the injured person previously enjoyed.
Unlike many states, the Commonwealth does not limit the amount of non-economic damages a jury could award to a plaintiff. A compassionate injury attorney in Bucks County could support an award of non-economic damages by presenting evidence that the slip and fall injury caused a decrease in a plaintiff’s quality of life.
Why Does the Type of Visitor Matter in Trip and Fall Cases?
Trip and fall accidents that result in personal injuries often fall under premises liability law. This body of law holds that owners of property, both commercial and private, have an obligation to keep it in reasonably safe condition. However, the extent of the duty the occupier owes to a visitor depends on the reason the person was on the property. In order to recover compensation in Bucks County, an attorney must show the property owner breached an owed duty to the claimant resulting in them slipping and falling.
A person who is on property that is open to the public or visiting a business as a customer or potential customer is called an invitee. The property owners owe invitees the highest duty of care. They must keep their property free of hazards and inspect the property to ensure that dangerous conditions do not develop. They must repair any issues, such as a spilled drink or slippery surface, within a reasonable time, and must warn invitees of any existing dangers, such as a wet floor warning sign.
A social guest is a licensee. Licensees have permission to be on the property but are not there to transact business. Property owners must warn licensees of any unreasonably dangerous conditions they know about that the licensee is unlikely to anticipate, but the occupiers have no duty to inspect for unknown hazards.
A property has no duty to keep property safe for adult trespassers, but they may not intentionally or willfully cause them harm. A property owner has an obligation to either keep premises free of conditions that might lure children into dangerous situations or prevent them from entering.
Proving Negligence in Slip and Fall Cases
Proving negligence requires the plaintiff to demonstrate that they were owed a duty of care, the defendant violated this duty, the breach caused an accident, and serious injuries resulted. The extent of the duty and whether the defendant breached the duty will depend on the plaintiff’s visitor status. Establishing causation requires the local attorney to link the injury to the fall, and that actual compensable losses were suffered as a result.
However, there could be some potential barriers to recovery, due to 42 Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes §7102 which establishes comparative negligence. Under this rule, if a plaintiff negligently contributes to their injuries, they may still collect damages so long as they hold less than 50 percent of the responsibility. Additionally, any award of damages will be reduced by a percentage equal to the claimant’s degree of fault.
What Happens if a Fall Occurs on Government Property?
When a fall happens on government property or because of the negligence of a public employee, a plaintiff might have a claim against the Commonwealth or local government. In that case, it is crucial to immediately seek the advice of a seasoned trip and fall lawyer in the area to preserve the right to seek damages.
Pennsylvania law requires anyone asserting a claim against the Commonwealth or a local government to submit a notice of claim within six months of the incident that caused the injury. Failure to submit the notice on time will permanently bar a court from hearing the claim.
Seek Advice from a Bucks County Slip and Fall Attorney
If you have suffered injuries in a serious falling accident, do not try to handle your case alone. The premises liability laws are complicated and holding insurance companies and property owners accountable can be difficult without experienced legal guidance.
Contact a Bucks County slip and fall lawyer after an accident to find out whether you have grounds to seek legal damages. Your initial consultation is always free, call today.