St. Louis Slip & Fall Lawyer

St. Louis Slip & Fall Lawyer image

Did you suffer a broken bone, sprain, head injury or other harm after a slip/trip and fall accident in St. Louis? Talk to a slip and fall attorney about your case at Goldblatt + Singer. Slip, trip, and fall accidents are some of the most common causes of unintentional injuries in the country. According to the National Floor Safety Institute, falls account for more than 8 million trips to the emergency room each year. Nearly one million of these incidents stem from slip and falls alone. If you or a loved one suffered any kind of injury in a bad fall in St. Louis, contact our fall accident lawyers for assistance.

Table Of Contents

    Slip and Fall Accident Claims in St. Louis

    Slip, trip, and fall accidents take the form of premises liability claims in Missouri. The law holds property owners legally responsible for the safety of their premises, including finding and remedying potential slip or trip hazards. Property owners owe certain duties of care to all who enter the land – even to trespassers if they are under the age of 18 in Missouri. An owner’s duties of care vary according to the status of the visitor. Three main types of visitors exist:

    • Invitees are persons the property owner expressly or implicitly invites to enter a property, such as shoppers at a business. They require the highest standards of care. Property owners must reasonably search for hidden hazards (such as hidden sprinkler heads that could cause trip accidents), repair obvious hazards and warn of potential hazards (such as putting up “Slippery When Wet” signs).
    • Licensees also have the owner’s permission to enter a property, but they do so for their own purposes. Door-to-door salespeople are examples of licensees. Licensees carry the same property owner duties of care as invitees, minus the requirement to search for hidden hazards. Property owners must still make sure that no slip or trip hazards exist on a property before allowing licensees to enter.
    • Trespassers do not have the property owner’s permission to enter the property, but do so anyway, therefore breaking the law. In Missouri, property owners do not owe any duties of care to trespassers. An injured trespasser could not, for example, hold a landowner responsible for injuries from tripping over debris in the yard. Trespassing children are exemptions from the law and require the same level of care as invitees.

    To have a premises liability claim against a landowner, company or another party in Missouri after a slip and fall or trip and fall, you must first identify your status as a visitor. Then, you must analyze whether the property owner in charge of maintaining the premises fulfilled his or her duties to you according to your classification. If not, you likely have grounds to file a fall-related personal injury claim against the owner. The legal team at Goldblatt + Singer can help you with every element of your claim from beginning to end.

    Common Slip and Fall Injuries in St. Louis

    Falls are a leading cause of severe injuries and fatalities. When victims survive, they must often live with life-changing repercussions. Common injuries include:

    Head and Brain Injuries

    Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are most often caused by falls. They can range from mild to severe, but victims may be left with permanent impairments.

    Shoulder Injuries

    The impact of a fall can jolt the shoulder, often leading to dislocations or brachial plexus injury, which can cause pain, weakness, and numbness in the arm and hand.

    Neck and Back Injuries

    Muscle strains and sprains, compression fractures, herniated discs, tailbone injuries, and spinal cord injuries (SCIs) are common in slip and fall accidents. If a victim suffers a serious SCI, they may experience varying degrees of paralysis and loss of sensation below the level of damage.

    Broken Bones

    Severe bone fractures often affect the wrists, ankles, and especially the hips.

    Hip Injuries

    Over 95 percent of broken hips are caused by falls, according to the CDC. The elderly are at particular risk of this type of injury.

    Sprains and Strains

    Sprains and strains in the soft tissue of the legs, ankles, arms, hands, or wrists are very common.

    Who Is Liable in a St. Louis Slip and Fall Claim

    The party liable in a St. Louis slip and fall claim will depend on where your accident occurred. Slip and fall accident cases fall under premises liability laws. These laws hold property owners accountable for ensuring visitors are reasonably safe. For example, under premises liability law, many owners must:

    • Warn of known hazards (e.g., wet floors, broken steps, etc.)
    • Ensure that hazards are taken care of quickly and efficiently
    • Maintain the premises to keep it free of potential dangers
    • Regularly inspect the property for hazards

    When a property owner or manager fails in their duty, they can be held accountable for resulting injuries. Some examples of potential parties include the following:

    Business Owners

    Business owners owe visitors a higher duty of care. They are responsible for regularly inspecting the premises for hazards, and as soon as they are made aware of a potential risk, it must be corrected or warned of as quickly as possible. Therefore, if a slip and fall were to occur due to their negligence in maintaining the premises, the business’s owner would be liable for your slip and fall.

    Private Property Owners

    Private property owners owe a lower duty of care to keep visitors reasonably safe. Since their property is for non-business purposes, property owners do not have to regularly inspect for hazards but must fix identified dangers within a reasonable amount of time or warn visitors of them. If a private property owner is aware of a hazard or should have been knowledgeable and failed to fix it within a reasonable amount of time or alert you, they would be liable for a slip and fall.

    Government Agencies

    A government agency may be liable if you have a slip and fall caused by a dangerous condition on government property. To pursue a case against a government agency or employee in Missouri, you must first file a claim with the Office of Administration’s Risk Management Division within 90 days of the injury. The government will then review your notice of claim and determine whether to pay it.

    Employers

    Many slip and fall accidents happen while at work. When a worker is injured on the job, they are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. However, sometimes a third party is also liable. In these cases, you can pursue a slip and fall claim against the third party in addition to your workers’ comp claim.

    What Must I Prove to Win a Slip and Fall Case in St. Louis?

    To hold a property owner liable after a slip and fall accident, you must prove their negligence was the cause. Demonstrating a property owner’s negligence can be challenging as it requires evidence that a dangerous condition existed and either the owner knew or should have known about it and failed to fix it. You must also be able to establish the following four elements of negligence:

    Duty

    The property owner owed you a duty of care to keep their premises safe. For the property owner to owe you a duty of care, you must have been permitted to be on the property. For example, an invited guest, a customer at a retail store, etc. Trespassers are not owed any duty of care except in very limited circumstances.

    Breach

    The property owner failed to keep their premises reasonably safe for visitors. They either knew or should have known that a dangerous condition existed for a sufficient period of time before the accident occurred.

    Causation

    The owner’s failure to reasonably maintain the premises contributed to your slip and fall accident. There must be a clear link between the property hazard and your slip and fall accident. In other words, you would not have been injured if the property owner had fixed or warned you of the danger. The court will examine whether the owner acted as a reasonably prudent person would have when in the same circumstances. To do so, factors, such as the following, will be considered:

    • Was the hazardous condition or obstacle present long enough for a reasonable property owner to have seen and eliminated the hazard?
    • Was there a routine for checking for potential property hazards, and was it completed prior to the slip and fall accident?
    • Was there a justifiable reason for the potentially dangerous condition to exist?
    • Could preventative measures have been taken to make the condition less hazardous, such as a warning sign for visitors?
    • Did poor visibility or lighting play a role?

    To shift liability, a property owner or their insurance carrier will likely argue that you share or are entirely at fault for the slip and fall.

    Damages

    Proof you sustained damages (losses) due to your slip and fall accident. For example, medical bills, lost income, emotional distress, mental anguish, pain and suffering, etc.

    What Compensation Can I Recover For My Slip and Fall Injuries in St. Louis, MO?

    After a slip and fall accident in St. Louis, MO, victims may be able to recover the following types of compensation:

    Current and Future Medical Expenses

    That includes emergency transportation and care, hospitalizations, surgeries, doctor visits, prescription medications, physical and rehabilitative therapy, in-home care, and any other injury-related medical care expenses, including anticipated future treatment.

    Current and Future Lost Income

    You have the right to recover your current lost wages and the income you are likely to lose in the future while recovering. In addition, if you cannot earn the same income or must go into a different line of work because of your injury, you may also be able to obtain compensation for diminished earning capacity.

    Property Damage

    Reimbursement for the repair or replacement of any items that were damaged in your fall accident. For example, your phone, jewelry, clothing, purse, backpack, laptop, etc.

    Pain and Suffering

    Compensation for physical pain and/or emotional distress (e.g., loss of enjoyment of life, depression, anxiety, etc.). Since these losses are not calculable, different factors are considered to estimate their worth. For instance, the severity of your injuries, their impact on your life, your age, your age, and health before the accident, any pre-existing injuries, the degree of the property owner’s negligence, and more.

    What Are Common Causes of Slip and Fall Injuries in St. Louis?

    Negligent property maintenance is a common cause of slip and fall injuries in St. Louis. Claims commonly arise from:

    • Broken railings
    • Worn and uneven flooring
    • Crumbling steps
    • Slippery conditions due to spilled liquids, leaky coolers, and recently mopped floors.
    • Poor lighting obscuring potential hazards
    • Debris or loose materials in a walkway
    • Damaged walkways or parking lots
    • Potholes, pits, or other open holes
    • Inaccurate stacking or securing of inventory
    • Escalator failure
    • Elevator malfunction

    A brief fall can be all that is needed to cause a traumatic brain injury, break a bone, or damage the spine.

    What Are the Slip and Fall Statutes in Missouri?

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    Anyone who owns property in Missouri has an obligation to keep visitors safe. However, the degree to which they must protect guests from harm depends on the person’s status. Missouri law divides visitors into three main classifications:

    • Invitee: an individual who visits a property for business purposes. For example, shopping in a retail or grocery store. Property owners owe the highest duty of care to invitees. The premises must be regularly inspected for hazards and potential dangers; if any are found, they must be corrected as soon as possible.
    • Licensee: an individual to visit a property for non-business purposes. For example, visiting a friend’s home. Property owners are not required to inspect their property for licensees but must warn of known hazards or ones they should have been aware of.
    • Trespasser: an individual who is not allowed on a property. In this case, owners do not owe a duty of care to trespassers and will not be liable for a slip and fall injury.

    Although property owners do not owe trespassers a duty of care, they can be held liable for an injury to a trespassing child. Under the state’s law of attractive nuisance, property owners must take adequate safety measures to decrease the risk of a child wandering onto their property and getting hurt. For example, installing a fence or gate around a swimming pool.

    Proving Your Trip and Fall Claim

    Unfortunately for actual victims of slip, trip and fall accidents, thousands of fraudulent insurance claims over the years have made these cases somewhat difficult to prove. It’s important to hire an attorney to maximize your odds of success, especially if going up against a major company’s insurer, such as Walmart or Lowe’s. Large corporations have plenty of money and resources to throw at personal injury lawsuits, often resulting in accident victims agreeing to smaller settlements than they should.

    To prove your slip, trip and fall claim, you will need to collect evidence that the property owner owed you a duty of care, neglected to fulfill this duty and thereby caused your accident and related injuries. Prepare for the property owner to try to allege your shared fault for the accident. For instance, the defendant might try to lower his/her liability for the incident by stating that you weren’t watching where you were going. It takes an experienced slip and fall lawyer to combat this common defense and maximize compensation despite Missouri’s shared fault laws. To work with top trip and fall attorneys in St. Louis, contact Goldblatt + Singer today.

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