This post addresses the most common causes of slips, trips and falls in the context of a North Carolina Personal injury case.
The Bishop Law Firm represents slip, trip and fall accident victims in North Carolina, and we do not get paid unless you win your case. Give us a call at (919) 615-3095 or start your free case review now.
North Carolina Slips, Trips & Falls – How do they happen?
Slips, trips, and falls can occur in any environment, on any surface, and under a multitude of circumstances. Most commonly, slips occur when floors or other walking surfaces become slick (slippery) due to wet or oily substances.
Trip and fall accidents occur most frequently where a floor or walking surface is uneven. For example, an injured person can fall into holes, stumble over depressions in the ground, or trip down uneven stairs.
A floor or walking surface can become dangerous ground for a slip, trip or fall through the negligence of another person or the property owner. If the slip occurs in a grocery store aisle because of an oily substance left on the floor, it is likely that an employee for the grocery store failed to clean up the spill promptly.
If a person falls in a hole while walking in the park, it is likely that the park maintenance failed to properly post warnings to alert the victim of the hole’s presence.
Unfortunately, parking lots, grocery and retail stores, and areas with poor lighting are common locations for slip and fall accidents that can result in serious injuries.
Please take photographs of the area around your slip and fall accident, specifically what you fell on and how it caused you to fall. Report the fall to management or to the property owner immediately if possible.
If you leave the scene of a slip and fall incident without informing the property owners of your serious injuries, you will have a tough time proving a slip and fall case later.
However, slips, trips and falls can occur because of the negligence of the injured party. If a person is staring at their cell phone and stumbles over a blatant object in their path, this person will not be able to recover on their fall case due to contributory negligence.
If a person is running in a store, ignores a “wet floor” sign, and subsequently slips, that person will not be able to be compensated because they also contributed to their own injury.
According to the National Floor Safety Institute , fall accidents account for over 8 million hospital emergency room visits and slips account for over 1 million emergency room visits. In fact, one out of five falls cause serious injury such as broken bones, and are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries.
In addition to head injuries, slip and fall accidents can result in hip fractures, broken limbs, and even fatal injuries. If you have sustained a slip and fall injury on someone else’s property, seek medical attention immediately.
If you wait to receive medical attention, you will have a harder time proving that the unsafe property conditions caused your injury.
In addition to physical injuries, a slip, trip or fall can cause the injury victims to become afraid of falling – resulting in a reluctance to participate in daily activities and isolation from important social networks.
Finally, it is estimated that slip, trip and fall injuries result in an average of 11 days away from work.
North Carolina Personal Injury Law
Have you been injured because of a North Carolina slip, trip, or fall that was not your fault? If the property owner failed to make you (the lawful visitor) aware of the dangerous condition and that unsafe condition (negligence) was the cause of your fall injury, you may have a personal injury case (premises liability claim).
This means that if you get injured by the negligence of someone else, but your own negligence contributed to your injury, it is a total bar to recovery.
However, North Carolina law also has the Last Clear Chance Doctrine which says even if your own negligence contributed to your injury, if the other party had the last clear chance of avoiding the accident, then you can still recover.
The Last Clear Chance Doctrine may help in small minority of cases, but generally, the law of contributory negligence creates a harsh result for injury victims and that is why most other states do not use contributory negligence laws, but rather are comparative negligence jurisdictions.
If you are injured through no fault of your own, you may be able to recover your medical expenses , lost wages, and for the pain & suffering you have endured as a result of the accident and/or your physical injuries.
Unfortunately, there are other circumstances (even when an injured victim did nothing to contribute to their injury) when a victim cannot recover for their injury: when the at-fault party cannot be located; the owner of the premises does not have insurance coverage or assets to reimburse the victim or in certain injuries that occur on government owned property (governmental immunity).
However, a victim should never take the insurance company’s denial as the law. The circumstances of a slip and fall accident must be examined to determine if a victim can recover compensation.
In order to be compensated, a victim needs medical evidence and more: medical treatment with medical bills, verification of lost wages from their employer, photos, etc. In slip and fall cases, photographs and videos can illustrate to the adjuster (or the jury) how the unsafe condition caused your injury.
However, if you fell and were hurt at work, you may have a NC Workers’ Compensation case instead of a NC Personal Injury case. Worker’s Compensation cases are governed by the North Carolina Industrial Commission (NCIC). If you were hurt at work read NC Workers’ Compensation Benefits.
Overview of a NC Personal Injury Case
Your personal injury case can be settled at any stage of the process up to verdict. Some cases are settled during the claim stage while other claims have to go all the way to trial for resolution.
Injury Stage –
After you sustain an injury from a slip and fall accident, take photographs of the scene if you can or have a friend do it.
Report the accident to the property owner (if possible) before seeking medical treatment.
Seek immediate medical treatment. Inform the medical provider about what happened to you and follow all of their medical advice. Take photos of your injuries as soon as possible after the slip and fall and then as you are healing. Read NC Personal Injury Medical Bills More Than Settlement
After informing the property owner of your injury, they should provide you with their insurance information. If not, you will have to reach out to them to get that information so you can file a slip and fall claim with their insurance.
Do not be surprised if the insurance adjuster wants a recorded statement, or if you get push back from the adjuster. Unfortunately, insurance companies rarely want to pay claims. Read Recorded Statements
If you are finished with treatment, you should gather all medical bills, medical records, proof of lost wages, photographs of your injuries and the scene, etc. and send a demand package to the adjuster. If the adjuster makes you a fair offer, you are done with your claim. Unfortunately, it is rarely that simple. Read
A North Carolina Slip and Fall claim can be difficult to win. The insurance company may deny the property owner’s negligence in maintaining their property or that you as the visitor were negligent in not seeing and avoiding the “obvious” danger.
In addition, it can be difficult to find out who the insurance carrier is or who the property owners are without filing a slip and fall lawsuit (premise liability).
A North Carolina slip and fall lawyer can help you understand, pursue, and maximize the compensation you may be entitled to receive from a premises liability case.
The Bishop Law Firm provides free case reviews for individuals who have sustained physical, mental, financial, and/or emotional injuries as a result of North Carolina slips, trips, and falls.