Slip and Fall Accidents in Virginia
Slip and falls can happen anywhere, and can often lead to serious injuries. If your slip and fall was the fault of someone else, you may have a legal claim. However, slip and fall cases can be hard to win. D'Lima Law, LLC can provide experienced legal representation so that you get the best outcome in your case.
Statistics show that slip and falls are a leading cause of injury. Falls were the top cause of injury hospitalizations in Virginia in 2019 with almost 20,000 incidents, according to the Virginia Department of Health. Serious falls can even lead to death. According to the CDC, falls caused almost 40,000 deaths across the US in 2019.
If the slip and fall happened on someone else's property and they were at fault, you may be able to bring a legal claim to compensate you for your injuries.
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Common causes and locations of slip and falls
Some common causes of slip and falls include:
- Slippery surfaces, especially caused by ice, snow, water or other liquids
- Debris, such as fallen leaves
- Poorly maintained carpet or stairs
- Poor lighting
- Uneven floors
Some common locations of slip and falls, beside one's own home, include:
- Retail stores, such as supermarkets
- Apartment complexes
- Sidewalks and pathways
- Parking lots
Serious injuries can result from a slip and fall, including back injury and back pain, concussions, broken wrists, broken hips, and broken ankles, and in some cases even death may result.
Are slip and fall cases hard to win in Virginia?
Slip and fall cases can be hard to win in Virginia for several reasons: the elements that must be proven - the liability of the property owner and the causation between the fall and the injuries; the requirement in Virginia that the person injured cannot have contributed to their fall in any way; and gathering sufficient evidence.
A customer to a business is an "invitee" upon the business's premises, which means that the business owner has a duty to exercise ordinary care toward the customer. This duty includes:
- keeping the premises in a reasonably safe condition,
- removing, within a reasonable time, objects from its floors that it knew, or should have known, were placed there, and
- warning the customer of unsafe conditions unknown to the customer but that the business owner knew, or should have known, about.
The business owner does not have to make sure the store is absolutely safe and take every single precaution - just the requirement to exercise ordinary care and make the premises reasonably safe.
Proving causation requires showing that the business owner's failure to exercise ordinary care was the cause of the fall and resulting injuries. This is mostly about proving how the accident itself happened.
Another challenge in litigating slip and fall cases in Virginia is the principle of contributory negligence. Virginia has a pretty strict rule - if you were in any way at fault for your slip and fall, even just slightly, the other party can use that as a defense to completely bar your claim.
The basis for the principle is that the person bringing the lawsuit also had a duty to act as a reasonable person would act for their own safety under the circumstances (see RGR, LLC v. Settle, 764 S.E.2d 8 (Va. 2014)). This means that you have a duty to prevent, as much as a reasonable person could under the circumstances, a slip and fall from happening.
Proving Damages and Gathering Evidence
A person injured in a slip and fall has to also prove that they were actually injured in the way that they claim. Documentation is very important here, including medical records proving the injuries or statements from an employer proving time lost at work.
Other evidence that can be relevant includes:
- Statements from witnesses
- Statements from employees
- Business records, such as policies on store cleaning and upkeep
- Security camera footage
It can often be difficult to gather much physical evidence in a slip and fall case (as opposed to, for example, a car accident), and many claims come down to the testimony of the person injured and any witnesses who happened to have been at the scene.
Proving slip and fall cases can be complex. Contact D'Lima Law, LLC regarding your case, and speak with a personal injury attorney about the strength of your case. Call or text us at 1-800-516-8060 to set up a free consultation.
What's my slip and fall case worth?
The worth of a slip and fall case is extremely dependent on the particular facts of that case.
Factors that affect the value of a slip and fall claim include:
- The extent of injuries
- Whether the injuries will heal or are permanent
- Lost wages or earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Availability of punitive damages (intended to punish the wrongdoer and require proving much more than just negligence)
- Amount of documentation available
- Ease of obtaining evidence and locating witnesses
Most slip and fall cases settle, often without needing to file a case in court. Settling resolves the matter quickly (and discreetly if no case was filed), and both parties save the costs of case expenses (which, for the person injured, are reimbursed out of the money recovered) and the time litigating.
If there is a strong disagreement between the person injured and the business owner regarding some aspect of the case, such as liability, the extent of injuries, or the amount of compensation demanded or offered, going to trial may be necessary.
What should I do if I experienced a slip and fall?
Make sure to get medical attention right away. If you are able, let the medical providers know that you experienced a slip and fall, and tell them to include that in your medical records. Even if you don't think your injury is serious, a medical examination can reveal the full extent of your injuries and provides important documentation for proving your case.
If you are able, gather as much evidence from the scene of the slip and fall as possible, including taking photos, identifying possible witnesses and getting their contact information, and making notes so that you don't forget any details later.
If you are able, file a complaint with the establishment's manager or person in charge.
Take notes of everything that happens related to your slip and fall, including the scope of your pain and injuries, and dates and locations of medical visits.
Contact a legal professional about your case as soon as possible and discuss the best paths going forward, including whether to negotiate a settlement or take your case to trial.
How long do I have to bring a slip and fall case?
A law for limiting the amount of time you can bring a certain type of case to court is called a statute of limitations. If you try to file a lawsuit after that date, the other party can ask the court to completely dismiss the case. Some statutes of limitations that pertain to slip and fall cases include:
Personal injury claims must be brought within two years of the date of the slip and fall accident (Va. Code 8.01-243(A)).
If the slip and fall resulted in a death, the deceased's personal representative has two years from the date of death to file a claim (Va. Code 8.01-244(B)).
(There may be some exceptions to these deadlines, for example if the person injured was a minor.)
If you or a loved one experienced a slip and fall, don't wait to get legal help - the sooner you contact us, the better we can represent you. Call or text us at 1-800-516-8060 for a no-obligation consultation.
Have more questions or need a Virginia slip and fall lawyer?D'Lima Law, LLC can help. Contact us to set up a free consultation to discuss your case.
You can call or text us at 1-800-516-8060.