If you are hurt in a slip-and-fall accident, you may be entitled to file a personal injury lawsuit against those responsible for your injury. But you must act quickly to protect your right to compensation.
Under the statute of limitations in New York, you must file your suit within three years of the date of your accident. If the party responsible for your fall was a government agency, you need to act even faster. In New York City, you have 90 days after the accident in which to file a notice of a claim against a government entity. You then have 1 year and 90 days in which to file your actual lawsuit.
Slip-and-Fall Accidents Can Happen Anywhere
Slip-and-fall accidents are among the most common causes of personal injury lawsuits. Falls are the leading cause of nonfatal accidental injuries treated in emergency departments. In one recent year, more than 9.2 million people were treated in emergency rooms for injuries sustained in falls, according to data compiled by the National Safety Council.
Falls can occur anywhere but happen frequently in doorways, on ramps, in cluttered hallways and in areas with heavy traffic. People can fall because of uneven or slippery surfaces, unguarded heights, unstable work surfaces, unsteady ladders and stairway hazards.
What to Do If You Are Hurt in a Fall
Here are steps you should take to safeguard your legal rights if you are injured in a fall:
- Seek medical treatment. The first and most important thing you should do is get medical care. If you cannot move, ask for help. Medical records provide crucial documentation about your injury. Failure to seek timely medical care may weaken your ability to get compensation.
- Document the scene. Take photographs of the accident location immediately after you fall, and make sure the photos are date-stamped. If you are with friends or family, ask them to take pictures for you. Trip-and- fall accidents can be difficult to prove without pictures of the hazardous conditions that caused your injury. Take photos of holes in the sidewalk, uneven surfaces, ice, water or any other hazards in the location where you fell. Also take pictures of the surrounding area to document the lack of warning signs, barricades or fluorescent paint.
- Notify the property owner or manager. Make sure you contact the property owner or manager as soon as possible after the fall. This will not only protect others who walk in the area, but also create an incident report for your case. Filing a timely claim with the property owner and the owner’s insurance carrier can help you secure damages.
- Keep records. To document your injury and its effect on your life, should:
- Get the names and phone numbers of any witnesses.
- Write your own accident report, recalling as many details as you can remember while it is still fresh in your mind.
- Store in a safe place the clothing and shoes you were wearing when you fell. Do not wash them first.
- Keep a diary of your pain and suffering and document your doctor’s appointments, time out of work and other ways your fall has affected you.