Therefore, a business customer who was injured as a result of a slip and fall on a foreign substance was required to prove how the foreign substance came to be on the floor and how long it had been there. Failure to meet this burden of proof meant a denial of compensation.
Fortunately, the Supreme Court of Kentucky has now taken a middle ground approach in premises liability cases, where the burden of proof is shifted to both injured party and property owner. Simply put, once the injured person proves that he or she was injured as a result of slipping on a foreign substance on a premises, the defendant property owner must present evidence that they properly maintained their premises in a safe condition, in order to defeat the plaintiff’s claim.
Most slip and fall claims involve proving the same four elements central to most negligence claims:
- Duty of Care — The property owner had a duty to either correct or warn a victim about a dangerous condition.
- Breach of Duty — The property owner failed to correct or warn a victim about a dangerous condition.
- Causation — That breach of duty caused the victim to suffer injuries.
- Damages — The injuries the victim suffered have resulted in damages.
Following any slip and fall accident, your first step should always be to seek medical care. This is true even if you do not think you were seriously injured, as some injuries involve delayed symptoms.
Slip and fall accidents can also occur on private property. In such cases, victims may be hesitant to file injury claims for fear of the financial hardship they will place on the property owners, who are often friends, family members, or neighbors.
However, most slip and fall accidents that occur on private property are covered by homeowners’ insurance. This means that any payment would most likely come from the insurance company and not out of the pocket of your friend, neighbor, or relative.
Evidence in a Slip and Fall Claim
Your medical records are vital to your premises liability claim and your ability to receive compensation for your losses.
Another important piece of evidence that victims should try to capture is photographs of the hazard that caused the fall. Whether it was a spill, a hole, or something else, get pictures before the property owner corrects the condition and the evidence is lost.
Some victims are unable to take photographs because of the need for medical care. In this case, try to have friends, family members or bystanders take pictures for you. At the scene of the accident, it can also be beneficial to get the names and phone numbers of any witnesses to your accident.
Any individuals who are willing to share their contact information could provide valuable third-party accounts of how an accident occurred. Such independent opinions can be extremely valuable when there may be a dispute between you and a property owner about liability.
You should also keep the shoes and clothing you were wearing at the time of the fall. Do not wash them, since any substances or residue could be valuable evidence about the cause of the accident.
Compensation in a Slip and Fall Claim in Kentucky
Slip and fall accidents can result in serious injuries that involve weeks, months, or even years of recovery. Some victims never fully recover and face a lifetime of disability. During this time, victims may face major medical bills while being unable to return to work. Slip and fall accidents can even be fatal.
Your attorney will work to negotiate a settlement that accounts for all of your past, present, and future losses. Unfortunately, many negligent property owners and their insurance companies initially refuse to pay injury claims or make offers for far less than what the claim is really worth.
Insurance companies may try to claim that you were at fault for your slip and fall accident. You will need to present compelling evidence that your injuries were caused by a property owner’s failure to correct or warn you about a dangerous condition.
While many cases are eventually settled, there are cases that must go to trial. When victims prevail in these cases, they may be awarded compensatory damages. Compensatory damages are usually a combination of economic damages and non-economic damages. Economic damages are tangible expenses a victim has incurred or will incur, while non-economic damages involve much more subjective types of harm.
Common economic damages may include medical bills and lost wages. Some of the most frequent noneconomic damages include disability or disfigurement, pain and suffering or even the effects suffered by a family as a result of the victim’s injury.
Kentucky is one of only 12 states in the nation that use a pure comparative fault system for negligence claims. With pure comparative fault, a plaintiff can recover from a defendant regardless of their degree of fault, but the amount rewarded is ultimately reduced by the percentage which the plaintiff’s injuries were a result of their own negligence.
Under Kentucky Revised Statute § 411.182, a jury determines both the damages the injured party is entitled to and the percentage of fault allocated to each party involved.
For example, if the injured party is awarded $100,000 for medical compensation but is found to be 15 percent at fault for their injuries, their award will be reduced by $15,000. Therefore, the injured party would ultimately receive $85,000.
Filing for Disability After a Serious Slip and Fall Accident
Some slip and fall accident victims face enormous restrictions on their work abilities because of their injuries. People who have suffered more severe and lasting injuries could be eligible for federal disability benefits.
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits are given to injured people who are unable to work for at least 12 months. In most cases, having a disabling impairment listed in the Social Security Administration (SSA) “Blue Book” is the easiest way to be approved for SSDI benefits.
Many people who do not have conditions specifically listed in the Blue Book may struggle to prove their disabling condition. The Paul Baker Law Office’s team of experienced attorneys has been handling SSDI claims for people all over Kentucky for decades.
If your slip and fall accident was serious enough to keep you out of work for one year or more, you could be entitled to SSDI benefits. Our firm has a record of helping clients prepare successful SSDI claims.
How Our Lawyers Can Help with Your Slip and Fall Claim
The first thing that the Paul Baker Law Office will be able to do is commence an independent investigation of your accident. The sooner you contact us, the quicker we can secure important evidence relating to your case.
Our investigation will help determine the actual cause of your accident as well as all of the potentially liable parties. Once we have identified the negligent parties responsible for your injuries, our attorneys can begin negotiating with the responsible insurance company.
You may be contacted by a representative of the property owner’s insurance company following your slip and fall accident. You should avoid speaking to any of these representatives until you have legal representation. Adjusters for insurance companies often act very friendly and concerned about your wellbeing, but they are generally just trying to get you to make recorded statements in which you unknowingly say something that could be twisted and used against you.
The Paul Baker Law Office can handle all communications with insurance companies on your behalf. We will immediately begin negotiating for a fair and full settlement, and we will not be afraid to file a lawsuit if the insurer refuses to provide adequate compensation.
How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Slip and Fall Lawyer?
It is easy to be overwhelmed with financial concerns if you’ve been hurt in a slip and fall accident. You may think that you cannot afford to hire an attorney.
The Paul Baker Law Office provides legal representation on a contingency fee basis. This means that you pay nothing unless and until you obtain a monetary award.
We understand the immense financial stress many victims are facing following slip and fall accidents. We do all we can to lessen the burden you bear. Our firm covers all upfront costs of your legal action and collects our fee as a percentage of your award at the conclusion of your case. That means you never pay us anything out of pocket.
Time Limits for Filing a Slip and Fall Lawsuit in Kentucky
Kentucky limits the time you have to file a slip and fall claim. Kentucky Revised Statute § 413.140(1)(a) requires that claims for personal injury be brought within one year of the date of the injuries. A single year is a very short window of time, which only highlights the importance of contacting a lawyer as soon as possible.
Insurance companies are certainly conscious of this time limit and often engage in a number of tactics that lead to victims losing valuable time. You should not wait for an insurance company to conduct its own investigation before you contact an attorney.
The statute of limitations is also one year for wrongful death claims and product liability actions. The Paul Baker Law Office understands these deadlines and makes sure legal actions are properly filed on time.
Our firm is committed to working closely with every person we represent, so you will always be up to date, and your phone calls will always be answered or promptly returned. We understand the difficulty slip and fall accident victims face in proving their injury claims and help them successfully recover all of the compensation they are entitled to.