Imagine that you are walking down the street one day and you suddenly trip over an obstacle, a spill on a grocery store floor, or an icy patch in a parking lot and the next thing you know, you are at the emergency room. Falls are the leading cause of emergency room visits, representing the leading cause of visits. Slip and fall accidents account for over 1 million visits or 12% of total falls.

We often think of slip and fall injuries as minor, but in fact, the consequences can be catastrophic. Out of the approximately one million slip, trip and fall accidents that occur annually in the U.S., one out of five falls results in a serious injury such as a fracture or a head injury. When that happens, the injured person may be left with huge medical bills and possibly a long-term recovery process. Falls are also the third leading cause of injury-related death.

The attorneys at Kelly & Associates know how disastrous a slip and fall can be. We are experienced at helping slip and fall victims deal with the emotional, physical and financial fallout from their injury. If you suffered a slip and fall injury due to unsafe conditions on another person’s property, you might be entitled to damages. The knowledgeable, compassionate attorneys are available to discuss the details of your case. Call 1-800-LAW-GUYS (1-800-529-4897) for a free consultation.

Attorney Michael Kelly has deep roots in the Boston area and is dedicated to working within its neighborhoods. Allston developed around a railroad yard and stockyards. It includes parts of Harvard, Commonwealth and Brighton avenues. Allston is close to many colleges and universities. It is a vibrant and hard-working community containing a large student population and many immigrants from all over the world, as well as young professionals.

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What do we mean by a slip and fall accident?

People of all ages slip and fall in all kinds of ways. At times, winter weather conditions in Allston include snow, freezing rain, ice, and high winds, may result in slip and fall injuries.

Other common slip and fall cases include:

  • Wet or slippery floors from rain, mopping, waxing, or spills
  • Snow and ice on sidewalks and in business parking areas
  • Broken concrete or poorly maintained sidewalks and walkways
  • Damaged steps or handrails
  • Inadequate lighting
  • Inadequate safety precautions and warnings in construction areas
  • Failure to secure slippery or hazardous areas
  • Torn or unsafe carpet or mats

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Injuries resulting from slip and fall incidents

People suffer a variety of injuries from a slip and fall. These may be minor, but they may also be severe, or in some cases, fatal. Immediately after a fall, some people believe their injuries are minor. However, the pain or injuries may not be apparent until days or even weeks later. Common slip and fall injuries include:

  • Hip fractures. According to the CDC, over 95 percent of broken hips are suffered in falls. Older people are especially vulnerable to hip fractures, which may require surgery and rehabilitation in a nursing facility. As the population ages, the number of hip fractures is expected to go up.
  • Spinal cord and back injuries. Falls often cause spinal cord injuries, fractured vertebrae or disc problems. Such injuries sometimes lead to temporary or permanent paralysis.
  • Head injuries. Falls are one of the leading causes of traumatic brain injuries. A traumatic brain injury can be anything from a minor concussion to a severe injury to the brain requiring long-term treatment.
  • Sprains and fractures. When people fall, they often try to break the fall, doing further damage in the process. They may twist a knee, or tear muscles or tendons. They may try to catch themselves and end up breaking an arm or wrist.
  • Shoulder injuries. A shoulder dislocation also called a “brachial plexus injury,” is a painful injury and often require surgery and physical therapy.

Responsibility for a slip and fall injury

The Allston-Brighton neighborhood district, like other municipalities, is governed by various regulations and ordinances concerning the use and reasonable care of a property. Also, Massachusetts has enacted statutes that may affect the liability for a slip and fall incident. Determining responsibility for a slip and fall accident is often complicated. Legal theories that may apply to slip and fall cases include:

Negligence

Negligence is simply defined as the failure to use reasonable care. Whether or not the negligent act, or failure to act, was intentional, if someone is injured as the result of the negligent act, the injured person might be entitled to damages.

Strict Liability

Strict liability, also known as absolute liability, does not depend on negligence or intent to harm. The theory is usually used in the case of accidents involving dangerous products and defective prescription drugs. It is also known as absolute liability.

Comparative Negligence

The doctrine of comparative negligence means that if you were involved in an accident, and you were partly at fault, you can still seek compensation. However, your damages may be reduced according to the amount of fault.

Intentional and Reckless Misconduct

If intentional, reckless or malicious conduct is proven, the victim may be entitled to punitive damages.

What kinds of damages are recoverable from a slip and fall accident injury?

If someone is injured in a slip and fall accident, he or she may be entitled to recover damages related to his or her injuries. Each case is different, however, commonly awarded damages include:

  • Medical bills. These include such expenses as emergency treatment, hospital stays, medical tests, and doctor visits
  • Rehabilitation costs. These costs may extend well into the future and may include physical, occupational and speech therapy. The victim may also need assistive devices such as canes, walkers, and wheelchairs
  • Future medical bills for permanent or long-term disabilities
  • Lost wages for missed work
  • Loss of earning capacity, when someone is not able to return to his or her previous job
  • Pain and suffering, which may include physical and emotional pain

Possible defenses to slip and fall cases

Property owners and their insurance carriers will do whatever they can to avoid paying court-ordered damages or an insurance claim. Because Massachusetts is a modified comparative negligence state, if the court holds that the victim is partially at fault in the accident, they will reduce damages. If the victim is 50% or more at fault, they are barred from recovering damages. Therefore, property owners will try to shift the blame by asserting various defenses. They may claim that the hazard should have been obvious, the property owner took reasonable precautions to protect the victim, or the victim was trespassing.

How are attorney’s fees handled?

Slip and fall cases are handled on a contingency fee basis, so the fee is dependent on the outcome of the case. You may be awarded damages using a court verdict or a negotiated settlement. However, if you do not receive compensation, you do not owe a fee. If you do, your attorneys are paid an agreed-upon portion of the money obtained.

Slip and fall accidents can happen anywhere, even in Allston. You could be walking down Cambridge Street, slip on damaged or hazardous concrete,  and be seriously injured. If you or a loved one have been injured in a slip and fall accident, you must speak with a caring, experienced attorney right away. For a free consultation, please contact us. We are here to protect your rights.

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