Let’s face it. Slip-and-fall accident cases often receive highly negative publicity because of a number of well-documented incidents where attempts were made to defraud the premises owner with false claims. The fact is, people do fall in places like supermarkets and shopping malls, and they get injured, sometimes quite seriously. A Portland premises liability lawyer is often approached by victims who have had to pay expensive medical bills and who have lost income through missing work. These people invariably start by asking the same question, “Do I have a case?”
It’s true that the mere acts of tripping, slipping, falling and sustaining an injury are not in themselves grounds for making a claim. There are several criteria which must be met when proving liability in a slip-and-fall case. Some cases are more difficult to prove than others, and stores and supermarkets, along with their insurance companies, will invariably challenge the claim. That’s all the more reason why any Oregon resident who has been injured in such a case should without fail consult a Portland premises liability lawyer before proceeding with their claim.
I slipped, fell and was injured! How can I prove liability?
The short answer to that question would be, “No, it’s actually not enough.” To prove liability, the victim would have to prove that the supermarket, store, shopping mall, restaurant or whatever other type of premises may be involved, actually caused the dangerous condition that led to the slip and fall. In cases where this can’t be proved, the court is unlikely to award any compensation to the victim. In fact, a premises owner or possessor will not be considered liable in most cases in the following cases:
- The place where the fall occurred was not unreasonably dangerous
- The premises had no reason to know the hazardous condition existed
- The premises used reasonable care to protect the public and prevent them being injured
- The customer was mainly at fault, through his or her own negligence, for the injury
Obviously, all four of these points could be argued from both points of view, and it will often take expert testimony to determine whether a place was unreasonably dangerous, or that reasonable care had been taken to protect visitors. Some examples of situations in which a premises would be considered liable include:
- A spill or puddle has been left unattended for substantial periods of time
- An icy patch has not been removed from in front of an entrance
- A supermarket carton or display situated below eye level is left sticking out into an aisle.
In cases like these, a Portland premises liability lawyer will argue that the supermarket/store/shop should have known the conditions existed, or that employees created the dangerous conditions, in which case the premises should be held liable for the injuries sustained by the slip and fall victim.
Approximately 60% of falls resulting in injury are caused by slips or trips that happened because of unattended spills, foreign objects left on the floor or design flaws in the floor itself. Poor lighting, uneven flooring, potholes and snow outside an entrance are other factors that often contribute to a bad fall.
What to do after a Portland slip and fall accident injury:
Trying to prove the property owner knew about the conditions which led to a fall can be tricky. It often requires a thorough review of the company’s business records and an expert analysis of the actual area where the slip and fall took place. The most common defense used by insurance companies defending the case on behalf of the premises is that the person who fell and was injured simply wasn’t watching where he or she was going and was therefore responsible for what happened.
If you’ve been involved in a slip and fall accident and been injured, it’s important that you receive the medical treatment you need. Immediately after the accident, you should:
- Phone the police and, if necessary, the paramedics
- Try to get the names, addresses and contact details of as many witnesses as you can, before they or you leave the scene. If a premises employee saw what happened, make sure you get their name.
- Get photos of the accident scene. As soon as you’re physically able, and preferably immediately after the accident, use your cell phone or even a disposable camera to photograph the dangerous conditions that caused your fall. If you don’t have access to a camera, ask someone else to take the photos. If that’s not possible, take detailed notes about the size, shape, color and location of what it was that caused you to fall.
- Report the fall to the store owner or manager, but do not give them a detailed statement until after you have spoken with a Portland premises liability lawyer.
- Keep any clothing or other evidence that can help confirm your accident, and present these and all the information you collected to your personal injury attorney.
- Get immediate medical attention, including any necessary x-rays, and be sure to mention any pain you are having, no matter how minor it may seem at the time. If you can, take pictures of any injuries you have received. These can be very important when making your case.
- Don’t delay. Oregon has a very specific statute of limitations with regards to filing a slip and fall injury claim. Failure to meet the deadlines by even one day will completely invalidate your claim, no matter what.
Slipping and falling in a store or supermarket may be embarrassing, and you might be a bit reticent about proceeding with a claim. However, if you’ve been injured through the negligence of a premises owner, manager or employee, why should you be stuck with the medical bills and lost income, as well as ongoing treatment costs? Maybe you’re not sure you actually have a valid claim. If that’s the case, you should still contact an experienced Portland premises liability lawyer. They will gladly meet you, usually at no charge, listen to your story and quickly advise you of the validity of your claim, the likely outcome of your case, and the kind of compensation you can expect to receive.