A slip & fall accident is never a good thing, even if you aren’t injured. For many people, it’s just awkward. But you may suffer injuries in a fall, some of them severe. A slip & fall accident as a result of someone else’s negligence means you may be able to recover damages and compensation for things like medical expenses and lost wages.
If you are involved in a slip & fall accident in New York City, there are a few things you need to do for a successful outcome:
· Preserve the evidence—most people carry a cell phone. Even non-smartphones usually have a camera and the ability to take pictures. Learn how to use it before you need it. Take pictures of the area, if you’re able, including anything unusual. If it’s obvious what tripped you, of course, pictures of that. If you’re with someone, ask them to help you take pictures of not only close-ups but wider-angle shots. Pictures go a long way in telling your story, especially if you decide to file a lawsuit.
· Seek medical attention—head to your nearest emergency room or doctor’s office to get checked out, even if you’re not obviously injured. Soft tissue injuries may not show up until later, so it’s important to document your medical evaluation. Document your immediate visit as well as subsequent medical treatments (cast removal, physical therapy, etc.) You’ll also have additional evidence to back up your claim.
· Investigate all options—there are medical and other expenses and lost wages that you may be able to recover for. A lawsuit may not be your only option, but you won’t know unless you take time to research everything. Start researching as soon as you are well enough, so you have enough time to make the right choice.
· If you need to, hire a personal injury attorney—slip & fall is considered a “personal injury,” so you want someone who is experienced in that area of New York law.
· Don’t do anything to jeopardize your case—understand that the other side will do anything they can to reduce your settlement. They will attempt to prove that your case is fraudulent, you’re not injured, and have your case dismissed. Insurance companies (as well as attorneys) routinely hire private detectives to follow around plaintiffs and claimants to catch dishonest plaintiffs. They’re also used to catch legitimate cases; one photograph taken the right way can sink your case completely. Now, drone technology gives the PI one more way to photograph you in public. Don’t give them the opportunity by doing something in public that you claim in your claim or suit that you can’t do.
· Don’t discuss your case on social media—just like a divorce case, avoid talking about your case on Facebook and other online venues. Private investigators are always scouring social media in the same way the police do when catching criminals. Any comment, no matter how benevolent, can be misused against you. Don’t do it.
You Have Three Years
The Statute of Limitations in New York requires that you file your suit within three years of the date of the accident. The clock starts ticking the day of the accident, whether you’re injured, or you’re claiming property damage. If you miss this deadline, your lawsuit will most likely be dismissed.
If your complaint involves a NYC entity (including the NYCTA, NYCHA, city bus or subway), you only have 90 days to file, so don’t wait.
New York assigns fault percentages to slip & fall accidents (just like car accidents.) If you are partially at fault for your accident, say, 25%, then any settlement you receive can be reduced by that 25%. If your percentage is over 50%, you’ll receive no settlement.
For instance, if you were injured after fell on a floor due to a broken tile and uneven surface, you might recover at 100%. But if the owner or manager placed a sufficient warning sign at the area, and you didn’t see it because you were looking at your phone while listening with earbuds, you were at least partially at fault. Your settlement could be reduced, or even eliminated, depending on the fault assigned.
Hoffmaier & Hoffmaier has been helping injured New Yorkers with slip & fall cases for over 25 years. Call us at (212) 777-9400. We’ll schedule your free consultation, and let you know how we can help you. There’s no fee unless we win your case. We’ll fight for your rights and get you the settlement you need to take care of your injuries and get on with your life.