Can You Sue Someone for Falling on Their Property?

Can You Sue Someone for Falling on Their Property?

The injuries you sustain could go far beyond a skinned knee to include broken bones, significant blood loss or a concussion. The medical bills for tests and treatment could be extensive. And, to make matters worse, you could miss an extended amount of time from work.

If you find yourself or a loved one in such a situation, you may be wondering if you can sue to recover costs. A bad fall may be just bad luck, but it may also be someone else’s responsibility, in which case, you can sue. The key is knowing the difference.

What is a “Slip and Fall?”

In simple terms, a “slip and fall” occurs when you trip, slip or fall on someone else’s property and sustain an injury. These cases generally fall under the category of “premises liability” claims and, for the property owner to be held responsible, there must be at least one dangerous condition present that directly caused the fall. Indoor dangerous conditions may include wet or uneven flooring, torn carpeting, narrow or broken stairs, poor lighting, or the presence of hazards such as unsecured cables and cords.

Dangerous outdoor conditions are similar with regards to lighting at night and broken stairs or walkways, but can also include weather-related hazards. These hazards more often occur in climates where snow and ice can cause very slippery conditions, however, rain may also create problems.

In order to have a compensable case, you must have sustained injuries and suffered financial losses that could be remedied by the courts, including lost wages, medical bills, and temporary or permanent disability accommodations.

Proving Fault

Determining who is legally responsible for your injuries is not an easy task. Each case is unique and hinges on whether the property owner took reasonable care to prevent a slip and fall, or whether you were in some way careless and caused the accident. As discussed above, you must prove that your injuries were caused by the presence of a “dangerous condition.” What is more, the property owner must have been aware of it and failed to act in a timely and appropriate manner to fix the problem.

In addition, the property owner must have been reasonably able to anticipate that the dangerous condition could cause an injury, however, at the same time, it must be a hazard that you could not have reasonably anticipated. We have the responsibility to be aware of our surroundings and avoid obvious dangers, but many are hidden and difficult to avoid if you are unfamiliar with the environment.

Comparative Negligence

In the state of Texas, one of the defenses a property owner can mount in a slip and fall case is that you are, in some way, partially responsible for the accident. If they can prove this in court, it could significantly impact your case and the amount you are awarded, if you are awarded anything at all. Your lawyer will ask questions to help determine whether you need to be concerned. Some examples of shared fault include:

  • You can be proven, through video for example, to have been distracted to what the property owner will argue was an obvious danger. Perhaps you were texting while walking or were walking backwards while talking to a couple of friends.
  • You ventured, perhaps without permission, into an area of the property where visitors were not allowed. It is important to always watch out for signage and not let your curiosity get the better of you.
  • You did not take care to avoid a hazard that was blocked off with caution tape or signs. In other words, the dangerous condition should have been obvious.

Even if you are embarrassed about your role in your injuries, it is important to be honest. Being able to weigh all the facts of the case will help your lawyer come up with the best possible plan of action.

Statute of Limitations

If you or a loved one is injured in a slip and fall accident, it is important to seek legal advice promptly. Texas has a statute of limitations of two years for personal injury in premises liability cases, which means that starting on the date the accident occurred, you have two years to file a case, after which point you will be unable to do so. It may feel overwhelming to consider contacting a lawyer while you are in the middle of a painful recovery, however, it is important to keep that time clock in mind when balancing your need to recuperate and your need to take legal action.

Seek Legal Advice

When you are ready to consider your legal options, contact us for a free consultation. Our team of trusted attorneys at GreeningLaw P.C. will bring their expertise and compassion to the table to work for you. We appreciate that you may need help before you have the money for it, which is why we work strictly on a contingency basis. We do not receive payment unless you are awarded funds. We are here for you. “We fight the legal battle, so you have time for healing and renewal.”

Hospital Falls Can be Tragic – and Preventable

Hospital Falls Can be Tragic – and Preventable

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, between 700,000 and 1 million people fall in U.S. hospitals every single year. These falls, mostly by patients who are already physically vulnerable, result in thousands of injuries and deaths. These incidents are all the more tragic because many of them – about 1/3 of hospital falls according to one study – are easily preventable.

The challenges involved in preventing hospital falls involve two main issues:

  • managing and monitoring a patient’s underlying risk factors for falling, which include difficulty walking and getting in and out of bed, confusion and disorientation, medication side effects, and the need for frequent trips to the bathroom; and
  • the physical design and environment of the hospital necessary for patient care and treatment

Given all that is involved in taking care of sick hospital patients, fall prevention can and often does fall by the wayside. But all the cutting-edge treatment and attentive care in the world can be undone by a patient slipping on a wet floor or tripping over a cord.

“Universal Fall Precautions”

Reducing the number of falls in a given hospital requires a multi-pronged effort by hospital staff in terms of training, culture, and action. But the cornerstone of hospital fall prevention programs are what the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) call “universal fall precautions.”

Universal fall precautions include:

  • familiarizing the patient with their environment
  • having the patient demonstrate call light use
  • maintaining the call light within reach
  • keeping the patient’s personal possessions within safe reach
  • having sturdy handrails in patient bathrooms, room, and hallway
  • placing the hospital bed in low position when a patient is resting in bed; raising the bed to a comfortable height when the patient is transferring out of bed
  • keeping hospital bed brakes locked
  • keeping wheelchair wheel locks in “locked” position when stationary
  • keeping nonslip, comfortable, well-fitting footwear on the patient
  • using night lights or supplemental lighting
  • keeping floor surfaces clean and dry and cleaning up all spills promptly
  • keeping patient care areas uncluttered

If a hospital fails to take adequate steps to prevent patient falls and a patient is injured as a result of a fall, they may be entitled to seek compensation from the hospital. If you’ve been injured in a slip and fall or trip and fall incident, whether in a hospital or elsewhere, please give Dallas personal injury attorney Robert Greening of Greening Law, P.C. a call at (972) 934-8900 or fill out our online form to arrange for your free initial consultation.

Getting Injured In a Hospital May Not Always Be Considered a Medical Malpractice Claim, Texas Supreme Court Says

Getting Injured In a Hospital May Not Always Be Considered a Medical Malpractice Claim, Texas Supreme Court Says
are governed by specific and complex laws that don’t apply to other types of personal injury lawsuits. Whether an injury claim is subject to those laws can have a significant impact on how the suit will proceed and how much in damages may be recovered

A recent decision by the Texas Supreme Court shows why and how the distinction between health care liability claims and personal injury lawsuits is so important.

The case of Reddic v. East Texas Medical Center involved an injury claim filed by a visitor who slipped and fell in a hospital lobby. The plaintiff’s claim was based on a premises liability theory, which is the same theory that would be used for a slip and fall that happened in a restaurant, grocery store, or any other business establishment. The fact that the fall was in a hospital was incidental and of no consequence, according to the plaintiff.

“Health Care Liability Claims” v. Premises Liability Claims

Not so, argued the hospital. The fact that the injury occurred in a health care facility was important because the claim constituted a “health care liability claim” (“HCLC”) that should be subject to the requirements and limitations of the Texas Medical Liability Act (the “Act”).

Under the Act, which is focused on medical malpractice claims, an HCLC is defined as:

“a cause of action against a health care provider or physician for treatment, lack of treatment, or other claimed departure from accepted standards of medical care, or health care, or safety or professional or administrative services directly related to health care, which proximately results in injury to or death of a claimant, whether the claimant’s claim or cause of action sounds in tort or contract.”

Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 74.001(a)(13)

Whether the plaintiff’s claim in Reddic was subject to the Act was important for a couple of reasons. One, the Act places limitations and caps on the amount of damages that can be obtained for an HCLC. Two, one of the requirements of the Act, which primarily covers medical malpractice claims, is that a plaintiff must obtain the opinion and report of a medical expert either before or within 120 days of filling suit. Since the plaintiff did obtain such a report, the suit should be dismissed, the hospital argued.

In its October decision, the Texas Supreme Court concluded that the fact that the injury occurred in a hospital did not in and of itself make the lawsuit seeking compensation a “health care liability claim” subject to the Act. While the court agreed that “floor care in an area frequented by those seeking or receiving health care is related to the provision of health care… the Act requires that for a claim to be an HCLC, it must have more of a relationship to the provision of health care than that it arises from an occurrence inside a hospital.”

To the extent that this decision limits the ability of hospitals, physicians, or other health care providers and facilities to hide behind the protections of the Medical Liability Act, it is a positive development for those who have been injured by the same types of negligent conduct that would support the recovery for damages in any other non-health care setting.

At Greening Law, P.C. in Dallas, we have extensive experience representing and obtaining compensation for individuals who have been injured in slip and fall accidents as well as medical malpractice actions. If you or a loved one has been injured in a slip and fall or because of negligently maintained property or due to medical malpractice, please give attorney Robert Greening a call at (972) 934-8900 or fill out our online form. We are ready to help you.