Slip and fall incidents are among the leading causes of accidental injury in the country, according to the National Safety Council. Such accidents can result in thousands of dollars in medical bills, lost wages and other injury-related expenses.

You may have the right to seek reimbursement for these expenses as well as compensation for the inconvenience, pain, or disability experienced if you have suffered injury in a slip and fall that occurred on another person’s property  Below, we’ve provided an outline of some of the most pertinent aspects of slip and fall accidents that occur in Washington.

Facts about Slip and Fall Accidents in America

The NFSI, an educational and research non-profit organization, provides statistical information about slip and fall accidents that point to the magnitude of the issue. Below are a few highlights.

  • Slip and fall injuries are the number-one cause of lost work days.
  • The incidence of falls increases with each decade of life.
  • Nearly one quarter of slip and fall accidents result in more than a month or more of disability.
  • Sectors that have the most fatal slip and fall accidents include construction, mining and maintenance activities.
  • One of the most common types of injuries from slip and fall accidents are fractures. Tailbone, vertebra, skull, hand and hip fractures are some of the most common.
  • Most accidental deaths in a home are caused by slips and falls.

What must I prove in a slip and fall action?

A slip and fall claim is based on the legal principle of negligence. You must be able to prove a property owner or occupier was negligent in his or her actions and that those negligent actions caused the accident in which you were injured..

To recover for another person’s negligence, an injured person typically must prove four things:

  • The owner owed you a duty of care – This means that the owner of the property had a legal responsibility that he or she owed to you.  For instance, a business owner typically will have a legal obligation to his/her customers to maintain a reasonably safe premises.  The legal obligation owed to an injured person typically depends on the reason why the person was on the property at the time of the slip and fall—for example, the legal obligation owed to a business customer is different from the legal obligation owed to a trespasser.
  • The owner violated the duty of care – This means that the owner failed to meet the legal obligation owed to you.  An example may be if a business owner fails  to keep the  business premises in a reasonably safe condition.
  • The violation caused your accident – As the injured person, you must show that the owner’s failure to meet his/her legal obligation caused the slip and fall.
  • You suffered damages as a result of the accident –This may include hospital bills, treatment expenses, lost wages, as well as, harms without a price tag, such as disability or inconvenience and more.

How much time do I have to file a slip and fall claim in Washington State?

Washington provides time limitations on legal claims called statute of limitations.  A claim filed after the time limitation will likely be dismissed and an injured person will not recover any compensation.  The statute of limitations for a slip and fall claim is outlined in chapter 4, section 16 of the Revised Code of Washington (RCW) and provides an injured person with three years from the date of the accident to take file a legal action.  However, depending on the identity of the owner or occupier, there may be other time limitations imposed.  If you believe you have a legal claim, you should always promptly discuss the claim with an attorney. 

What are the potential damages in a slip and fall claim?

Washington allows an injured person to recover both economic and non-economic damages in a slip and fall case.  These damages are intended to place you back in the position you were in prior to experiencing the harm as a result of another person’ s negligence.   Often, these recoverable damages will include:

  • medical expenses (doctor bills, physical therapy and more);
  • lost income;
  • pain and suffering; and
  • other out-of-pocket costs.

What evidence is necessary for a slip and fall claim?

Every case is different and the evidence needed to prove a claim will depend on the circumstances of a particular case. Evidence that may help prove a case will often include:

  • photos of the accident scene (particularly those showing a hazard, such as broken steps or a spilled liquid);
  • surveillance footage;
  • witness statements;
  • other evidence that tends to show the owner knew about the hazard that caused the slip and fall

A personal injury lawyer may help secure particularly difficult-to-obtain evidence, such as surveillance footage or building maintenance records.

Can you recover damages from a slip and fall accident?

Whether or not you can get reimbursed for you damages depends on several factors, one of which is where your injury occurred.

  • Home – If the accident occurred on your own property, you likely will be able to use only your own insurance plans to cover your losses, such as health insurance and disability insurance. However, if your fall occurred because of a defective product or part, you might be able to recover your losses in a defective product claim.
  • Work – If your injury occurred at work, you likely will qualify for workers’ compensation, but it’s highly advisable to discuss your case with a liability attorney because there may be better forms of recompense available.
  • Others’ property – If you slipped and fell on another person’s property, at a business or at a public venue, you might have an alternative course of action to take to recover your losses. If your situation meets all the necessary legal requirements, you may be able to file what’s referred to as a premises liability claim to seek compensation for your injuries.

Premises liability slip and fall claims are based on the fact that property owners have a legal responsibility to ensure their grounds are reasonably safe so that no one gets injured. They are required to fix any known hazards or at least adequately warn visitors of the hazard. If the floor is wet, they need to put up signage; if there is a broken handrail on the stairs, they need to fix it. If they fail to do so, it’s considered negligence, and they could be held liable and be ordered to pay damages.

The first step of pursuing a settlement for your accident is to consult a reputable slip and fall accident attorney. He or she will be able to review the facts of your case, determine if there is a party that can be held liable and explain the appropriate legal action to take.

Types of Damages You Can Recover on a Claim

There are numerous types of damages that may be compensable on your claim. Below are just a few examples. (You will want an attorney to calculate the actual value of your claim.)

  • Medical expenses (both current and future)
  • Rehabilitation
  • Lost wages during your time of infirmary
  • Loss of benefits
  • Pain and suffering
  • The cost of hiring someone to perform normal household duties
  • Various damages for catastrophic injuries, such as lost enjoyment in life, damaged relationships, and loss of promotion or employability
  • The cost of renovating your home to accommodate a permanent disability
  • Emotional damages such as post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Death benefits

I want to know more about my options. What is my next step?

The team at Deno Millikan Law Firm offers free case evaluations to those who have suffered injury in a slip and fall accident. The information provided on this page only summarizes general concepts and you are strongly encouraged to speak with a qualified attorney at our firm to discuss the particular facts of your case.  Take advantage of this opportunity to learn more about your options and legal rights. Call (425) 259-2222 or contact us online.

An estimated 1 million people visit the emergency room each year for slip and fall injuries, reports the National Floor Safety Institute (NFSI). Slip and fall accidents are common among older adults and healthcare workers, but they can happen to anyone at any time. Injuries range from slight (e.g., bruises, scrapes, pulled muscles, etc.) to severe (fractures, traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, etc.). Talk to a qualified slip and fall attorney to discuss whether you qualify for financial compensation.