Morgantown Slip and Fall accidents can cause serious injuries or fatalities. Even where you might expect to slip and fall (such as on an icy walkway), you could still suffer from severe injuries depending on how you hit the ground.Slip and fall accidents can happen anywhere—at work, school, home, or while you are shopping at the Walmart Supercenter, the Suncrest Towne Centre, or the Morgantown Mall.
You should always seek medical attention after you fall. Then you should contact the Morgantown Slip and Fall Lawyers at Wagoner Desai PLLC as soon as possible to learn about your rights and any legal remedies you have for paying your medical bills.
Causes of Morgantown Slip and Fall Accidents
Anything slippery can cause you to slip and fall, or you could trip and fall if something is left on the floor. Some of the causes of slips, trip, and falling include:
- Ice, snow, rain, or mud;
- Solid or liquid contaminants on the floor;
- Irregular surfaces, such as a tipped sidewalk;
- Humps in walkways, for instance, when two pieces of cement do not line up or when there is a pothole in the road;
- Poor lighting;
- Loose cords and other tripping hazards;
- Floor mats and runners that are not perfectly flat on the floor, or a thick floor mat, runner, or carpet;
- Stairs; and
- Ladders and step stools.
The places that are open to the public should be properly maintained, and messes should be cleaned up as soon as possible. They should also put out “Wet Floor” signs—especially at entrances—during inclement weather. Most places, whether open to the public or a residence, have a duty to ensure that patrons or guests are safe when visiting.
Slip, Trip, and Fall Injuries
Injuries you could suffer from when you slip or trip and fall could range from very minor to catastrophic. Injuries include:
- Bumps, bruises, cuts, and scrapes;
- Friction burns if you slip, fall, and slide;
- Deep gashes, if you catch yourself on something sharp as you fall;
- Road rash;
- Pulled and/or torn muscles;
- Strains and/or sprains;
- Simple and/or compound fractures;
- Head, neck, and shoulder injuries;
- Back and spinal cord injuries;
- Traumatic brain injuries, including mild to severe concussions; and
- Internal injuries.
Some of these injuries could lead to long-term or permanent disabilities. Because of the chance of this, you should always seek out medical attention after a Morgantown slip and fall accident or a trip and fall accident.
What to Do After a Morgantown Slip and Fall Accident
If you can move after a Morgantown slip and fall accident, take photos of the scene and what made you slip or trip. If you feel severe pain when trying to move, call first responders before doing anything. Even if you do not think you are hurt too severely, you should have your doctor or the emergency room check you out, especially if you hit your head when you fell.
Some injuries might not manifest until hours or even days later. Even twisting when you fall could cause injuries that might not show up immediately. Additionally, if you are going to seek compensation for your injuries, you will need a medical record to show that you did suffer injuries when you fell.
If you slipped or tripped and fell in a public place, whether in a store or the parking lot, let a manager know what happened. If the accident occurred at work, let your supervisor know what happened. Document the date and time you fell, and the time you notified someone of your accident.Keeping documentation and reporting the incident to someone in the place with the hazard could help ensure that you have a date and time of the accident. It also lets the owner of the property know that you might follow-up after you evaluate the accident and your injuries.
When you do speak to someone about the accident, do not blame the establishment, a person, or yourself; keep your observations to yourself. Your Morgantown slip and fall attorney would take care of that while representing you. If anyone offers to pay your medical bills or to give you money or products, do not accept it. It might not be enough to cover your injuries.
You should also add additional documentation for the accident. If possible, write down a detailed account of the accident, including what you slipped on or tripped over, whether there were any warning signs, what the weather was, or if there was a power outage. Get the names and contact information of any witnesses to the accident.
Finally, contact a Morgantown slip and fall lawyer as soon as you are able, even if you are still in the hospital. Contact Wagoner Desai PLLC today.
Morgantown Slip and fall Frequently Asked Questions
If walking is your favorite outdoor recreation, Morgantown’s wooded hiking trails might be just for you. While rugged terrain, uneven surfaces, and even unexpected obstructions are normal for the trails, most people expect smooth surfaces and unobstructed pathways walking about Morgantown. When walking along the sidewalk or strolling into a restaurant, we assume it is safe to do so and no hazard will cause us to slip, trip, or fall.
Unfortunately, slip and fall accidents happen every day due to poor floor and infrastructure maintenance, inadequate cleaning, and unresolved conditions of disrepair. Adults sustain fall injuries on walkways and parking lots, elevated working surfaces, and staircases. Children trip and fall on playgrounds, sports surfaces, and other areas designed specifically for children.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration cites falls as the number one cause of construction accidents across the country. Construction falls sometimes involve industrial equipment, but they also occur on walkways and elevated surfaces such as scaffolds. As OSHA Fall Hazards training materials explain, “Any walking or working surface can be a potential fall hazard.”
While not every slip and fall causes severe damage, many victims sustain fatal or even catastrophic injuries. The most severely injured victims undergo costly treatment, long-term recovery, and continuous financial losses. Some go through rehabilitation, but never completely recover. If you sustain injuries in a Morgantown slip and fall accident due to the negligence of a property owner, maintenance contractor, or others responsible for maintenance of the premises, they could be held liable for your financial and personal losses from the accident.
This FAQ provides answers to some common questions Morgantown slip and fall victims are likely to have.
How many fall accidents occur each year?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention publishes several Fall Safety pages that provide valuable insight into the frequency of slip and fall accidents:
- Each year, 800,000 Americans undergo hospitalization due to falls, often for head injuries and hip fractures.
- Eight thousand American children receive fall-related emergency treatment each day.
- Each year, 28 percent of adults 65 and older report falls.
- Among those 65 and older, falls produce more fatal and nonfatal injuries than any other cause.
- Children younger than 19 sustain more non-fatal injuries from falls than from any other cause.
What Might Cause a Morgantown Slip and Fall Accident?
Slip and fall accidents may happen in any number of places throughout Morgantown and for a host of reasons. Slip and fall accidents happen primarily when property owners fail to take reasonable care in maintaining their premises. Property owners might further fail to provide adequate warnings of hazards of which they know or should know.
Some conditions that may contribute to Morgantown slip and fall accidents include:
- Inadequate safety/security: absence of hand-rails, gates, or warning signs drawing attention to dangerous conditions
- Poorly maintained stairs: deteriorating steps, inadequate lighting, defective or missing handrails, worn carpeting
- Inadequate escalator/elevator maintenance: inoperable or malfunctioning mechanical parts, worn flooring
- Inadequate or untimely snow and ice removal: from the pavement, parking lots, stairs, and sidewalks
- Unsafe retail operations: blocked aisles, wet floors, fallen merchandise
- Poorly maintained floors: worn carpeting, damaged or uneven tile or wood flooring
- Damaged sidewalks and pavement: Cracked or crumbling concrete, holes in the pavement, sidewalk variances
- Poorly maintained sports fields: Holes, rocks, and objects
- Deteriorating park surfaces: broken pavement, potholes
What Kinds of Injuries Can Result From a Morgantown Slip and Fall Case?
Fall-related injuries vary depending on the circumstances. The simplest injuries involve cuts, bruises, and abrasions. The more severe injuries are catastrophic. Catastrophic injuries occur most often when a person falls from an elevated area to a lower level.
They are also more likely to occur when a person falls on a hard surface, such as concrete. Because of their relative frailty, young children and older adults are more likely to sustain life-threatening injuries when they fall.
These are some injuries Morgantown slip and fall victims might sustain.
- Spinal Cord Injuries: The National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center tracks 34,734 SCI cases. Of their subjects, 32.3 percent sustained injuries in falls.
- Traumatic Brain Injuries: Of the 18,557 patients in the TBIMS National Data and Statistical Center database, 29 percent sustained TBI injuries in falls.
- Fractures and dislocations: Fractures often occur during falls on hard surfaces. CDC statistics show that 95 percent of all hip fractures occur due to falls. Frailty contributes to fall-related fractures in young children.
- Damaged internal organs: Organ damage sometimes occurs in connection with pelvic or spinal fractures. These instances happen most often when a person slips and falls from one level to another.
- Soft Tissues Injuries: Falls frequently cause neck, back, leg, and other soft tissue sprains and strains. These injuries often occur in conjunction with more serious conditions.
- Laceration and abrasions: These injuries can cause severe pain, infections, and scarring.
Does a Morgantown property owner automatically owe compensation if I fall on their property?
Property owners do not owe compensation, or damages, simply because you fall on their property. You can only hold them liable for damages if they caused or contributed to your injuries by their negligent, reckless, or intentional actions.
To determine whether or not their insured is liable, a property owner’s insurer will investigate a claim and look for:
- Duty of Care: Did the property owner owe the claimant a duty of care? If the claimant was a business patron, yes. If the claimant was a trespasser, likely not.
- Breach of Duty: Did the owner fail to act the way a prudent property owner would have acted in the same circumstances?
- Cause: Did the owner’s breach of duty cause the fall?
- Damages: Are the injuries or damages for which you are claiming compensation a direct consequence of the fall?
Can I recover damages if I fall at work in Morgantown?
Per West Virginia law, Morgantown employers owe you only for workers’ compensation benefits. You cannot sue your employer after a workplace fall. However, you retain your right to sue a third party if such party caused or contributed to your slip and fall accident.
Responsible third parties in workplace fall accidents may include subcontractors and product manufacturers. If you file a suit against a third party, West Virginia’s Workers’ Compensation Code, §23-2A-1 requires that you protect the workers’ compensation insurer’s subrogation rights. This means that when you recover damages for your claim, you must reimburse any benefits they paid on your behalf.
How long do I have to file my Morgantown slip and fall claim?
Each state has a statute of limitations for personal injury claims. A statute of limitations establishes the time frame in which an injured person can make a claim or file a lawsuit. West Virginia Code, §55-2-12, sets a two-year statute of limitations for personal injury claims, including slip and fall claims.
The period ends two years from the day you sustain an injury. If you do not settle your claim or file a lawsuit before that date, you may lose your right to make a claim.
Do I have to file a lawsuit to recover compensation for my Morgantown slip and fall injuries?
Many slip and fall victims settle their claims without filing a lawsuit. Insurers usually handle liability claims on behalf of their insured property owners. Insurance companies deal with either the injured person or their legal representative. When they determine a victim is likely to be able to show their insured owes damages, they will normally settle.
Hire an attorney to handle the claims process. Insurers recognize that many people do not understand liability issues, the value of their claims, and how to produce evidence to back up their claims. Thus, insurance companies often negotiate low settlements with self-represented claimants.
Do I need an attorney to handle my Morgantown slip and fall claim?
Yes. Our experienced Morgantown slip and fall attorney will protect your legal rights. Insurance companies understand that injured people often do not fully understand the process and what they deserve. Our attorneys can help make sure you receive fair treatment.
You can decide whether or not to hire our slip and fall attorneys after your free consultation. With a free consultation, you can learn about your legal options without committing to us.
Is Retaining a Morgantown Attorney Mandatory?
Insurance companies are in business to make money, which means that they might offer you less than your matter is worth or they might even deny your claim. Using an attorney can help reduce the likelihood that the insurance company will bully you into accepting a lowball offer or saying something that hurts your claim.
Insurance companies also know that when you retain an attorney, there is a better chance that you will litigate if you do not believe the settlement is fair.Additionally, depending on the location of the accident and the reason you fell, more than one person or business owner might be liable for your injuries.
Finally, it can be difficult to get an insurance company to pay for future medical expenses and lost income if you suffer from long-term or permanent disabilities because of injuries from a Morgantown slip and fall accident.
Contact Wagoner Desai PLLC
Morgantown slip and fall injuries are sometimes serious or even catastrophic. In some cases, people could die if they hit their heads or suffer internal injuries as a result of a fall.If you suffer from injuries because of a slip and fall or trip and fall in Morgantown, or you lost a loved one because of such an accident, contact Wagoner Desai PLLC for a free consultation today.
Wagoner Desai, PLLC
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