An unexpected slip, trip, or fall can leave you feeling embarrassed and in a lot of pain. It might require a trip to the doctor or hospital, time away from work, or even ongoing care.
If your slip, trip, or fall happened on someone else’s premises because of a dangerous or hazardous condition — whether at a business or on private property — you may be entitled to financial compensation for your damages. An experienced attorney can help.
Our Tacoma slip and fall accident lawyers are here to help you improve your chances of a maximal financial recovery, fighting for every penny you deserve.
On this page, we provide a general overview of how these accidents happen, some common complications, and your rights and options under Washington state law.
Slip and Fall Accidents Facts & Statistics
Did you know that falls send more than 8 million Americans to the Emergency Room each year? In fact, falls are the single most common cause of ER visits in the United States (21.3% of all emergency department visits) and are the most common cause of worker’s comp claims in the country. That fact comes from the National Floor Safety Institute, or NFSI, which also reports the following:
- Slip and fall accidents are responsible for more days of missed work (and thus lost income) than any other type of accident or injury.
- 22% slip and fall accidents result in the victim being disabled and unable to work for more than 31 days.
- Slip and fall is the leading cause of accidental death inside a home.
- Employees in the construction industry are at especially high risk of slip and fall accidents, but the risk is present in nearly all occupations.
- While older adults are at a greater risk of slip and fall injury (with the risk increasing significantly with each decade), anyone can suffer damages in a fall. Even small children, toddlers, and infants can be injured in a fall.
- Among people between ages 65 and 84, falls are the second leading cause of injury-related death. For those at age 85 or older, falls are the leading cause of injury-related death.
Understanding Washington Premises Liability Law
Generally speaking, the slip and fall accident claims process is governed by Washington premises liability law, a subset of personal injury law.
Premises liability claims are based on negligence. To make a claim for negligence and thus recover compensation for a slip and fall injury, the victim must be able to show each of the following elements:
- The defendant (e.g. property owner) owed a duty of care (for example, the duty to maintain reasonably safe premises), and
- The defendant breached that duty (for example, allowed a dangerous condition to persist on the premises), and
- The defendant’s breach of duty caused the victim’s injury, and
- As a result of the injury, the victim has suffered damages (we’ll cover the issue of damages further in one of the sections below)
An experienced Tacoma slip and fall accident lawyer can help you assess your situation, determine whether you have a claim for compensation, and make a compelling case for each of these elements.
Where Do Slip and Fall Accidents Tend to Happen?
A slip, trip, and fall can happen anywhere. Some common locations include:
- Retail stores
- Grocery stores
- Shopping malls
- Hotels & motels
- Apartment & condo complexes
- Movie theaters & performing arts venues
- Restaurants, bars, and cafés
- Amusement parks & tourist attractions
- Swimming pools
- Parking lots, decks, and garages
- Arcades & entertainment centers
- Construction sites
- Sidewalks & driveways
- Stairs, escalators & elevators
- Railings & balconies
- Workplaces & job sites
While we have focused primarily on commercial business property, slip and fall accidents also happen on public property and private residential property.
Just as commercial landlords, property managers, and other companies can be held accountable for dangerous or negligent property conditions, it is also possible in some cases to bring a claim against the government for slip and fall injuries.
If your accident happened at someone else’s house (or in their yard), you might be able to seek compensation from that person’s homeowner’s insurance provider.
As Washington slip and fall accident attorneys, our office can help with these and other property-related injury claims.
Common Causes of Slip and Fall Accidents in Washington
In the context of property ownership and maintenance, negligence takes many forms. Depending on the circumstances, property owners might be held liable for failure to:
- Carefully inspect the property for hazards
- Timely address property hazards they knew about (or should have known about)
- Provide adequate warnings to the public about hazards or risks on the property
- Provide adequate security
- Maintain adequate lighting or other safety measures
- Have fire safety and/or evacuation protocols in place
These are only a few examples. If you have been injured on someone else’s property, we encourage you to call our office and discuss the situation with our slip and fall accident lawyers in Washington state.
Common Injuries in Slip, Trip, and Fall Accidents
- Broken or fractured bones*
- Spinal injuries
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Soft tissue injury
- Hearing or vision loss
- Electrocution / burn injuries
- Cognitive impairment
- Emotional distress
*According to the NFSI, the most commonly fractured bones in slip and fall accidents are the tailbone, hand, hip, vertebra, and skull.
Potential Damages Available to Slip and Fall Victims in Washington
Damages available to slip and fall victims in Washington state might include compensation for:
- Medical expenses (including physician’s visits, hospital bills, medical treatments, surgeries, medications, etc.)
- Lost income due to time away from work
- Physical therapy / rehabilitation
- Bodily pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Property damage / losses
- Loss of future earnings
- Wrongful death damages (e.g., burial expenses, loss of companionship, etc.)
- Other out-of-pocket monetary losses
These are only examples of commonly recognized damages. The damages available for your claim will depend on the injuries you sustain, the relevant insurance policies and coverages, the circumstances surrounding your accident, and other factors. To learn more about your rights and options, you should contact our experienced Washington slip and fall accident lawyers as soon as possible. We can help.
Filing an Insurance Claim After a Slip and Fall Accident
Slip and fall accidents are sometimes covered under one or more insurance policies. Unfortunately, insurance companies do not always assess victims’ claims fairly.
It is not uncommon for injured people to have a legitimate claim unreasonably denied, or to receive a settlement offer that represents far less than the victim is owed.
Insurance companies are businesses first and foremost. Their adjustors are trained to look for ways to reduce the company’s liability wherever possible. Moreover, the insurers have extensive resources on their side.
Pursuing a slip and fall claim against an insurance company on your own can be extremely challenging, and the laws governing such claims are complex. Mistakes are easy to make. An experienced lawyer, however, can help you sidestep pitfalls and build a case that improves your chances of getting the maximum compensation you deserve.
Frequently Asked Questions About Washington Slip and Fall Accidents
What Kind of Evidence Do I Need for a Slip and Fall Case?
Every situation is different. There is no one-size-fits-all list of evidence required to support a slip and fall claim. As a general principle, the more evidence you can gather, the better. But you should never assume you don’t have a case because you don’t think you have a lot of evidence. An experienced attorney may be able to help you gather other kinds of evidence, or build a compelling case using the evidence available.
Examples of evidence that can be helpful in a slip and fall case include:
- Photographs of the accident scene
- Photographs of the injuries and damages
- Eyewitness testimony
- Expert testimony (including medical testimony)
- Evidence demonstrating the defendant’s knowledge of dangerous property conditions
- Surveillance footage
- Maintenance records
- Records of other injuries or incidents on the property
These are only examples. The evidence used in your claim might depend on the nature of your accident, the evidence available, and which stage of the claims process you are in, among other factors.
Do I Need to Hire a Washington Slip and Fall Accident Attorney?
While you are not required to hire an attorney to pursue a claim for compensation, doing so may offer significant advantages.
The right personal injury attorney will have experience in pursuing claims like yours and dealing with property owners and insurance companies — with a record of success to show for it.
Your lawyer can help you avoid mistakes while also shouldering the burden of the claims process so that you can focus on healing instead. Without an attorney on your side, you enter any negotiation with an insurance company at a disadvantage.
While very minor falls with minimal injuries may not benefit from an attorney’s aid, if there are more significant damages in your case, you should talk to a lawyer before accepting a settlement offer or making decisions that might affect your legal rights.
Studies have shown that personal injury victims who hire an attorney tend to recover more money than those who do not.
My slip & fall accident happened at a friend or relative’s house. I worry about making a claim against someone I love. How can you help?
Even if the property owner is your relative or friend, we may be able to help you approach the situation delicately such that you are seeking compensation from the insurer while still maintaining those relationships (after all, that is what insurance is for). Sometimes, close friends, family members, or neighbors are very understanding of the situation, including your need to be compensated and the role that their insurance policy can play.
Every scenario is different, of course, so we encourage you to contact our office to have a confidential, no-obligation conversation about your particular situation. You may have more options than you realize. We emphasize confidentiality, compassion, and discretion in these more sensitive matters.
Free Case Review with Our Washington Slip and Fall Accident Lawyers
Fuller & Fuller, Attorneys at Law is a family-operated law firm with more than 46 years of experience in representing personal injury victims in Olympia, Tacoma, and beyond.
While some other kinds of lawyers tend to charge by the hour or require large retainers up front (some types of divorce lawyers, for example), personal injury lawyers tend to work on a contingency fee basis instead. We do not charge WA slip and fall accident victims a fee unless we get them money first. Even then, our fee is only a portion of the overall recovery.
Let our family help your family!