It can happen in a minute; one moment you're walking down a Bronx sidewalk in front of your building, and the next, you're flat on your back. Perhaps you've slipped and fallen on the ice; the resulting injuries could render you unable to work for a while and cause medical bills to pile up.
Property owners, though, are responsible for the safety of their premises, including sidewalks, parking lots, and other areas directly proximate to buildings. In your case, the landlord should have removed the ice.
If you're injured in a slip and fall accident on any type of premises—rental property, store, hotel, mall, sidewalk, parking lot, restaurant, private home, theater, amusement park, or somewhere else—it's prudent to consult an attorney. The experienced Bronx slip and fall attorneys at Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA can evaluate your case and determine your eligibility to file a claim.
Our results speak for themselves. In one case, a client was injured in a restaurant's parking lot because improper maintenance resulted in a trip and fall. Our client received a $300,000 settlement; although, the restaurant initially denied responsibility. In another case, a client injured a shoulder in a slip and fall. The insurance company initially offered a $35,000 payment on the claim, but we secured the client $82,000.
All results, of course, depend on the facts of your case and the nature and extent of your injuries. We can promise you this, however: we will work hard to maximize your compensation.
What Is a Slip and Fall Accident?
Slip and fall accidents fall under the umbrella of premises liability law. Simply put, premises liability holds that property owners need to make sure that their properties are safe for the public (if open to the public), such as stores and hotels. If a property is not open to the public (like a private home), private property owners must at least make sure that their properties are safe for people they've invited over.
Slip and falls (often called trip and falls) receive a special designation due to their high frequency.
What does safe mean in a slip and fall case? It means that any immediately dangerous circumstances should undergo prompt repair. Let's say you live in a rented apartment, and the light over the communal stairs burns out. The landlord must ensure prompt replacement of the light, because tenants' inability to see while going down the stairs is dangerous and could lead to a trip and fall accident.
Safe also means that property owners must regularly survey their properties for any potentially dangerous conditions. Store owners, for instance, need to regularly maintain their stores. If something occurs that may pose a danger, such as a beverage spill in the aisle, it should be promptly cleaned up.
If the repair or maintenance will take some time, property owners need to warn the public, with safety tape, notices, and/or cones that make the hazard abundantly clear to visitors.
If property owners are not on the premises, the owners must train their managers and staff on the need for safety and the importance of fixing hazards as quickly as possible. Not only that, but owners can't claim that they didn't know about a potentially dangerous situation. The law holds that a situation is unsafe if a reasonably prudent person would have known, and reasonably prudent people know that spilled liquid can cause someone to slip and fall.
Failure to regularly inspect, repair, and maintain a property, as well as failure to rectify situations that cause danger of a slip and fall, is a breach of the duty of care owed to the public. A breach of the duty of care constitutes negligence. Negligent property owners are financially liable for the injuries and other harm that a slip and fall causes.
The following situations are common causes of slip and fall accidents:
- Broken or uneven sidewalks or pavement
- Snow or ice on a sidewalk or walkway that is not cleared within a reasonable amount of time
- Recently mopped or waxed floors
- Food, liquid, or debris on the floor
- Broken stairs, poorly designed staircases, inadequately lit stairwells
- Improperly designed or non-functioning escalators or elevators
- Open cords stretching across walkways
- Boxes, merchandise, or other items in publicly accessible areas
- Loose carpeting or floorboards
- Parking lot potholes
Common Slip and Fall Injuries in the Bronx
Slip and fall accidents vary in their severity and effects. A simple slip on a store's linoleum floor could result in bruises, but a tumble down an improperly maintained flight of stairs can cause traumatic brain injury (TBI) or spinal cord injury (SCI), which are two of the most potentially serious injuries that the human body can sustain.
Common slip and fall injuries include:
- Fractured bones
- Internal injuries
- Scarring and disfigurement (if slipping and falling on glass or from a height)
Obtaining Compensation for Injuries Sustained in a Bronx Slip and Fall Accident
Fortunately, individuals injured through the actions (or inactions) of another party in New York have legal recourse. Injured individuals may qualify to seek damage compensation from at-fault parties.
To seek damage compensation, all of the following must be true:
- A property owner owed you a duty of care.
- The property owner breached that duty of care, causing an unsafe condition or a lack of notice of unsafe conditions.
- Your injuries stem directly from the slip and fall accident.
In New York, slip and fall victims may seek these damages:
- Medical bills: For emergency treatment and transport, doctor's visits, diagnostic tests, surgery, hospitalization, prescription medication, assistive devices (crutches, canes, walkers), physical therapy, and more.
- Income lost from work: If the accident, treatment, or recovery necessitate the victim taking time from work.
- Pain and suffering: For physical, mental, and emotional pain and suffering.
Victims can either approach a property owner's insurance company or bring a Bronx slip and fall lawsuit in court.
What Should I Do if I Slip and Fall in the Bronx?
The first priority after a slip and fall accident is to evaluate your injuries. After all, if you cut yourself on glass slipping in a Bronx grocery store, for example, the bleeding needs to stop immediately. Severe cuts can threaten your life.
Obtain evidence that shows why you slipped and fell. Why? Because obtaining damage compensation requires the presentation of strong evidence that supports your claim. Without evidence, property owners can (and believe us, they do) allege that you contributed to the accident and thus are liable for your own injuries. Defendants in Bronx slip and fall cases employ this strategy every day, but evidence can refute such claims.
To both safeguard your life and health and gather evidence, we discuss below what to do after a slip and fall accident.
If you're severely injured, call 911. If you fall flat on your back on an icy sidewalk and can't move, for example, call 911. The call will bring an ambulance that will transport you to an emergency department at the nearest hospital.
Serious injuries reported to 911 may also cause police officers to report to the accident scene. If police officers arrive, tell them what occurred, as they may file an incident report. If so, get a copy of this report and keep it. Remember, if unsafe conditions exist, it is good for the public to know, and informing law enforcement of the issue is the first step toward correcting the situation.
If you're not severely injured, you still need to see a doctor as soon as possible. Don't just go home and see to your injuries yourself. Many injuries don't show symptoms for a while. The most severe symptoms of serious injuries may not even present for a few hours, days, or even weeks after the accident. You may think you sprained your ankle, but an X-ray could indicate that it's actually broken. Medical professionals can diagnose and treat you properly.
Before you visit a doctor, you should take the following steps. First, take pictures of the area where your slip and fall occurred if you have a smartphone with you. Your goal with these photos is to show the unsafe condition. If it's spilled liquid or obstacles, take pictures. If it's broken pavement, take pictures. Take plenty of pictures, as they are among the best forms of evidence.
Second, get the contact information for any eyewitnesses. Eyewitnesses are also valuable sources of evidence. Talk to the eyewitnesses about what they saw. Take notes.
Third, alert the premises manager of your slip and fall and the conditions that caused it, if it occurred in an establishment open to the public. (If it occurred in a private home, let the homeowner know.) Your goal here is two-fold. Primarily, you want the manager to know about the condition so that management will fix the problem and prevent future slip and falls. Secondarily, though, an insurance company or jury may question why management wasn't alerted if you don't talk to a manager or the property owner.
One caution about alerting management: in some instances, management and staff may receive instructions from the owners to have injured people talk to a staff doctor or other specific medical personnel. Primarily, this happens in hotels or other large places open to the public. While this may sound great, and is often presented as a service just to help you, rest assured that it is not as advantageous as seeing your own doctor. Staff doctors are generally paid by the property owner. Thus, they are incentivized to minimize any injury—or even to blame you, rather than the hotel or store.
All you owe management is a notice that you were injured and why. After alerting management, you are free to leave. Don't sign anything or say any that may indicate you're accepting responsibility for the slip and fall, no matter how it occurred. Once you leave, go to an emergency room or see your own doctor. Describe the slip and fall and have a thorough medical evaluation.
Keep all records of your visits, your diagnostic tests, and the ultimate diagnosis of any injury or harm. Keep all treatment records, as they may serve as important evidence down the road. Finally, follow all of your doctor's recommendations.
Dealing With Insurance Companies After a Bronx Slip and Fall Accident
In an ideal world, insurance companies would show compassion and concern toward injured victims. After all, insurance companies exist so that people don't have to pay for medical bills out of their own pockets, right?
Unfortunately, we don't live in an ideal world, whether it's the Bronx or anyplace else. Insurance companies care primarily about their profits and profit margins, just like other businesses. Insurance companies may, in fact, view insurance claim payout as threatening to their profits and their profit margins. These companies have one goal: minimize that threat and maximize profits.
To that end, insurance companies deploy all kinds of strategies to make sure that they either don't pay victims or pay them minimum amounts. One of the most common strategies is to settle relatively quickly, but for a minimal amount—often far less than a fair payout. Insurance companies know that a slip and fall's medical bills can start to mount quickly, and victims may feel stress and anxiety.
Quickly paid claims can feel great—until victims realize how low the amount is versus the cost of their injuries and other harm. Another common strategy employed by insurance companies involves blaming victims for their injuries. Insurance companies often become creative in their methods of saying that you, not their insured, bear responsibility for your accident.
Insurance companies may claim that the accident occurred in a completely different manner than it really did. One of their favorites is to claim that, if you didn't go to a doctor, you clearly didn't suffer the injuries that you're claiming. Insurance adjusters may argue that if you didn't follow your doctor's orders—by having surgery, attending physical therapy, or filling a prescription—you clearly weren't injured as badly as you claim.
A third strategy? Just ignore you. Insurance companies want you to go away, so they may simply act as if you have. They may stop returning your calls and e-mails and fail to ever resolve your claim. They may ask for more information, and then sit on it and fail to act. An experienced attorney understands these common defensive strategies and knows how to combat them.
Bronx Slip and Fall FAQs
If you were injured in a slip and fall accident, whether in the Bronx or somewhere else in New York, you likely have many questions. Below we provide answers to some of the most frequently asked questions (FAQs) that we hear from our clients; read on for more information.
How should I pay my medical bills? They're really piling up.
It's natural to feel concerned and anxious about medical bills in the wake of an accident that's injured or otherwise harmed you. Medical care is expensive in today's world. Plus, an accident may have harmed you financially in other ways as well. If you can't work for a long time, or if your injuries render you unable to work at all, the lack of money coming in can constitute a major source of anxiety in your life.
The short answer is: Yes, it's possible to get your medical bills paid—as well as to receive other compensation, such as lost wages—as long as someone else bears responsibility for your slip and fall accident in the Bronx.
Let's say you tripped on an improperly tacked carpet in a hotel. Hotels owe a duty of care to the public to ensure that their premises are fully safe for guests, employees, and others. If a carpet isn't tacked down correctly, either the hotel itself or the contractor who installed it (and should have inspected it before leaving) bears responsibility for breaching the duty of care. Breaching the duty of care constitutes negligence, and it means the organization responsible is financially liable for injuries stemming directly from the negligent action.
In New York state, people injured directly by the negligent actions of others can seek compensation for:
- Medical bills, both current and future, for emergency transport and treatment, diagnostic tests, doctor's office visits, assistive devices, surgery, hospitalization, prescription medication, retrofitting a home to accommodate injuries, and more
- Wages lost from work if the accident, medical treatment, or recovery time caused the injured individual to miss work
- The lifetime value of earnings if the accident renders the injured individual unable to return to his or her former profession
- Pain and suffering for physical, emotional, and mental pain and suffering
You can seek compensation in these categories either by approaching the at-fault party's insurance company or filing a Bronx slip and fall lawsuit.
How much is my Bronx slip and fall claim worth?
This is one of the most common questions that we hear. It helps to know how insurance companies arrive at claims to get a sense of the actual value of your claim.
There's no one-size-fits-all slip and fall compensation claim. Why? Because all claims depend very much on the type of injuries involved, the severity of the injuries, and the effect such injuries have on the injured individual's life.
A lawyer can help you determine the value of your claim, but below we discuss certain aspects of Bronx slip and fall claims in more detail.
Economic losses. If you have medical bills for treatment you've already received, the amount of those bills is simply added up to determine their total amount.
If your doctors have recommended future treatment, it's a bit more complicated. First, expert testimony is used to verify what treatment your doctors recommend and to verify that the treatment is standard and accepted throughout the medical community.
Next, expert testimony can determine how much future care may cost. That cost, added with your already existing medical bills, is added to your claim.
If you've lost time from work, you compute that by multiplying the time lost by your existing salary. If you are expected to need time off work in the future, expert testimony can help establish how much time to expect for that, and then multiply your wages by that figure.
Expert testimony is also consulted to determine your estimated lifetime value of earnings if you can't work again.
Non-economic losses. Determining pain and suffering losses, along with other potential non-economic damages, can prove difficult. There's no bill to consult to determine how much pain and suffering you've endured due to your injuries.
Generally, the more pain and suffering an individual has endured, the more compensation he or she will receive for that pain and suffering. Severe injuries that result in harmful effects on an injured individual's life will warrant more compensation than minor injuries that only cause minor discomforts.
Furthermore, the value of your claim will also depend on how much the injuries have affected your life as compared to how similar injuries would affect another person. In some situations, certain injuries may have significantly larger impacts on one individual than on another.
Let's say the person who tripped and fell down the stairs was a promising basketball star, with offers from multiple professional teams. Since a spinal cord injury can cause long-term issues with mobility and coordination, the victim may no longer pursue that dream. The emotional and mental pain and suffering is arguably greater in this situation than it would be for someone who didn't have the prospect of playing professional basketball.
What if my loved one died as a result of a Bronx slip and fall accident?
While some slip and falls are relatively minor, others are extremely serious and can even result in death. Such cases are tragic, but not uncommon.
While no amount of compensation can make up for the loss of a loved one, it's important to know that the law provides surviving members legal avenues toward financial recovery. Eligible family members may receive compensation for economic and emotional losses connected with a loved one's death.
If the deceased person could have brought a personal injury suit against the responsible party, the deceased person's estate is entitled to bring a type of suit called a wrongful death claim.
Many states provide that specific family members may themselves initiate a wrongful death suit, but that is not the case in New York. Only a personal representative of a decedent's estate can initiate a wrongful death lawsuit. (Note that the personal representative of the estate may well be a family member, but it is the estate representative status that grants the ability to bring a wrongful death suit, not the family relationship status.)
The damages sought in the wrongful death suit are often meant for surviving family members. If awarded, the estate representative holds these damages in trust for the eligible family member(s).
A wrongful death suit can seek damages in the following categories:
- Medical costs associated with the final injury
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Any wages and benefits lost between the decedent's final injury and his or her death
- The value of support and services that the deceased offered family members
- The value of parental nurturing, care, and guidance to surviving children
- Lost inheritance of surviving children
- Conscious pain and suffering by the deceased stemming from the final injury
I sustained injuries in a slip and fall accident in my neighbor's Bronx home. What are my rights?
Not all property owners owe the same duty of care to the public.
Any establishment open to the public or serving the public must always make their premises safe for the public. In other words, stores, theaters, hotels, malls, and any other place open for public business owe a duty of care to any member of the public who enters. The premises must be safe from any condition that could cause a slip or trip and fall.
If conditions occur suddenly that render the premises unsafe, property owners (or representatives, such as managers and staff of the business) must take prompt action to rectify the problem. Owners must also post warning signs and forbid the public to enter with safety cones or tape.
In other words, if a hotel manager notices that the carpet is not properly tacked down, he or she must immediately call in workers to fix it. While the repair is going on, the manager must advise the public that the area is undergoing work and prevent anyone from entering.
Landlords who rent to members of the public must also always make their premises safe.
However, the law is slightly different for private property owners, such as homeowners. They do not always need to make their premises safe, because members of the public in general do not ordinarily enter a home.
If you are invited in, either for a social event or to perform some sort of work in the home, you are what the law categorizes as a licensee. The property owner needs to advise you of any unsafe condition of which he or she knows about that is not obvious to a reasonable person. If the owner knows, for example, that a stair is damaged, he or she needs to either fix it or tell you.
The law does not require the same level of inspection and awareness of private homeowners that it mandates for owners of businesses open to the public, however. A store owner, for instance, must frequently inspect the property to ensure that no unsafe conditions exist, and repair any that are found.
A private property owner, on the other hand, does not need to inspect the property.
This creates complexity in the law. What if you trip and fall because of an issue the property owner claims that he or she didn't know about? It's prudent to discuss the matter with a lawyer.
The same applies to trespassers, by the way. If you're trespassing on a property, you may have limited recourse for a slip and fall injury. One method is to argue that the property owner knew of frequent trespassing. This sometimes applies if neighbors are known to cut across a backyard, for example.
If the property owner does know of frequent trespassing, however, he or she may owe the same duty of care as to an invitee, which is to make the trespassers aware of any known dangers.
What can your Bronx slip and fall lawyers do for me?
Slip and fall accident victims are sometimes reluctant to consult a lawyer. They may have visions of television shows in which lawyers operate in fancy conference rooms wearing expensive suits and thus worry that lawyers cost a lot of money.
There's no need to worry about up-front cost, however. Most slip and fall accident attorneys offer free initial consultations to injured individuals to discuss the details of their cases. Furthermore, our Bronx slip and fall lawyers work on a contingency fee basis. You do not directly pay your lawyer; rather he or she receives payment via a percentage of any settlement or claim that you receive.
Retaining a lawyer to handle your slip and fall accident case can provide big advantages. First, your lawyer can negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf. Insurance companies will try to minimize how much they must pay as much as possible. They have many tried-and-true methods, and they may try to blame you for your accident. However, your lawyer can investigate the accident, including pulling surveillance footage and talking to eyewitnesses.
Insurance companies may argue that your injuries aren't as severe as you claim, but your lawyer can talk to your doctors and other experts in the field and make it clear how badly injured you really are. Your lawyer can also help you determine the value of your claim.
Finally, your Bronx personal injury lawyer can file a Bronx slip and fall lawsuit if the insurance companies won't pay out your claim. Juries and judges are often more sympathetic to injured individuals than are insurance companies.
If You Need a Bronx Slip and Fall Lawyer, Call Us
A lawyer can help you deal with insurance companies and pursue compensation for a slip and fall accident. Bronx personal injury lawyers can negotiate against defensive tactics and compile evidence, so false insurance allegations are easily matched. Lawyers can also gather surveillance footage and repair records, if necessary.
Need more information? The experienced lawyers at Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA can help with your claim. Our first consultation is always free. Contact the experienced legal team at the Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA today, or call us at (718) 550-3471.
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Bronx, NY 10461
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