While four out of five slip and fall accidents in Phoenix, AZ and the rest of the country do not result in serious harm, the one that does can produce serious injuries that may require emergency treatment and can even be life threatening.
Every year in the United States, about $50 billion is spent on treating slip and fall accident injuries; more than 800,000 victims of slip and fall accidents require a trip to the hospital, where the average cost of treatment is about $30,000.
If you have suffered a slip and fall injury from an accident in Phoenix, Maricopa County, or anywhere in the state of Arizona, then call us at Stone Rose Law, (480) 498-8998, to speak with one of our slip and fall personal injury lawyers in a free initial consultation.
To start, here are some sobering facts about slip and fall accidents in Arizona:
Slip-and-fall injuries are a case of “truth in advertising” plus a little more. Many fall accidents result from people losing their footing on a slippery surface. Anything that makes the ground or the floor beneath you wet, oily, greasy, or icy can act as a lubricant between your feet and what you are standing on, making your footing unsteady.
Spilled liquids are a frequent cause of slip and fall accidents, but they can also be caused by stepping on an object, too. The allegorical story of a customer stepping on a grape on the floor in a grocery store, crushing it and slipping on it, is a classic example of how this can happen.
The “little more” we refer to above accounts for trip and fall accidents, which are closely related to slip and fall accidents in their effects. Sources of trip and fall accidents include objects, cords, uneven surfaces, and cracks or holes in those surfaces.
Injuries from slip and fall and trip-and-fall accidents come from the uncontrolled landing on the floor or the ground after losing your balance. Here are some of the fall injuries that we often see with our clients at Stone Rose Law in our Phoenix offices:
When you fall after slipping or tripping, instinctively you will reach out with one or both arms to soften your landing. Many times, however, this effort will be only partly successful and can lead to further injury if you land on your arm in such a way to dislocate or otherwise hurt your hand, wrist, elbow, shoulder, or arm in general. You could suffer soft tissue injury in the form of sprained, strained, or torn tendons, ligaments, or muscles.
In more severe cases, landing hard on an extended arm can cause one or more bones in it to fracture.
Your leg is another of your limbs that can be injured in an uncontrolled fall from a slip or trip accident. For example, you can twist an ankle, causing a strain, sprain, or tear in a tendon, ligament or muscle. Or you can experience contusion injuries, cartilage damage, or broken bones in one or both knees if you land on them hard. You can also fracture bones in other parts of your leg.
Even if you are able to extend an arm to soften your landing when falling, if you land hard on your pelvic region you could suffer from a broken hip bone. Broken hip bones become more of a possibility as you get older, with elderly fall victims being especially susceptible to pelvic bone breakage. More than 90 percent of hip bone fractures are the result of slip or trip-caused falls.
The sudden, uncontrolled nature of a fall from a trip or slip can easily cause you to twist your back and neck muscles and to put unnatural force and stress on your spinal cord, leading to spine and neck injuries.
Possibly the worst thing that can happen from a slip and fall or trip and fall is to strike your head on the ground or against an object when you are falling. Unfortunately, this happens frequently. Falls are the leading cause of traumatic brain injuries, and traumatic brain injuries cause almost half of all fatal fall injuries in Arizona.
Arizona’s statute of limitations law gives you two years to file a lawsuit for a slip and fall claim. This time period usually begins on the day of the accident, but in some situations where your injury symptoms do not manifest until later, the two-year period can start on the day you discover your injury.
Another exception to the general rule that the statute of limitations two-year limit starts on the day of the accident is if a relative of yours dies because of a slip and fall accident. In this case, the two-year period within which to file a lawsuit for wrongful death begins on the day the accident victim died.
If you experience a slip and fall accident and injury that is at least partly the fault of someone else, then you may have a legal claim against that other person for your injuries.
Proving a slip and fall case in Arizona is the same as proving any other personal injury claim. You will need to show all of the following elements are true:
The key element to prove in a slip and fall claim is to establish that the property owner owed you a duty of care.
Owners of real property in Arizona owe a duty of care to people who are authorized to be on their property. The first thing to understand, then, is under Arizona law who the person is that you can make a slip and fall claim against. In Arizona, this can be the person who actually owns the property or who is in actual control over it if that person is not the title owner of the property.
Once we know who the owner or controller of the property is, the next thing to determine is who is permitted to be on the owner’s property. Arizona law recognizes three different kinds of people who can be on the property of another:
An invitee is a person who is on the property of another for business purposes. Visitors to retail stores, commercial office buildings, or other business locations are examples of invitees.
Property owners in Arizona owe a duty of reasonable care to licensees to maintain the business premises in a reasonably safe condition.
Special considerations for invitees include:
Licensees are people who are on the property of another with permission, but not for a business purpose. A social guest you invite to your home is an example of a licensee. Arizona property owners must warn licensees of dangerous conditions on the property that create an unreasonable risk of harm, provided that the owner is aware of the dangerous condition and the licensee is unlikely to discover it independently.
A trespasser is a person who is on the property of another without permission. The general rule in Arizona is that property owners do not owe a duty of care to trespassers.
Two exceptions to the general above exist:
Historically, if you experienced a slip and fall accident on public property, such as in a government office building or a public park, Arizona law did not allow you to sue the responsible government entity for your injuries.
That has changed, however, in a limited range of slip and fall incidents on public property. Still, suing the government for a slip and fall injury has some differences compared to suing a private individual or company. In Arizona, you have only 180 days to notify the government owner of the property where the injury happened of your intent to file a claim, including a letter of intent to sue.
If you need to make a slip and fall claim against a public entity in Arizona, a personal injury slip and fall attorney can help you to understand the specific requirements you will need to observe to preserve and pursue your legal rights.
The usual measure of recovery for personal injury in Arizona is money damages. What this means is that the harm you suffered because of the slip and fall accident will be converted into a dollar value in settlement negotiations or – if you prevail in court – a judgment award.
Under Arizona law, a property owner is potentially liable for your injuries to include direct costs like current and future medical bills, lost wages, and rehabilitation costs, plus indirect damages for non-economic harm you experienced like emotional distress. If you had personal property that was damaged or destroyed because of the slip and fall event, the cost to repair or replace that property is recoverable.
Owner liability can also include your costs of pursuing legal action, like court costs and attorney fees.
A wrongful death action can arise from a slip and fall injury if you are the surviving spouse, child, parent, guardian, or representative of the person who died.
The kinds of direct damages you can seek in a wrongful death lawsuit against a property owner include funeral and burial expenses, medical bills for the decedent’s treatment before dying, the value of lost wages and benefits the decedent would have earned, and repair and replacement costs for property of the decedent that was damaged in the accident.
Indirect damages you can seek in a wrongful death action include amounts to compensate you for the loss of the decedent’s love, affection, comfort, companionship, and guidance, or the loss of household services that person provided, and amounts for your emotional pain and suffering.
An important consideration under Arizona law to remember about personal injury lawsuits for slip and fall accidents is that they are subject to this state’s comparative negligence law.
In Arizona, comparative negligence means that if both the plaintiff and the defendant in a personal injury lawsuit were negligent in contributing to the accident, then the court will reduce the plaintiff’s recovery in proportion to the percentage of the plaintiff’s own fault.
It is common in slip and fall cases for property owners to raise affirmative defenses to their own negligence, and these will include arguments that you were negligent, too. Property owner defenses we often see when representing slip and fall clients include:
As an example, let’s say that when visiting a store you slip and fall, but the store owner successfully argues that part of the reason why you fell was because you ran past a slip hazard sign that you should have seen. If the court decides that you were 20 percent at fault as a result, then your damages recovery will be reduced to 80 percent of the initial award amount.
Personal injury lawsuits, including those for slip and fall accidents, can be challenging to pursue. This is in part because the vast majority of personal injury disputes never go to court, but settle instead. Often, this will mean having to deal with an insurance company, and its lawyers.
Therefore, as much as it is important for your Phoenix personal injury lawyer to perform proficiently at trial, it is important for that person to be a good negotiator, too. Because chances are this skill is what will get you the compensation you need, and deserve, in settlement of your claims.
When you hire one of our Phoenix slip and fall injury attorneys at Stone Rose Law, your lawyer will help you to negotiate with insurance companies and their attorneys from the strongest possible position. We will help you to gather the evidence you need to support your claims, including your medical bills, costs for rehabilitation, lost wages, property loss values, and more.
It is unfortunate but true in personal injury settlements, “You don’t get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate.” If you must negotiate settlement for a slip and fall accident injury with an automobile or homeowners or business insurance company, know in advance that you will be up against an experienced, savvy, and tough negotiator. The insurance company and its attorneys have one goal in dealing with you: minimize how much you cost them in settlement payout.
You getting what you are truly entitled to is up to you, not them.
This is why, if you have recently experienced a slip or a trip that resulted in you being hurt by the fall, we urge you to call us right away. The sooner you have an experienced, knowledgeable, and tenacious negotiator on your side, the better for you.
We will handle all aspects of your settlement, including communicating with the other side’s insurance adjusters and lawyers, who might otherwise be eager to talk to you so they can persuade you to accept a low-ball settlement offer or try to get you to say things to them that can decrease your case settlement value.
And if for any reason we cannot obtain for you through negotiations what you need to recover as fully as possible for your injury, our Phoenix personal injury lawyers are all experienced personal injury litigators, too. If you must seek your slip and fall injury compensation through a lawsuit or another means like arbitration, we will aggressively pursue all legal remedies you are entitled to, on a contingency fee basis.
If we have to take your case to trial, we only get paid if you win.
Remember: depending on where your slip and fall injury happened in Arizona, you could have as little as 180 days to act if you want to keep your right to make a legal claim. Time is critical.
Call us today, (480), 498-8998, to talk with one of our experienced personal injury injury attorneys. Our offices are in Phoenix, but we can help you no matter where you may be in Maricopa County or anywhere else in Arizona.
Do you prefer to communicate online? You can reach out to us here to ask a question about your accident, or to set up a free initial consultation with a quality Phoenix personal injury plaintiff’s attorney.