What Do Slip and Fall Attorneys Do? - DeSalvo Injury Lawyers
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What Do Slip and Fall Attorneys Do?

Slip and fall cases can happen anywhere. I’ve represented people who have fallen inside stores or outside businesses or even inside private residences. Slip and fall cases involve falls on sidewalks or downstairs.

No matter where you have fallen or what situation you find yourself, it is important for you to know the basics of these kinds of cases.

The Basics of a Slip and Fall Case

Knowing the basics of a slip and fall case helps you know what has to be proven so that you can make sure you get the evidence you need to prove your case. Having the right evidence in a slip and fall case can increase your chances of winning.

Not knowing the basics of a slip and fall case can easily lead to you losing your case. The first thing you need to know about a slip and fall case is that we have to prove that the property owner or manager did something wrong.

If we can’t prove that the owner or manager did something wrong, then we can’t prove they were negligent. In every injury case, we have to prove that the business or person we are suing was negligent. Otherwise, we can’t recover.

What You Have To Prove

In slip and fall cases, we have to prove exactly what caused you to fall. Then, we have to be able to prove that the landlord or manager:

1. Created the problem
2. Knew about the problem, OR
3. That the problem was there for so long that they should have known about it and fixed it.


We have to be able to prove ONE of those three things or it is impossible for us to win the case. The next thing you should know is that it is okay if you were aware of the problem that made you fall before you fell.

It’s very common for people in slip and fall cases to be aware of a problem on a property. Normally, the law requires you to protect yourself against problems or dangers you know about.

chicago broken bone lawyerHowever, if the danger is hard to see or it is foreseeable to the landlord or owner that you will be distracted when you inquire the danger, then we can still make a claim.

If the landlord or property owner allows a dangerous condition to remain in an area that allows access in and out of the building, then the law definitely allows you to recover. As you can see, analyzing these cases can get a little complicated.

It is important to remember that even if you were aware of the danger, the landlord or property owner still has a legal duty to you and you still have a case. The last thing I want to talk to you about is related to the first two things.

As you can probably tell from the first two things we talked about, slip and fall cases get complicated very quickly. So third, make sure that when you give a statement or a deposition, you understand how to explain your fall.

Make sure you are also aware of the traps that an insurance company lawyer lays for you when they take a statement. This can mean the difference between winning and losing a case.

I always tell people to not give a recorded statement to a landlord, an insurance company, or a lawyer on their behalf until you have had an opportunity to speak with a lawyer of your own.

Injury lawyers usually offer free consultations and a good lawyer will talk to you for free and give you their opinion on your case.

Slip or Falls Because of Snow, Ice, or Water

The first thing you should be aware of is that you cannot sue in the state of Illinois for somebody failing to shovel snow.

There’s something called the natural accumulation rule which says:

“If snow rain falls from the sky onto the ground and accumulates and somebody encounters that snow or ice and they fall, it’s not the property owners fault or the property managers fault.”

Now here’s a big exception.

You can still recover in these kinds of cases. But you have to find and defect which caused the snow and ice to collect unnaturally.

For example, if snow or rain fell but there is an awning dripping on a sidewalk in front of a restaurant, that is an unnatural accumulation of ice and snow. You may be able to recover for that.

Now, what if somebody removes it but they do it in a negligent way? They pile snow in an area that ultimately causes you an injury. It might be recoverable. I’ll tell you one thing about ice and snow cases though.

The law in Illinois really tries to protect owners and managers of properties against these kinds of cases. If you have fallen on ice, snow, or water, absolutely avail yourself of the free consultation that almost all lawyers give.

These days, almost every injury lawyer works on a contingency fee. This means you don’t pay them until they win. They’re willing to talk to you for free.

Fall Down Injury Q&A

Now, I am going to answer Robert’s question. Robert took a fall at a restaurant where there was water on the floor. He has a couple of questions that may answer your questions about fall down cases as well.

Here is Robert’s question:

“Hi, this is Robert. I have a lawyer but I am not happy. He never called me back. I took a fall at a restaurant and there was water all over the place. I hurt my back, which was bad to begin with. I had a surgery. I found out my bills are still not paid.

My lawyer had my case for over 6 months and still no offer. Two questions: One, can I fire my lawyer? And Two, will my settlement be enough to pay my bills?”

DES-0037-300x200Thanks for the questions. Robert, you know there’s a couple things I want to talk to you about. The first is that if you are currently represented by a lawyer, it is really not appropriate for another lawyer to be giving you legal advice.

Whenever somebody calls me and says they have a lawyer on their case already, if the lines of communication are opened and they’re still represented, I tell them, “please call your lawyer and have a face to face meeting with them and explain to them how unhappy you are.”

It is a pretty busy business these days to be an injury lawyer and it may just be a misunderstanding. So sit down with your lawyer and try to work things out. To answer your question if you can fire your lawyer, of course you can.

If your lawyer is really being a jerk and you have hit the end of the road with him or her, you have every right to fire that lawyer and hire a new one. Absolutely you can.

I would encourage you not to go for a long period of time without representation though because there are deadlines in cases.Especially if your case is in suit, you definitely don’t want a gap. You don’t want to miss court dates and things like that.

You definitely need to act aggressively to get a new lawyer. Now Robert, you also mentioned that your lawyer had the case for six months and you haven’t heard from your lawyer very much.

One thing I am going to tell you is that sometimes, these cases take a little while to investigate and work up.

For example, when I handle a premises liability or fall down case, I always look for the owner of the property, the manager of the property, or if there is a business being operated at the property. I need to have to all that corporate information as well.

Also, one thing many people don’t think of is that we need to have all of your medical bills and records in before we can even make a demand on an insurance company.

If you are currently continuing to receive medical treatment and there is still time on your statute of limitation or deadline, then what lawyers will usually do is that they will wait until you reach what some lawyer call a maximum medical improvement.law-library

That is a fancy term for when you hit a plateau in your treatment. So you’ve had your surgery, we know what your outcome is. Then it is safe to settle your case. And that makes sense if you think about it.

You don’t want a lawyer to settle your case without knowing whether you need another surgery, or whether your back can never return to normal. The worse your outcome is, the more money your case is worth. So you don’t want a lawyer settling your case right away.

However, if you call a lawyer, you do deserve a callback, so that is no good. The last thing that I thought you said is that you had back injuries before this and I wanted to explain to you.

A lot of times, people think that if you had a bad back and then you have a new accident involving the same part of the body, that it is bad for your case. But the law in Illinois is actually the opposite.

The law in Illinois says that the judge and jury can’t penalize you for having a bad back before. In fact, the person, entity or business who is responsible for hurting you is fully 100% responsible for the harm that they caused you, even if you already had a bad back before.

Why You Need Slip and Fall Attorneys

If you have suffered a slip and fall injury, it’s in your best interest to get in touch with an attorney right away.

Why?

Because if you slipped, fell and injured yourself at a business property, whether the business is to blame in your injury case isn’t always obvious. As a result, insurers in these types of cases typically don’t acknowledge liability in front of a victim who has no legal representation.

In other words, if you don’t have the weight of attorneys on your side, you’ll hit a brick wall with your injury case pretty quickly. In light of this, the first thing slip and fall attorneys do in these types of cases is to grab the defendants’ and relevant insurance companies’ attention.

Without getting a hold of the insurer, settling your injury case is impossible. So, it’s arguably one of the most important steps a slip and fall attorney can take on your behalf.

Liability Proof

So, your attorney has alerted the owner of the business where you fell and the insurer of your injury.

Now what?

Now, the real work begins. Your attorney has to help you establish liability, as this is the only way your case will end up going to trial or result in a settlement. What exactly does proving liability involve?

Your attorney will need to demonstrate that the business property owner was most likely careless and that this carelessness contributed to your injury.

Although proving this is typically straightforward following an injury-causing accident, it can be more complicated in a case involving slipping and falling.

How Did the Injury Happen?

This is the first question slip and fall attorneys will ask. Your attorney needs to find out what exactly happened. Here are some questions your attorney may ask, for example: 

  • Which foot — right or left — slipped in the puddle of liquid?
  • What kinds of shoes did you have on at the time of the accident?
  • What were you carrying at the time?
  • Were you talking on your cell phone when you slipped?
  • Were you sending a text message? 

The answers to these questions matter, as the defendant’s attorney, the insurer and even jury members will demand them before you are offered or awarded money.

Investigating the Scene

The next question your attorney will ask is how the defendant can be held financially responsible, or liable, for your slip and fall accident. Not every slip and fall situation is the fault of the defendant.

For instance, if you ended up tripping over your sandal and fell at a store, the store owner wouldn’t necessarily be liable for your resulting injuries.

However, if there was a hazardous item on the floor that contributed to your fall, the business owner may certainly be responsible for your injuries.slip and fall injury

A qualified attorney will take a look at the accident scene and go over all possibilities with you so that you know how and why you lost your balance. Then, the attorney will see if the premises’ condition violated local, state, or federal laws.

Securing an expert witness who can provide expert testimony regarding the business owner’s negligence may further help you make your case.

Did the Property Owner Behave Reasonably?

Besides proving that the defendant violated laws and did not tend to hazardous property conditions in a negligent manner, your attorney will also need to prove that the owner did not behave as a reasonable one would have.

A reasonable business owner would possess a plan for comprehensively and efficiently addressing all hazardous conditions so that nobody suffers an injury.

For instance, a reasonable owner would use a standard protocol for examining his or her business to pinpoint dangerous conditions. In addition, the attorney may ask how long the property owner knew about the dangerous property conditions.

Was there an allowable reason for the hazard? Furthermore, could it have been made safer? Maybe a barrier or warning sign could have been erected. All of this information can play a major role in proving the defendant’s liability in a slip and fall accident case.

Damages Proof

Proving the defendant’s liability is only half the battle. Slip and fall attorneys also need to prove damages. In other words, you can’t just say that your slip and fall accident caused you to break your leg and miss work for several weeks.

Instead, you and your attorney need to document all of the income you lost properly. You can do this using tax returns as well as your company’s tax forms and pay records. Furthermore, your attorney will have to acquire and then organize your medical bills and records.

slip and fallIf you’ve tried to secure your healthcare records in the past, you know how tough it can be. After all, health care workers tend to prioritize caring for patients over photocopying former patients’ medical records.

Fortunately, a good attorney can get the job done — and quickly. If you don’t have enough information in your records pointing to the fact that the slip and fall accident caused your injuries, your attorney might have to draft a letter to your doctor.

The letter would request that the doctor produce a letter or report that specifically addresses this causal relationship. Next, your attorney will go over the pain and suffering you have suffered as a result of your fall.

This needs to be presented in the most powerful light possible to the defendant’s insurer.

How We Can Help

Fall down cases can be very complicated cases to handle. I hope this general information helps you. I encourage you to talk to your lawyer. If you can’t work things out with your lawyer, then get another lawyer to talk to.

If anybody has a question they’d like to ask me where I answer it privately or publicly on YouTube with your permission, you can submit them to calls@desalvolaw.com or call at 888-HURT-318. Say that you have a question that you would like answered on YouTube.

If you are not yet ready to speak with a lawyer, you can get a hold of a free copy of my DVD and book. These explain how the injury claims process works and answers the most common questions injured people have. Same deal. 100% free and no obligation.

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Scott DeSalvo, Injury Lawyer - 312-500-4500
 

I've been helping injured people just like you for my entire 20+ year career in all kinds of injury cases, and I can probably help you, too. You can call me 24/7/365, any time, day or night, to get a free copy of the Injury "Cheat Sheet" which gives you the Five Secrets to winning your injury case. 100% free & no obligation. Or, you can call and ask for a FREE case strategy session where I will answer all of your questions, 100% for free and no obligation. Call 312-500-4500. I look forward to hearing from you!