St George and Cedar City, Utah have experienced freezing weather with the cold front that has pushed through much of the country the last few weeks. When freezing weather and rain or snow are forecasted, icy roads and walk-ways can occur. We want to discuss slip and fall accidents, because these personal injury cases can occur throughout the year from wet floors, uneven flooring, clutter, unsafe stairways, or poor lighting.
When these accidents happen there are a few factors that go into effect.
- The statute of limitations
- Utah’s rule of comparative negligence
Slip & Fall Statute of Limitations
According to Utah state code, you have four years to file a personal injury claim in the state of Utah.
Let’s walk through a scenario. You’re walking into a grocery store; the roads have been wet and slushy and as a result the floors leading into the grocery store are slippery. You take a step into the store your foot hits a slick spot and you slide landing on your back. You are shaken but play it off and continue on with your shopping. Over the next few days you are sore, but you just plan to wait it out. After a few weeks, your back and neck still hurt. You go to a doctor and realize you injured the area. The physician may require additional exams or imagining to determine the extent of the injuries. Perhaps, this effects your ability to work, or you need to go to physical therapy. As time goes on, you are out for the medical bills this injury caused and potentially any compensation to missed workdays.
Having four years to file a claim can be useful, as some injuries can take years to develop or get to the point when someone is finally willing to go to the doctor.
What is Comparative Negligence
When it comes to matters of slip and fall cases, the matter of fault has to be determined. Who was negligent and to what extent. Essentially comparative negligence assesses how much fault does the injured party bare and how much fault does the party bare who the claim was brought against. If the burden of fault is greater for the injured, then damages might not be provided. If they are at least 50% at fault, then they may get a partial settlement. Ultimately the damages are awarded based on the percentage of fault up to 100%. So going back to our story, was there a wet floor sign displayed in the front walkway? Were efforts made to keep the front area clean?
What Should I do if I had a Slip and Fall accident?
- Complete an Accident Report – Talk to management and make sure to have a written record of the accident on file.
- Photograph the Scene – If possible, grab your phone and photograph the area where the accident occurred immediately. As time goes on, elements or details can be forgotten or exaggerated. Photos help establish what really happened and what the area looked like.
- Receive Medical Treatment – You’ll want your injuries cataloged. It’s the best way to get the compensation you need for treatment and recovery.
- Write a Demand Letter – This is when you write a letter to the company where your accident took place. Include your name and address, a date and description of the accident, copies of the accident report, medical bills, medical records, and an explanation of the compensation you would like to receive.
Negotiate a Settlement – When the company receives the demand letter, they’ll submit the claim to their insurance company at which point an investigation may be conducted and a settlement offered. If you aren’t sure if it’s a good offer reach out to a slip and fall injury attorney. An attorney can help you determine a fair settlement deal.