Learn what to do after a slip-and-fall accident to prove liability and recover maximum compensation
Slip-and-fall accidents can occur at any time and on anyone’s property. You might fall on a slippery surface at a restaurant or in a parking lot or trip over a hazard in the walkway at a grocery store. Falls like these can cause serious injuries that range from neck or back pain to severe brain trauma that leave you with long-lasting health problems along with high medical bills.
Understanding how premises liability laws impact your slip-and-fall accident case can help you know how to proceed when you sustain an injury on someone else’s property.
If you’ve been injured in a slip-and-fall accident in Montana, ensure you get maximum compensation for your claim by scheduling a free consultation with one of the experienced personal injury attorneys at Murphy Law Firm to discuss your case.
What is premises liability law in Montana?
The premises liability law in Montana holds property owners responsible for covering any damages that arise from an injury someone sustains while visiting their home or commercial business.
For the law to apply to a slip-and-fall case, you will need to be able to prove that the property owner’s negligence contributed to the injury. For instance, you might be able to demonstrate that a property owner failed to properly clean up snow or ice that created a hazardous walking path.
What are the common causes of slip-and-fall accidents?
Hazardous surfaces are among the most common causes of slip-and-fall injuries. While snow and ice are common hazards, a path may also be dangerous if a property owner allows basic maintenance to lapse. For example, a delivery worker can easily trip over uneven concrete pavement or a hole on someone’s property that is covered by leaves or other debris.
Spills are also common contributors to these types of accidents. Managers and property owners of commercial businesses like Walmart are expected to follow specific protocols for preventing slip-and-fall accidents, such as cleaning up liquids as quickly as possible. Placing signs indicating that floors are wet is an additional safeguard that business owners and their teams should follow to protect visitors to their property.
Poor lighting and excessive clutter are additional environmental factors that property owners need to be aware of to prevent slip-and-fall accidents.
Injuries from these accidents can range from minor sprains to more severe outcomes like brain injuries, spinal cord injuries and fractures. The extent of these injuries often depends on the nature of the fall and the surface involved, so it’s important for property owners to address these hazards proactively to prevent such accidents and the accompanying injuries.
Who can be held liable in a slip-and-fall accident?
In slip-and-fall accidents, determining liability often depends on the location and circumstances of the incident.
Generally, the property owner is the primary party held responsible. However, identifying the correct person or entity to notify about the claim can sometimes be challenging. In certain situations, the responsible party might be a government entity, such as a city or town, particularly if the accident occurred on public property.
Alternatively, in commercial settings, a major corporation could be held accountable if the fall resulted from its failure to maintain the property adequately. For falls that occur at work, the situation might be governed by workers’ compensation laws, which can influence who is deemed responsible for the accident.
How do you prove negligence in a slip-and-fall accident case in Montana?
To prove negligence in a slip-and-fall case, you’ll need to establish the following:
- The property owner owed you a duty of care to keep their property safe.
- Their failure to uphold that duty directly caused your accident.
- The accident resulted in damages such as medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
It’s often crucial to gather multiple types of evidence to establish these elements. Eyewitness testimonies are powerful for helping to show what went wrong, which is why it’s important to gather as much information as you can at the scene of the accident.
You might also be able to use incident reports regarding ongoing property maintenance issues. A police report could also reveal the causes of the accident that a law enforcement officer noticed at the time of your injury.
Surveillance videos are another effective way to show exactly what happened when you got hurt. Since the property owner may not be forthcoming with video footage, working with your attorney is often the best way to access images that bolster your claim.
How does comparative negligence affect a slip-and-fall claim in Montana?
Sometimes, both parties took actions that contributed to an accident. For instance, you might’ve been looking down at your phone when you slipped on an icy sidewalk that should have been cleared.
In these cases, Montana courts will typically use the comparative fault theory to determine liability. If your percentage of fault doesn’t exceed 50%, then the other party can still be held responsible for a portion of the damages. However, your final compensation would be reduced by your percentage of fault.
So, if you were 10% at fault for a slip-and-fall accident because you were distracted by your phone when you fell, your final compensation would be reduced by 10%. This means if you would have been awarded $20,000, you would instead receive $18,000 (or $20,000 minus $2,000 or 10%).
What types of compensation can you claim for a slip-and-fall accident?
For a slip-and-fall accident, you can typically claim compensation for medical expenses, lost wages (if you’re unable to work), pain and suffering, emotional distress, and sometimes punitive damages, depending on the circumstances of the accident.
Additionally, you may be eligible for compensation for any long-term disability or reduced earning capacity resulting from the injury.
What steps should you take after a slip-and-fall accident?
After a slip-and-fall accident, your well-being is the priority. Make sure to seek emergency medical attention for your injuries as soon as possible. This is crucial for establishing that your injuries were the result of the accident.
If possible, you’ll also want to gather evidence at the scene. Taking pictures of the hazardous property can help prove that the accident wasn’t completely your fault. You should also get contact information for witnesses, along with possible statements, before you leave the scene.
Once your condition is stable, you should then reach out to an attorney to begin the process of filing your claim. They can help you gather evidence to prove fault, calculate the full value of your claim and handle negotiations with the insurance company to ensure you recover maximum compensation.
What is the statute of limitations for filing a slip-and-fall lawsuit in Montana?
In Montana, the typical statute of limitations for these kinds of cases is 3 years from the time that you had the accident or knew about your injury. However, you’ll typically need to submit a notice of claim to the property owner within as little as 20 days after the accident’s occurrence. If the liable party is a government entity, then the statute of limitations might be shorter.
Because the time limits for filing a claim can vary, it’s important to reach out to a premises liability attorney as soon as possible after an accident to increase your chance of a successful claim.
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A slip-and-fall accident can be a distressing and overwhelming experience, often accompanied by a mix of emotions and serious pain. It’s crucial to act swiftly to ensure your financial stability during your recovery.