What You Need to Know About Slip & Falls During the Winter

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Slip and falls can happen, and they can happen to anyone and at any time. They happen to be more common in the winter months thanks to wet, slippery, and icy conditions. These personal injuries are common in the elderly but can happen to anyone at any age. So, if you have been a victim of a slip and fall, what can you do?

What is a Slip & Fall

A slip and fall can lead to a personal injury case. When suffering injury from a slip and fall, you may require a premise liability lawsuit and could receive compensation since the owner of a location needs to exercise reasonable care to maintain the safety of the premises, like avoiding defective stairs and wet floor. It is necessary for owners to take precautions, communicate any unstable conditions, or be held legally accountable for any injuries from a slip and fall.

Causes of Slip & Fall

Nursing homes are a common place for slip and falls during the winter when conditions can become a safety hazard for slip and falls. You need to always be aware of your surroundings as the following could cause a slip and fall:

- Uneven pavement or stairs

- Loose flooring

- Irregular surfaces

- Slippery floors

- Insufficient lighting

- Hazardous winter conditions which may cause the flooring to be wet or  icy

A slip and fall can lead to significant injury. In fact, injuries can be minor to severe and temporary to permanent. Common injuries suffered from a slip and fall include:

- Bruises

- Cuts

- Concussions

- Broken bones

- Neck and back injuries

- Internal injuries

- Head injuries

- Death

On top of physical injuries, emotional distress and financial burdens will likely arise from a slip and fall. Medical bills could pile up and you may have to miss work, causing you to lose out on wages. A lawsuit can help you receive compensation to help with these financial burdens and hold the person responsible accountable.

Who is Responsible for Slip and Falls?

Keep in mind that a property owner isn’t always held responsible for accidents that may happen from a slip and fall on their property. Every person has a responsibility to be aware of their surroundings and know where they are going. However, you could have a legal claim on your hands if there has been negligence, and the owner of the premises has been found responsible. This is why you should always seek legal advice right away to see if you do have a personal injury case to move forward with.

Steps to Filing a Claim

After you have been injured in a slip and fall, seek medical assistance right away and report the incident to the property. After that, be sure to speak with a personal injury attorney to review your options. To determine if there is a premise liability claim, report all of the facts to your attorney. The owner of the premises or an employee must have caused a spill, worn spot, or other hazard causing dangerous locations. There could also be a case if they have known about the issue and didn’t do anything about it, or if they didn’t know, but should have known. In the case that any reasonable person would be able to discover, remove, or repair the safety hazard, a reasonable negligence claim can be filed if it has been found that the defendant didn’t do their job to make regular efforts to keep a safe environment, the lack of preventative maintenance, or if the safety hazard has been there for a long time. Would a barrier or sign prevent the slip and fall? Perhaps poor lighting was the cause. Then, you must explore the options of a personal injury lawsuit. The defendant file this within the statute of limitations. In the state of Pennsylvania, you must bring a slip and fall claim forward within 2 years of the incident. Remember the case may take some time, so remain patient. Work with an honest, skilled, and experienced lawyer, who will be able to get the case rolling and solved as quickly as possible with the outcome you deserve.

Types of Slip and Falls

When filing a personal injury claim from a slip and fall, be aware of the different types.

Trip & Fall Accidents

Trip and fall accidents occur when you trip and fall due to an obstacle in the way. All areas need to be clear of clutter, free from hazards, and safe.

Step & Fall Accidents

A step and fall accidents happen with an injury occurs from an uneven step or payment, causing you to lose balance and fall. This usually happens from cracks, broken stairs or pitted holes.

Stump & Fall Accidents

Stump and fall accidents happen when a walkway is defective, causing you to stumble and lose your balance.

Slip and falls can happen anywhere and are known to be a leading cause of death in the elderly. This is because slip and falls happen more often at nursing homes. This doesn’t mean you don’t have a case on your hands if it happened outside of a nursing home. This is especially true in winter conditions. The owner of the property still needs to be responsible for keeping premises safe, even in harsh winter weather. Whether it be by posting signs or keeping the area clear of snow and ice. If negligence has been found, you will have a strong case on your hands.

Edelstein Law Firm

At Edelstein Law Firm, we have a team of trusting lawyers that understand personal injury cases, especially slip and falls. They have the experience and skills to fight for you and get what you deserve, while holding the responsible party accountable. Edelstein Law Firm is known as  the top Philadelphia personal injury lawyer for a reason.

Edelstein Law Wins Supreme Court Case as PA. Justices Require Consent For 3rd-Party Insurance Claims

Law360 (November 21, 2018, 6:19 PM EST) -- A worker’s compensation insurer needs the consent and participation of an injured worker in order to bring claims against the parties responsible for the injury, and merely claiming a lawsuit was filed “on behalf of” the injured worker is insufficient, a split Supreme Court of Pennsylvania ruled Wednesday.

Clarifying an earlier ruling on a different case that barred independently launched subrogation actions while allowing claims properly filed on behalf of a subrogee, the 5-2 Supreme Court majority found that The Hartford Insurance Group couldn’t bring a lawsuit against the driver and rental car company that injured insured worker Chunli Chen if Chen herself had not filed claims against them or joined in Hartford’s lawsuit, since the insurer trying to subrogate and recover some of what it paid Chen was effectively preventing Chen from filing her own actions against the defendants.

“Sanctioning a workers’ compensation carrier to pursue litigation of the injured employee merely by captioning the complaint as ‘on behalf of’ the employee and including a bald assertion seeking any recovery due the employee, contravenes the very jurisprudence establishing that it is the injured worker who retains the cause of action,” wrote Justice Max Baer in the majority’s opinion. “Absent the injured employee’s assignment or voluntary participation as a party plaintiff, the insurer may not enforce its … right to subrogation by filing an action directly against the tortfeasor.”

The court majority reiterated and clarified the precedent it had set in the 2015 case of Liberty Mutual Insurance v. Domtar Paper , noting that even if the insurer were filing the suit “on behalf of” Chen and seeking to establish the defendants’ liability to her, the point of Pennsylvania’s Workers’ Compensation Act was to first serve the injured worker and give her the right to file any lawsuits, which would be precluded by allowing insurers to independently sue since the law doesn’t allow for the same damages to be recovered twice by different parties.

“Granting an employer an independent cause of action against the tortfeasor would impermissibly split the employee’s cause of action, thereby subjecting the tortfeasor to multiple suits for the same harm,” the opinion says.

The decision overturned a Superior Court ruling and upheld the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas’ ruling that had tossed the case on the defendants’ preliminary objections, which cited the Domtar Paper case and said The Hartford couldn’t bring the case against them without Chen.

One day in October 2013, Chen was waiting to rent a vehicle in the parking lot of a Thrifty Car Rental when she was struck and injured by a vehicle driven by defendant Kafumba Kamara.

Both the defendants and the Pennsylvania Association for Justice, which filed an amicus brief for them, said the insurer could not independently sue regardless of whether it was filing the suit “as a subrogee of” or “on behalf of” Chen.

The Hartford countered that its lawsuit was still preserving Chen’s independent claims and she could still elect to join it, and it noted that while it would need her cooperation during discovery and her testimony at trial, her participation was not needed when it came to filing the lawsuit.

In a pair of dissenting opinions, Chief Justice Thomas G. Saylor and Justice Debra Todd reiterated why they had also dissented in the Domtar Paper case, saying it had limited a longstanding precedent allowing employers to sue in their employees’ name.

Though the majority had noted that letting insurers sue on employees’ behalf could preclude their rights to sue independently, Justice Saylor said the court could dictate procedures for notifying employees and giving them the opportunity to participate so those rights could be preserved.

Justice Todd joined Justice Saylor’s dissent and added her own, saying that the majority ruling tied the hands of insurers whose clients chose not to sue and left them without a way to recover their costs.

“It leaves an insurer which has paid an injured employee’s workers’ compensation claim arising out of the tortious actions of a third party without a means to enforce its statutory right to subrogation against the third party in situations such as this one, where the injured employee elects, for whatever reason, not to pursue a tort action against the third party,” Justice Todd wrote. “This, in turn, will unavoidably, and unnecessarily, lead to higher workers’ compensation insurance rates.”

Since it decided the case based solely on whether Domtar Paper applied, the Supreme Court did not weigh the second question in the appeal, which was whether the insurance company could have one of its employees verify the complaint instead of Chen.

“We are extremely pleased with the high court’s ruling, in particular its strict adherence to the precedent it established in Domtar,” said Christopher N. Leeds of Edelstein Law LLP, who represented the defendants.

David R. Kunz of Kunz & Germick, representing The Hartford, said that despite losing the appeal, he was grateful for the clarity it provided his client, which could now avoid litigating other cases the same way as Chen’s and fighting to preserve them in preliminary objections.

David C. Harrison of the Pennsylvania Association for Justice said he was happy the court recognized the risk to injured workers if insurers were able to sue without including them — and without even notifying them that they were suing. Since subrogation claims don’t include damages for a plaintiff’s pain and suffering, the insurer could theoretically settle with a defendant for less money, and the injured party would then be blocked from recovering the rest, he said.

“It’s a good opinion and I agree with it,” Harrison said. “I’m glad the court is recognizing the danger and sympathizing with the injured parties.”

The Pennsylvania Association for Justice is represented by David C. Harrison.

The Hartford Insurance Group is represented by David R. Kunz of Kunz & Germick.

Kamara, Thrifty Car Rental and Rental Car Finance Group are represented by Jay L. Edelstein and Christopher N. Leeds of Edelstein Law LLP..

The case is The Hartford Insurance Group on behalf of Chunli Chen v. Kamara et al., case number 24 EAP 2017, in the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.

--Editing by Adam LoBelia.

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