I Slipped and Fell on Someone Else’s Property, Do I Have a Personal Injury Claim?

Accidental falls are one of the leading causes of injury in the United States, resulting in millions of hospitalizations each year.  If you suffered an injury due to a slip and fall accident on another person’s property, or a commercial property belonging to a business, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical bills, the earnings you lost, and other expenses resulting from your accident.  However, it depends on the circumstances that caused your fall to occur.  This article explains some of the core elements that are necessary to establish liability, or fault, for an accidental fall in Utah.

Proving Fault: What Are the Four Elements of Negligence?

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In a Utah personal injury claim, the injury victim has the “burden of proof,” meaning he or she is responsible for demonstrating certain facts about the accident that occurred.  In order to be compensated, a fall victim must be able to prove that the following facts were true of the accident:

  1. The property owner breached their duty of care.  In slip and fall cases, a breach of duty generally involves failure to adequately maintain the building, parking lot, parking garage, and so forth.  Some common examples include:
  2. The property owner had a duty of care to the victim.  Generally speaking, property owners must ensure their properties are free of any hazards or defects that could foreseeably injure or kill somebody.  Known property hazards must be repaired, or at least safely isolated, within a reasonable period of time.
    • Failure to install adequate lighting in dim areas like stairwells.
    • Failure to keep cords and cables neatly secured so that they don’t present a trip hazard.
    • Failure to promptly repair any known breaks or defects, such as a broken step or sagging floorboard.
    • Failure to clean spills and leaks.
  3. The property owner’s actions (or lack thereof) caused a preventable slip and fall accident.  For example, the property owner’s failure to provide adequate maintenance caused a cracked floor tile to go unrepaired, eventually causing a fall that would have been avoidable with timely maintenance.
  4. The victim was actually harmed as a result of the fall.  Even if all the preceding facts are true, there must be actual harm in order for the victim to have a viable claim or lawsuit.  An example of harm would be the medical bills resulting from a broken wrist.

If the victim can prove that all four of these elements were true of their accident, they may be able to recover damages (compensation) for various injury-related expenses, such as hospital bills, surgery bills, and medical equipment.  Subjective, non-economic (non-financial) damages, such as the pain and suffering caused by the accident, are also recoverable.

Were You a Victim of These Common Injuries Caused by Slip and Fall Accidents?

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An accidental slip may seem like a minor event compared to something like a car accident or truck accident, but the truth is that accidental falls are capable of inflicting devastating, sometimes disabling or fatal injuries.

This is especially true within the “older adult” demographic, which the CDC defines to mean anyone aged 65 or above.  Among older adults alone, unintentional falls are responsible for roughly 2.5 million annual E.R. visits, practically all reported hip fractures (more than 95%), and more cases of traumatic brain injury (TBI) than any other type of event, including automotive accidents and acts of violence.

Yet it isn’t only elderly individuals who are at risk of being seriously harmed by slip and fall accident.  Regardless of a victim’s age, the following injuries are, unfortunately, common outcomes of accidental falls:

  • Broken Bones — Fractured wrists and fingers are especially common, as victims will usually extend their arms in a reflexive attempt to break the fall.
  • Facial Injuries — Broken noses, split lips, fractured cheekbones, and chipped or broken teeth can easily occur if the victim is unable to shield their face from the impact of the fall.  In addition to being highly painful, these types of injuries can necessitate expensive dental work or plastic surgery.
  • Spinal Cord Injuries (SCI) — If a victim strikes their back, or the back of the neck (which houses the cervical portion of the spine), the fall can cause damage to the spinal cord, a long bundle of nerves that transmits messages between the brain and body.  A serious spinal cord injury can result in permanent paralysis, potentially ending the victim’s career and changing every aspect of their life forever.

Let a Lawyer in Salt Lake City Handle Your Case

If you or one of your loved ones was injured after falling on someone else’s property in Utah, a personal injury attorney may be able to help you determine what your slip and fall case is worth.  Call Utah accident injury lawyer Darwin Overson at (801) 895-3143 to set up a free legal consultation.  Darwin is available around the clock, and will always keep your information confidential.

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