Slip and falls are extremely common and can have serious consequences in the forms of injuries, pain, and financial stress. Slips, trips, and falls are so common in fact that the CDC estimates over 1 million Americans suffer a slip, trip, and fall injury each year in the US. Additionally, the CDC also states that over 17,000 people die in the U.S. annually because of slip and fall related injuries.
Slip and falls do not only affect the average person grocery shopping or walking down a flight of steps. They also affect people like nursing home residents and workers on-the-job. Slip and fall injuries make up 15% of all job-related injuries.
In nursing homes, for every 100 residents, there are a reported 100-200 falls a year. That means each resident on average falls at least once, maybe twice, a year. Of these nursing home falls, about 10% to 20% of them result in serious injuries and about 1,800 of seniors die each year because of these injuries.
As these statistics clearly demonstrate, slip and falls are a serious safety risk. Whether they happen to a man grocery shopping for his kids, a woman working a construction job in a highrise building, or an elderly person walking to dinner in a nursing home, everyone is susceptible to the common dangers of slips and falls.
Average Cost of a Slip and Fall
The average cost of a slip and fall injury is $30,000. And that is just for the initial medical treatment and hospital stay. It does not take into account future surgeries or long-term rehabilitation. Along with the pain and inconveniences of these types of injuries, the large and unexpected expenses that come along with slip and fall injuries throw a wrench into a victim's daily life.
When it comes to slip and falls that affect elderly people, the financial stress is much greater. According to the same CDC study, falls among adults age 65 or older cost about $50 billion in medical costs for non-fatal fall injuries. Another $754 million is spent for falls that result in death.
When you take slip and fall costs on the whole (without including the elderly), Americans spend more than $34 billion each year on medical-related expenses.
If someone else’s negligence caused your slip and fall injury or caused a loved one to be seriously injured or lose their life because of a fall, you don’t have to shoulder the burden yourself.
Abels & Annes has decades of experience handling slip and fall cases and can help you to navigate your Waukegan injury claim in a timely, efficient, and effective manner.
Common Causes of Slips and Falls
Each year, a wide range of causes lead to 8 million slip and fall related emergency room visits. These ER visits stem from falls caused by:
- Wet or slick surfaces
- Poorly constructed stairwells
- Loose floorboards
- Broken stairs
- Uneven pavement
- Poorly lit areas
- Lack of handrails
- Boxes and pallets left in aisles
- Improper workplace training
- Shortage of proper safety gear at work
- Lack of supervision in nursing homes
Proving a Slip and Fall Claim
Slip and fall cases, like all other personal injury claims, must prove certain elements in order to pursue compensation for damages. Those elements include:
Property Owner’s Duty to Maintain Reasonably Safe Conditions
There is a legal expectation that property owners take reasonable actions to keep their property in a reasonably safe condition, to fix hazards as they are made aware of them, and to alert invitees about dangers which are or should be known to the owner and aren't obvious to visitors. Some examples of reasonable actions include completing routine maintenance, cleaning up spills shortly after they happen, and adhering to capacity limits.
Did the owner or property manager know about the hazard?
It’s necessary to prove that the property owner knew about, or reasonably should have known about, the factors that caused the slip and fall accident.
Say a customer falls in a dark stairwell during an unexpected power outage. Most reasonable people would find that forgivable since the owner could not have reasonably fixed the problem right away. However, if the bulbs had been out for weeks and multiple people had complained to management that the stairwell was too dark, there is likely a strong case for negligence with the right evidence.
Taking photos of the accident scene can be extremely helpful for your claim. Statements from witnesses are also often instrumental in revealing the hazardous conditions that lead to your injury. If necessary, your slip and fall attorney can assist in getting maintenance records and surveillance footage to show how long the hazards were present.
Could the accident have been reasonably prevented?
In most situations, a fall could have been reasonably prevented if proper measures were taken to ensure safety. Unfortunately, many companies are understaffed, too busy to keep up, or forgo safety guidelines for the sake of efficiency.
Preventative measures like cleaning up spills, removing debris, and repairing a broken stair are reasonable expectations of owners and property managers.
This is not to say that property owners or managers should be expected to foresee every slip and fall accident. There are situations when prevention is in the hands of the injured party.
Did the owner or manager actually cause the conditions?
When there is proof that the owner or manager caused the hazardous conditions, it greatly strengthens a case. A good example that illustrates this point is if a store fails to fix a freezer that they know is leaking water onto the ground versus if there is water at a store’s entrance due to a customer’s spill. In the first scenario, that owner “caused” the conditions. And in the second example, the owner cannot be directly blamed for the conditions. It should be noted that places of business do have a duty to take certain reasonable steps. As with the case of a spill on the floor, a company should clean it up within a reasonable amount of time or place warning signs for customers.
Who’s at-fault for my injury?
Illinois has a doctrine of comparative negligence. That means that all parties involved in an accident can have varying degrees of fault. For instance, say a customer sustains an injury due to a fall at a local business. If the only reason the customer fell was a wet floor that was ignored for hours, there’s a good chance the business could be 100% at-fault. However, if it’s discovered that the customer was running, it’s possible that the customer could be found partially at-fault for their injury.
With comparative negligence, a person who is partially at-fault can still collect compensation. For example, if the damages total $100,000, and the other party is 90% at-fault, the amount you can collect is $90,000. However, this is only applicable up to 50% since one cannot be compensated in Illinois if they are found to be more than 50% at fault.
Illinois Slip and Fall Statute of Limitations
Under most circumstances, slip and fall victims have two years to file a claim in Illinois. The two-year period begins the day of the accident. However, this does not mean someone should wait to file a claim. It is always in your best interest to begin the injury claim process as soon as possible. Evidence becomes more challenging to gather as time goes by.
Further, slip and fall cases can be complicated. There are sometimes multiple defendants that are partially to blame. A slip and fall lawyer is not likely to take a case too close to the statute of limitations. The lawyer will want adequate time to investigate the case.
Compensation for Slip and Fall Injuries
Slip and fall injuries create both financial and personal burdens. That’s why you can collect compensation for economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages have specific, calculable costs associated with them. Examples of economic damages are:
- Medical bills for hospitalization
- Doctor visits
- Physical therapy
- Medical devices such as crutches and wheelchairs
Non-economic damages include damages like pain and suffering, emotional anguish, loss of enjoyment of activities, or worsening of prior injuries. Sometimes this whole concept is referred to simply as pain and suffering. Pain and suffering damages are not as easily recovered as economic damages. However, when they are applicable, the amount will be sorted out by your attorney and the insurance company or by a jury.
[Learn more about What To Do After a Slip and Fall]
Contact a Waukegan Slip and Fall Attorney
The Waukegan personal injury attorneys at Abels & Annes have decades of experience with slip and fall accidents. Our devoted attorneys challenge insurance companies that offer unfair settlements or deny valid claims. Our attorneys work to get the maximum compensation our clients deserve. We will complete a detailed investigation of your case to prove negligence and every adversity you’ve suffered at someone else's hand. For a free initial case evaluation, call us at 312-924-7575 or contact us online. We look forward to speaking with you.