Injuries from a slip and fall accident are unfortunately common.
They occur when a person is injured after slipping and falling, either on private property, commercial property, or government property.
According to the National Floor Safety Institute, falls account for over 8 million hospital emergency room visits each year, and slips and falls account for over 1 million visits.
While these accidents can happen when we’re not paying attention or if we’re feeling uncoordinated, sometimes they occur because of dangerous conditions or damage on the property. Sometimes, a trip and fall occur due to negligence, which may make the owner or owners of the property liable for your injuries.
If you’ve been injured from a slip and fall on another person’s property in Rhode Island, you may have a valid injury claim.
Call 401.467.2300 to speak to a slip and fall lawyer at Gemma Law in Providence. Our experienced personal injury team has also put together important information about slip and fall cases in Rhode Island below.
Common Causes of Slip and Fall Incidents
Slip and falls can happen anywhere and for any number of reasons. However, there are some common circumstances that have led to slip and fall injuries in the past. Examples include:
- Rough or uneven flooring, such as broken or uneven pavement or trip hazards like extension cords or sprinkler heads
- Wet or slippery floors due to water, leaky pipes, fluids, oil, grease, or spilled food
- Ice or snow on sidewalks following a snowstorm
- Potholes or debris on sidewalks or walkways
- Poor lighting in parking lots, stairwells, hallways, or other public areas
- Unsafe construction or maintenance areas
Injuries Caused by Slip and Falls
Every slip and fall incident is unique, but common areas for injuries include the back, head, neck, and pelvic area. Injuries from a slip and fall can range from minor bruises and scratches to severe injuries. Common slip and fall injuries include:
- Muscle sprains
- Torn ligaments or tendons
- Herniated disc
- Bruised tailbone
- Fractured vertebrae
- Broken hip or pelvis
- Traumatic brain injury
Factors That Determine a Slip and Fall Case
To determine whether the property owner is liable for your slip and fall, certain factors must be proven. Because slip and fall accidents are included under what is called “premises liability,” you must prove that the property owner did not fulfill their duty to maintain a safe environment for others. The factors that must be met in slip and fall cases are as follows:
What unsafe condition caused the slip and fall on the property? Did the property owner cause an unsafe condition or allow it to persist? It’s important to note that owners have to make their property reasonably safe for the public, not perfectly safe.
For example, a small business owner may clear fresh snow and ice from their doorway and surrounding sidewalks. They may even lay ice melt on the pavement to make it safer for customers to walk on. The owner took measures to make it reasonably safe on the premises, so a slip and fall, in this case, may not be valid.
Liability or Breach of Duty
Next, to prove that the property owner is liable, they must have legal responsibility for the premises and anything that takes place on the property. Some owners have liability insurance that relieves them of liability. In this case, you’d file a suit against the insurance company, not the property owner.
If the property owner is the one to hold responsible, it must be proven that they were aware of the dangerous situation, that they did not take steps to resolve it, and/or there was no warning posted to others. For example, you’ve probably seen “Wet Floor” signs posted at store entryways after rain or snow, or if a store floor was recently mopped and is still slippery.
Not every incident is the property owner’s responsibility, even if it occurs on their property. For example, if a child in a grocery store drops a bottle of liquid on the floor and another person immediately slips and falls, the owner of the store will likely not be liable. They didn’t have a reasonable time to discover those unsafe conditions before the slip and fall occurred.
Plaintiff’s Fault or Contribution
Finally, the injured party is also expected to prevent his or her own injuries to some extent. If the person who slipped and fell shared some of the liability by contributing to their injuries in any way, he or she may not be awarded a full settlement.
This is called comparative negligence and is an important factor in deciding whether to file a slip and fall claim in Rhode Island.
Let’s say you were walking on a public sidewalk, where there is a large pothole sectioned off by cones and caution tape. You tripped on the edge of the hole and fell, sustaining injuries.
However, you were distracted by texting on your phone. You may be partially responsible for your injuries since you disregarded posted warning signs and the owner took reasonable measures to make that area safe.
What to Do After a Slip and Fall in Rhode Island
If you’ve suffered from a slip and fall, your first step is to always seek medical attention immediately. Your health is a top priority following an accident. Medical teams can properly document your injuries, ensure your condition doesn’t get worse and provide documentation evidence in your personal injury claim.
After seeking medical care, it’s important to report the accident to the property owner, manager, landlord, or whoever is in charge. Request a copy of the written report, which may also be used as evidence in the future.
Similarly, document as many details as you can. Gather contact information from witnesses. Take pictures of the location where you fell and make notes of the condition. Keep the shoes or clothing you were wearing during the slip and fall in a safe storage location.
Do not place blame on others or apologize for the incident. Avoid speaking to an insurance company, or anyone other than the property owner, until you’ve spoken to a personal injury attorney about filing a claim.
It’s also important to note that the sooner you file your claim, the better. Especially in Rhode Island, where the statute of limitations (General Laws section 9-1-14) states you have three years to seek any claims for personal injury caused by someone else.
How a Slip and Fall Lawyer Can Help
Determining liability in a slip and fall case can be challenging when there are a number of factors at play. A personal injury attorney experienced in slip and fall cases can help you recover compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, or attorney fees.
If you’ve been injured in a slip and fall, contact the injury lawyers at Gemma Law.