Pittsburgh Slip And Fall Accident Attorneys
The National Floor Safety Institute (NFSI) states that slips and falls account for over 1 million hospital emergency room visits per year. They also represent the primary cause of lost days from work and are the leading cause of occupational injury for people aged 55 and older.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that in 2018, falls, slips, and trips resulted in six fatal workplace injuries in Pittsburgh, accounting for 26 percent of all workplace fatalities in the area.
Most slip and fall injuries are preventable. Employers and property owners are responsible for properly maintaining surfaces, walkways, and flooring. If they are negligent in these duties and you are hurt because of it, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
The Pittsburgh slip and fall accident lawyers at Chaffin Luhana represent individuals in premise liability claims, including those involving slip and fall accidents. Give our experienced Pittsburgh fall accident attorneys call today to schedule a complimentary consultation at 1-888-480-1123.
Common Causes of Slip and Fall Accidents in Pittsburgh
Slip and fall situations for which you may be able to hold someone legally responsible include the following.
Wet surfaces both inside and outside of a facility or workplace pose a serious slip and fall hazard. Property owners and employers should address them quickly, cleaning up spills and keeping equipment and supplies needed to do so readily available.
Premises owners are required to provide adequate lighting in and around their property and in parking lots to help prevent slips and falls. Particularly in stairways or curbs, it can be easy for a person to stumble or walk into an object if the area is not well lit.
Owners should install appropriately located light switches and motion lighting where necessary. They should also have generators or battery-powered lighting available as a backup to prevent accidents.
Unsecured Throw Rugs or Torn, Uneven Carpets
In a 2013 study, researchers found that an estimated 37,991 adults age 65 years and older were treated in U.S. emergency departments for falls associated with carpets (54.2 percent) and rugs (45.8 percent). Frequent fall injuries occurred at the transition between carpet/rug and non-carpet/rug and on wet carpets or rugs.
Loose carpeting and rugs can slip out of place, causing a person to lose their footing. Uneven sections of carpet, as well, can lead to a tripping hazard. Property owners need to fix these uneven surfaces as quickly as possible while making sure that throw rugs are properly secured to the floor.
Unsafe Stairway or Stair Railing
Stairs present several additional dangers that property owners need to be aware of. The surface may be worn or torn. Loose edges and broken materials can make them unsafe. Something may have been spilled or dropped on the stairs, creating additional hazards.
The wood or carpet may be worn and dangerous. Outdoor stairs can be icy and slippery. The step height may be uneven, or too steep. The stairway may lack adequate lighting or signs alerting users to potential hazards. Some stairways lack the appropriate handrails. All of these issues may make a property owner liable for someone’s injury on the stairs.
Broken Elevator or Escalator
Millions of people use escalators and elevators every day in stores, hospitals, shopping malls, office buildings, apartment buildings, and more. Property owners are responsible for maintaining this equipment because if they don’t, accidents are more likely to occur.
If you slip and fall on an escalator or elevator, you may have a liability claim if:
- The owner failed to regularly inspect and maintain these devices
- The handrails or steps were defective or damaged
- The bottom of the elevator or escalator stair didn’t line up properly with the floor’s surface
- There were sudden jolts or fast drops that occurred because of poor maintenance or faulty parts
- A spill on the surface was not promptly cleaned
Property owners, employers, and cities must regularly clean off and de-ice any walkways around their premises or businesses. If you slip and fall on an icy public street or sidewalk, the city may be liable for your injuries.
When it comes to residential properties, natural accumulations of snow and ice don’t generally create liability for a home or business owner. In some areas, though, local ordinances may require owners to shovel and treat icy conditions within a reasonable amount of time. If they don’t comply, they may be held liable for any injuries that occur as well.
Unsafe Amusement Park Rides
Accidents at amusement parks may occur for a variety of reasons. Park owners must help prevent them by keeping walkways dry, posting warning signs, placing non-slip material where needed, having appropriate lighting, and installing the proper restraints on rides.
Because water can so easily cause a surface to be slippery, water parks can be particularly hazardous when it comes to slip-and-fall injuries.
Improper Concrete Maintenance
The National Safety Council (NSC) notes that improper maintenance and care of floors is a primary reason for slip and fall injuries. If a walkway or sidewalk is uneven or has an uplift, it presents a hazard that can easily cause an accident. Some types of treatment for cement can also make it slippery, and if the premises owner doesn’t warn about the hazard or place anti-slip conditioners on the floor, they may be held liable if someone gets hurt.
Loose Electrical Cords
Loose cords and cables placed across walking paths can easily cause a slip and fall accident. Many workplaces have electrical cords connected to machines, and if these are trailed across a walkway, workers may not see them. To prevent accidents, premises owners should use cord covers, route cables along walls or under raised floors, or tie the cords up and off of the floors.
Injuries Caused by Slip and Fall Accidents in Pittsburgh
Slip and fall accidents can cause a wide variety of injuries, including the following:
- Sprains and strains: These often occur when victims try to prevent or cushion their fall.
- Cuts, bruises & contusions: These may not be serious injuries, but they may still be enough to count as a significant loss.
- Fractures: Bracing for a fall, falling over an object, or falling hard can all cause broken bones, sometimes to the fingers, hands, and wrists, or possibly to the hip or knee.
- Abrasions and lacerations: A victim falling against something rough may scratch or tear the skin.
- Soft tissue injuries: These include tears to muscles, tendons, and ligaments, and may require weeks of therapy to heal.
- Knee damage: A person may twist or hit their knee on the fall, tear a ligament, or dislocate the patella.
- Shoulder dislocations: If the victim lands on their shoulder, or reaches out to stop the fall, shoulder dislocations and strains may occur. These can require surgery.
- Spine and nerve damage: Direct trauma to the spine—caused by landing on one’s back, neck, or seat—can cause nerve damage or disc problems that can lead to lasting pain and injury.
- Traumatic brain injury: If a victim’s head impacts something in the fall, or if the brain receives a powerful jolt, the brain may be injured.
How to Select a Slip and Fall Attorney in Pittsburgh
When looking for the best slip and fall attorney in Pittsburgh, ask yourself the following questions:
Do They Have the Experience You Need?
Many lawyers handle a wide range of different personal injury cases, and some may not have much experience in slip and fall claims. You want a firm that understands the legalities of these cases, as they are unique. Ask whether the firm has experience in cases like yours.
Have They Been Successful?
Experience is one thing—successful outcomes are another. In addition to finding an experienced firm, look for one that can provide testimonials or references that show their successes. Ask about the outcomes of other slip and fall cases. Did the case have to go to trial? What was the verdict? What about before-trial settlements?
Can They Go to Trial If You Need Them To?
Though most slip and fall cases settle out of court, sometimes the parties can’t agree. At that point, to best serve your interests, you need a lawyer who is experienced in the courtroom, and can represent you well in a hearing. Sometimes the reputation of a good lawyer is all you need to avoid going to court, as the opposing party will be aware of their expertise.
Most slip and fall lawyers offer a complimentary consultation before taking your case. This is a great opportunity for you to find out whether the lawyer is the right one for you.
Some good questions to ask include:
- How many years have you been handling slip and fall claims?
- Can you provide me with references and/or testimonials from former clients who had cases like mine?
- Would you explain to me how a slip and fall claim proceeds through the legal system?
- Can you represent me through the entire process, even if we have to go to court?
- What steps do you take to settle a claim before going to court?
- How do your attorney’s fees work?
- Can you tell me the strengths and weaknesses of my case?
What Our Clients Have to Say About Chaffin Luhana
Below is a small sampling of the recent reviews we have received from our clients:
Find more testimonials here.
Dedication to Community
Law partners Eric Chaffin and Roopal Luhana, along with their families, established The Chaffin Luhana Foundation in 2010.
A not-for-profit organization, the Foundation encourages the development of human potential and supports community empowerment through the following activities:
- Scholarships: Chaffin Luhana Foundation awards an annual scholarship to a student who helps us in the fight against distracted driving by submitting an inspiring personal essay.
- Financial gifts: The Foundation awards periodic financial gifts to institutions of higher learning to support scientific research and funds educational scholarships to students.
- Stephanie Victor Legacy Award: The Chaffin Luhana Foundation awards an annual financial gift to one deserving individual who overcame significant challenges and achieved great milestones in his or her life or career.
- Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation: Chaffin Luhana has partnered with this organization to benefit those living with spinal cord injuries and paralysis.
- Najee Harris Partnership: We have partnered with Pittsburgh Running Back, Najee Harris, and his Da’ Bigger Picture Foundation to support those in need in the Greater Pittsburgh area.
The founding partners of Chaffin Luhana have extensive experience in fighting for plaintiffs’ rights:
- Founder Eric Chaffin: Mr. Chaffin has handled a wide array of cases against various types of manufacturers, with dozens of multimillion-dollar recoveries.
- Founder Roopal Luhana: Ms. Luhana manages the firm’s mass torts division. Throughout her career, she has served on committees in MDLs involving over-the-counter consumer products and defective pharmaceuticals and medical devices.
- Partner Patrick Booth: Mr. Booth enjoys using his knowledge and experience to help his clients obtain the best results possible in their personal injury cases.
Chaffin Luhana lawyers have also been named to the prestigious “Super Lawyers” list several years in a row.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
After you talk to your slip and fall accident lawyer in Pittsburgh, they will likely take the following actions:
- Investigate your case: This involves gathering information on your injury (medical records) and on the property where it occurred. It may also involve investigating the property owner for any past issues with liability and safety.
- Determine whether the accident was preventable: In a slip and fall case, you must be able to prove that the accident was preventable and that the property owner failed to take the proper steps to ensure your safety. Your attorney will investigate the circumstances of the accident to see if the owner acted responsibly or failed to adequately maintain the area.
- Determine if the owner caused the accident: This is the most difficult part to prove: was the property owner truly negligent? The attorney will use their knowledge of Pennsylvania law to determine this.
- Document everything: It’s important to have documents including medical records, witness information and statements, photographs, video, and more to substantiate a case.
- File the paperwork: Your attorney will take care of handling all the complex paperwork that is involved with a slip and fall claim. They will also make sure that the appropriate forms are filed on time.
- Negotiate with the insurance company and other parties: Finally, your lawyer will be the one to negotiate with the other party’s insurance company to negotiate a settlement. They will prevent you from accepting an unfair settlement, and make sure that you are compensated fairly. If negotiations fail, they will represent you in court.
As mentioned above, slip and fall accidents can happen for many reasons. The floor may be uneven or worn. The owner may have failed to clear ice off the sidewalk. There may be poor lighting present or obstacles in the way. Someone may have spilled something on the floor, making it slippery.
Whatever the case may be, the property owner may be found to be negligent, whereupon they would owe you compensation for your medical expenses and potentially for other damages as well.
If a person or a business is to be considered legally responsible for the injured person’s slip and fall, one or more of the following conditions for liability have to be met:
- The owner or an employee caused the situation that led to a slip and fall accident
- The owner or employee knew about the danger but failed to correct it
- The owner or employee failed to correct a situation that any reasonable person would consider dangerous
In addition, you must be able to show that:
- The other party owned, operated, controlled, or leased the property in question
- You were injured
- Those injuries were the direct result of the other party’s negligence
Potentially liable parties may include:
- Property owners: This includes those who own a workspace, business, or living complex.
- Companies and contractors: If it is determined that the company, architect, engineer, or contractor performed defective work that led to the slip and fall injury, they may share in liability.
- Designers and manufacturers of building materials or components: If your slip and fall attorney determines that a faulty building component caused your injury, you may be able to include the manufacturer or designer in your claim.
- Property management or maintenance contactors: These can include snow and ice removal contractors or management companies hired for commercial properties.
The property owner or other party may try to get out of a claim by arguing that the slip and fall injury was your fault.
In Pennsylvania, the law says that you are allowed to recover compensation for your injuries even if you are partly at fault for the accident. This is called “contributory negligence.” Depending on your degree of shared fault, however, your ability to recover damages may be reduced or limited.
If you were found to be more than 50 percent at fault, your are not entitled to recover any damages.
In most slip and fall injury cases, the insurance representative from the other party will examine whether your conduct contributed to the accident. Questions they may ask include:
- Did you have a legitimate reason for being in the dangerous area?
- Would a careful person have noticed the dangerous spot and avoided it?
- Were there any warnings that the spot may be dangerous?
- Were you doing anything that distracted you from paying attention to where you were going?
To prove the other party was more negligent, your slip and fall attorney will gather as much evidence as possible. This includes video footage, an inspection of the property, witness statements, and more.
It is common for someone to suffer a slip and fall injury while visiting the home of a neighbor, friend, or relative. It can be a tough situation as you may not want to sue this person, but meanwhile, your medical expenses are proving challenging.
It may help to know that in most cases, the individual won’t be directly on the hook for your expenses—it is their homeowner’s insurance that will take care of them. If you file a claim against your neighbor, for instance, the neighbor’s insurance company would investigate the case and decide whether to pay or not.
As in any other slip and fall case, the insurance company will be looking for evidence that confirms the homeowner was negligent in your accident. If you trip or fall on the property, that doesn’t automatically mean that the property owner is liable for your damages. The same rules apply as when you fall at a business property:
- Did you have a reason to be at the property?
- Did the owner have a duty of care to you?
- Was there a danger or hazard that the owner should have warned you about?
If the insurance company agrees that the owner was negligent, they may cover your expenses. If not, you’ll have to decide whether or not to initiate a lawsuit. A slip and fall attorney can help.
In Pennsylvania, your claim must be brought within two years of your accident with few very limited exceptions.
In the eyes of the law, there are slight differences between a slip and fall vs. a trip and fall:
- Slip and fall: To “slip” is to fall backward as a result of slipping on something wet or slippery, or because of an unbalancing factor or shifting ground material.
- Trip and fall: To “trip” means to fall forward as a result of stepping on something slippery or unbalancing, getting your foot caught, or not stepping all the way over something.
Both accidents can lead the victim to fall and injure themselves. But when relating the accident in a claim or court, it's important to define the accident accurately.
Contact an Pittsburgh Slip and Fall Lawyer Today
If you or someone you love was injured after slipping and falling, you may be able to seek compensation from the property owner or manager. To find out if you are eligible to file a case please contact us today. Our Pittsburgh personal injury accident lawyers represent people in the Ohio Valley in West Virginia, Western Pennsylvania and Eastern Ohio.