Edmonds Slip and Fall Lawyer
For many, it is very tempting to simply try to get back up and dust yourself off after a fall. You may brush it off as a pure accident and put the blame entirely on yourself. However, that blame may be misplaced.
When you trip or slip because of someone else’s carelessness, you may have a legal claim to help you deal with your losses from the fall, including medical expenses and lost time away from work. In fact, falls are one of the leading causes of accidental injuries in the United States. You need to speak with an Edmonds slip and fall lawyer to fully explore your rights after this type of accident.
Proving Your Slip and Fall Claim in Edmonds, Washington
Property owners are required to maintain their property in a way that is safe for both visitors and guests. When maintenance is inadequate or when there is a condition that is dangerous, the property owner or manager could be legally responsible for your slip and fall injuries. Some common examples include:
- Debris or wet floors in shopping centers
- Poor sidewalk maintenance
- Tears in carpeting or uneven flooring
- Unmarked dangerous conditions
- Failure to adequately clear property from ice and snow
However, just because a hazardous condition exists, does not automatically mean that the property owner will have to pay for your damage. Instead, you have to prove several things to have a successful slip and fall case in Washington.
- The owner owed you a duty of care. The property owner has a legal obligation to keep his or her property safe for customers and visitors. However, the owner doesn’t necessarily have to ensure that trespassers are safe on the property.
- That duty was violated. You must show that the property owner did not care for the premises as they should have. Failure to maintain or clean the property can breach the duty of care. If the property owner knows of a dangerous condition and does nothing about it (such as fix it or warn you about it), then that can also violate the duty of care.
- The violation caused the trip or slip and fall. There must be a direct connection between the property owner’s failure to keep up or maintain their property and the reason you fell. For example, if you fall because you tripped over your own feet, it will not matter that the property owner had not fixed a tear in the carpet that was a tripping hazard.
- Your fall caused damages. The last requirement of every slip and fall case is that you must have suffered some kind of damage as a result of the fall. This could be something as serious as a traumatic brain injury or as simple as some scrapes and bruises.
Gathering information and evidence is vital to prove these facts in your case. An Edmonds slip and fall lawyer can help you with this process.
Comparative Fault for Slip and Fall Claims in Washington
You may assume that, because you were not watching where you were going at the time of the fall, you do not have a legal claim. This may not necessarily be true. Instead, your fall may be partly your fault and partly the property owner’s error. When this happens, you still have an option to start a legal claim, but your damages may be reduced by your percentage of the blame.
Some of the most common defenses to a slip and fall claim cast blame on you. These might include things like:
- Failure to watch where you were going
- Ignoring warning signs or barriers
- Failing to see an otherwise obvious condition
- Wearing shoes that were not appropriate for the conditions
All of these arguments could decrease your damages, but they may not completely stomp out your claim. That is because Washington uses a system called “comparative fault.” That means that each person should bear their portion of the blame in a slip and fall case.
Consider an example. Imagine that you were walking along a sidewalk while texting a friend. You trip over an uneven surface where the sidewalk had broken. There are two general causes to this incident:
- You were not watching where you were going; and
- The property owner did not repair a cracked sidewalk when he knew it was broken and dangerous.
A jury will assign fault based on percentage. In this example, they might assign you 30% of the responsibility and the property owner 70% of the blame. For instance, if your damages are worth $10,000, then the most you can receive is $7,000, which would be 70% of the $10,000 total.
In this situation, an insurance company may try to convince you that your claim is worthless because you are partially to blame for the fall. Don’t let an insurance company trick you. You still have a legal claim even when you may have been partly at fault. Instead, use an Edmonds slip and fall lawyer to evaluate your potential share of the blame to determine how much your claim is really worth.
Starting Your Slip and Fall Claim in Washington
Similar to virtually every legal claim, slip and fall incidents have a time limit that you must follow to start your lawsuit. The statute of limitations for this type of claim is three years. However, if your case is against a public entity, your timeline might be much shorter.
If you try to start your case after this deadline, it will likely be dismissed. There are some exceptions to this general rule, but they are rare for this type of situation. It is best to speak with an Edmonds slip and fall lawyer as soon as you can after the incident. That way, your memory about what happened is fresh in your mind, and it is easier to gather evidence and witness statements.
Certa Law Group can help you evaluate your situation to determine what you should do next. If you are not sure whether you have a case, meeting with an experienced Edmonds slip and fall lawyer on our team is a great way to find out. Call today to schedule an appointment or to get more information. Consultations are free, and we welcome the opportunity to serve you.