Premise Liability Attorneys in Central Virginia
According to the National Floor Safety Institute, slip and falls represent the primary cause of lost days from work, and are the leading cause of workers’ compensation claims, meaning a significant amount of slip and falls occur in the workplace. That being said, individuals also fall in public places on a regular basis, due to a variety of hazards. The Consumer Product Safety Commission has determined that floors and flooring materials are a direct contributor to at least two million slip and fall injuries annually.
Slip and falls are particularly dangerous for the elderly; one out of every three people over the age of 65 will experience a slip and fall with nearly 1.8 million people over the age of 65 being treated in the ER each year as the result of a slip and fall. Anyone can fall, however, no matter their age. Slip and falls on private or public property or at a place of business are often caused by the owner’s failure to adequately maintain the premises. Dangers in these areas can be caused by:
- Poor lighting;
- Liquid spills;
- Broken or uneven stair treads;
- Broken or missing handrails on stairs;
- Icy or wet walkways;
- Obstructions in pathways;
- Uneven flooring;
- Torn carpeting;
- Greasy or oily floors or parking lots;
- Debris-strewn floors;
- Open manholes with no barricades;
- Unsafe construction sites;
- Obstructed view, or
- Poorly marked or maintained detours.
How Is Liability Proven in a Slip and Fall?
In every slip and fall case—as well as in every personal injury case—there will be liability and there will be damages (and you cannot have one without the other). To hold another person or entity responsible for injuries suffered in a slip and fall accident, you must be able to show that: the property owner or their employee either recognized a dangerous condition or should have recognized the condition and did nothing to remove or repair the potential danger or that the dangerous condition was actually caused by the property owner or employee.
If the question is whether the property owner or employee recognized or should have recognized the danger, the question is two-part: whether a reasonable person would have identified the condition as hazardous and whether the person had sufficient time to remedy the situation prior to the accident. The question then hinges on the term “reasonable.” In this context, “reasonable” generally defines whether the owner or employees made regular and thorough efforts to keep the property safe and clean.
As an example, if a person tripped over a torn area of carpet, had the torn area been there long enough that the owner or employees should have seen it and remedied the situation? If the owner or employees knew about the torn carpet, should they reasonably have cordoned off the area, or placed a warning sign until the torn carpet could be repaired? The “reasonable” person theory can work against the plaintiff as well. Would a careful person have reasonably seen the torn carpet and avoided it? Was the person who experienced the slip and fall distracted, or fooling around in a manner which would make a slip and fall more likely?
Pure Contributory Negligence Rule in Virginia
While negligence laws vary from state to state, Virginia’s negligence laws are relatively harsh in that if an injured person is found to have contributed to the accident or injury in some way, there is no case. Some states follow comparative negligence laws which reduce the amount of settlement by the percent of fault assigned to the plaintiff (if the plaintiff is found to be 25 percent responsible for the accident, then the final settlement will be reduced by 25 percent), however in Virginia, the defendant must be 100 percent at fault.
Virginia Statute of Limitations in Slip and Fault Claims
Those who suffer a slip and fall in the state of Virginia must be aware of the statutes of limitations regarding a slip and fall claim. The statutes of limitations govern the amount of time a person has to file a specific type of claim or lawsuit and vary from state to state. If an injured person fails to settle their claim or file a lawsuit within the time frame mandated by the statute of limitations, their claim will be forever barred and they will lose the right to recover damages for their injury.
In the state of Virginia, the general statute of limitations for personal injury claims is two years. This means that you only have 2 years from the date of injury to file a lawsuit. There are some exceptions such as when the injury happens to a child.
Being aware of the appropriate statute of limitations for a claim is extremely important. Failure to settle the claim or file a lawsuit within the required timeframe will mean the claim is legally barred and will make it impossible for the injured party to go forward with their slip and fall claim. This makes it incredibly important that you speak with a Virginia Injury Attorney soon after your injury or accident so that you are informed of the deadlines and requirements under Virginia law.
What to Do Following a Slip and Fall in Virginia
To ensure you receive the compensation you are entitled to following your Virginia slip and fall accident, make sure you do the following:
- First, always seek medical attention. This is important to determine the extent of your injuries and receive proper treatment for those injuries. In some cases, you may not realize the extent of your injuries until days later, however a medical professional will know what to look for to identify those injuries quickly.
- If you are physically able, take photographs of the floor area where you fell, as well as surrounding areas.
- If there were witnesses to your slip and fall, take the time to get the witnesses’ contact information—it could be invaluable later on.
- Make an official report of your slip and fall with the store or other public entity.
- Keep a careful written account of every detail associated with your slip and fall accident.
- Contact an experienced Virginia slip and fall attorney as quickly as possible after your accident.
Getting Help from a Virginia Slip and Fall Attorney
If you have been hurt in a Virginia slip and fall accident, the sooner you obtain qualified legal representation, the better your final outlook will be. The Tronfeld West & Durrett attorneys have helped many people who have found themselves in the same situation. We understand what a difficult time this could be for you—you may be injured, unable to work and facing an increasing level of medical expenses plus your regular monthly bills. We want to help and will spend time discussing your specific circumstances, determining how to proceed. Contact a Tronfeld West & Durrett attorney today!