Richmond Slip and Fall Lawyer
Suffering personal injuries in an unexpected fall can cause massive life disruptions. When injuries are serious, treatment for a bad fall goes well beyond basic emergency care. Long-term medical interventions bring with them a stream of medical bills, lost income opportunities, and other long-term financial consequences. The follow-on effects of a fall injury can cause a person to struggle with daily activities, family interactions, household duties, and earning a living.
Lawyers use the term premises liability to refer to a property owner’s legal liability for injuries a visitor to the property sustains because of a property condition. We often use the phrase “slip and fall” to describe the types of legal matters that arise out of these injuries, but in fact, slipping and falling constitutes just one of a whole range of incidents that could harm a visitor to someone’s property. The Richmond personal injury lawyers at Emroch & Kilduff, we believe in holding property owners to account for the damages these harms inflict on innocent victims and their families.
If you or someone you love have slipped, tripped, fallen, or sustained an injury in any other type of incident on someone else’s property, contact the experienced premises liability team at Emroch & Kilduff today to learn how we may be able to help you recover the compensation you deserve.
We Believe Negligent Parties Should Pay
At Emroch & Kilduff, we believe negligent people and businesses should pay for the damages they cause others. That includes property owners who fail to keep visitors to their properties safe.
Since 1970, our firm has handled personal injury cases exclusively. We draw on that vast experience in resolving complex premises liability claims for our clients. It’s a personal mission. We’ve witnessed firsthand how serious and catastrophic injuries disrupt our clients’ lives, and we’re committed to seeking justice on their behalf. Our team works day-in, day-out, to achieve the best possible legal and financial outcomes for Virginia victims and their families, while giving each and every one of them the personal attention and respect they deserve while they struggle to recover from injuries and losses.
Our Law Firm’s Personal Injury Results
At Emroch & Kilduff, we always try to find the most efficient resolution of the matters we handle for injured clients. When possible, we negotiate out-of-court settlements with insurance companies and opposing attorneys, either directly or with the help of a mediator. If those negotiations succeed in achieving a favorable result for our clients, then we consider our work a success. If they do not, then we have no hesitation to take our clients’ cases to court to be heard by local judges and juries.
Each premises liability case is different. We can’t guarantee a specific outcome in any matter we handle, but we do believe our past results reflect how our hard-work and intelligence has served our clients well in the past. In premises liability matters, for instance, we have achieved the following results:
- $6 million settlement of accidental drowning matter: When a six-year-old drowned in an apartment swimming pool, our law firm filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the property owners, their management company, and the pool management company. We settled the lawsuit after a lengthy discovery process.
- $2.25 million judgment in on-site job injury: A Virginia worker was power-washing a building in Maryland when he fell through an unsafe fiberglass roof panel. The panel was painted the same color as the roof, disguising the hazard. The worker fell 14-feet and landed on a concrete surface. He sustained multiple fractures and a traumatic brain injury. The judgment might have been larger but for Maryland’s $750,000 cap on non-compensatory damages.
Richmond Slip and Fall FAQ
Slip and falls are some of the most common accidents in Richmond. Below are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions we receive about slip and falls.
Where Do Premises Liability Injuries Occur?
Premises liability injuries occur anywhere you might find people gathering, working, or simply living their lives. Falls constitute the principal mode of serious premises liability injuries, but electrocutions, dog bites, security issues, violent acts, and so-called “freak” accidents also contribute to the matters we handle at Emroch & Kilduff.
Common locations of slips and falls and other premises liability mishaps include:
- Parking lots and garages
- Roadways, including sidewalks, bridges, and overpasses
- Malls, shopping centers, and retail stores
- Single-family homes and apartment complexes
- Entertainment venues
- Sports arenas
- Construction sites
- Business complexes and conference centers
- Amusement parks
Public and private pools also see frequent injuries. The most recent CDC facts on unintentional drownings show a national average of 3,536 fatalities each year.
Who Is Responsible for Injuries Sustained on Someone Else’s Property?
Under Virginia law, a property owner/operator may bear legal responsibility for injuries to a visitor depending upon the visitor’s status on the property as either an “invitee,” a “licensee,” or a “trespasser.” A property owner/operator’s duty to a visitor varies based on that status, as follows:
- Invitee: An invitee is on a property by an express or implied invitation of the owner/operator, such as a customer at a grocery store. A property owner/operator must exercise reasonable care to keep invitees safe on the property.
- Licensee: A licensee is a person who enters a premises for a reason that principally benefits them, rather than the property owner/operator, such as a home service provider. An owner/operator has a duty to keep a licensee safe from willful or wanton conduct and to warn of hidden dangers.
- Trespasser: A trespasser enters a property without an invitation or implied entry right. A property owner/operator’s duty to a trespasser is only limited to avoiding causing the trespasser deliberate harm (and even that duty may be limited in some circumstances).
Anyone working for a property owner/operator is also subject to these standards.
To determine whether a property owner/operator has liability to a visitor, lawyers, judges, and insurance companies may take various factors into account, from simple questions like whether floors, stairs, and railings were in suitable condition to more complicated issues like whether the owner/operator was aware of specific security issues on the property or if particular visitors had specific safety needs.
What if they claim ignorance of the dangerous condition?
Not all potentially dangerous conditions are immediately apparent. The law acknowledges this, which is why owners of premises open to the public need to regularly inspect and maintain their property. A loose stair should become obvious before it causes someone to slip and fall if the owner is engaging in regular inspections and maintenance.
It doesn’t necessarily matter if the property owner claims they didn’t know about the problem. The law uses a concept known as a reasonable person to determine whether a property owner should have known. If the average reasonably prudent person would have known, the property owner in question is held to that standard.
There is one exception, however. If a potentially harmful situation occurs without warning, the property owner has a reasonable time to respond to and fix the situation. The time needn’t be lengthy, but it does exist.
Let’s say a sudden rainstorm occurs. Patrons carrying umbrellas and wet coats track water into a retail store. The water causes someone to slip and fall. The store owner and staff may argue that they were in the process of fixing the issue—going to get a mop, for example—or didn’t have a chance to fix it.
If a situation like this happens to you, it’s prudent to consult a slip and fall attorney. Don’t try to negotiate this alone! Property owners can easily claim they didn’t have time to fix the issue, when in fact they did.
What Are a Property Owner’s Liability Defenses?
When property owners, their insurance companies, and their defense attorneys choose a court confrontation over a negotiated settlement, the plaintiff must prove liability and damages. In court, defendants often try to avoid liability by relying on some common premises liability defenses. At Emroch & Kilduff, our slip and fall attorneys understand, anticipate, and plan for these potential defenses, which may include:
- Arguing contributory negligence: Virginia is one of a few states in the country with a so-called “pure contributory negligence” rule. If a defendant can prove the plaintiff “deviated from a standard of care and that the deviation was a proximate cause of damages,” then the plaintiff cannot recover any damages. This gives defendants a strong incentive to “blame the victim” in a premises liability incident.
- Claiming the plaintiff was a trespasser or licensee: A property owner’s defense strategy often includes an allegation that the injured person wasn’t an invitee, and so the property owner’s duties to the victim were fewer.
- Putting injury in dispute: Defendants try reducing damages by disputing that an injury occurred on their property or challenging the severity of an injury.
What Conditions Cause Slip and Fall Issues?
A property owner/operator’s responsibilities to invitees, in particular, generally include maintaining reasonably safe conditions and providing those on their property a secure environment. Conditions for which property owners/operators may have legal liability for failing to correct often include:
- Inadequate security measures
- Poorly maintained stairways and landings
- Poorly maintained amusement park rides
- Ineffectual swimming pool safety and warnings
- Unsafe diving boards and slides
- Improperly-maintained elevators and escalators
- Hazardous merchandise displays
- Improperly-grounded electrical equipment
- Improperly-maintained parking lots, landscapes, and walkways
- Unrestrained and vicious dogs
- Inadequately-maintained and cleaned floors
- Defective handrails
What Injuries Do Premises Liability Incidents Cause?
The injuries a person can sustain on someone else’s property vary from very minor to catastrophic. While some visitors may walk away from a mishap nursing simple bumps and bruises, others may face hospitalization and months of rehabilitation to address, among other injuries:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord trauma
- Multiple fractures
- Internal injuries
- Drownings and near drownings
- Anoxic brain damage
- Burns, chemical burns, and scars
- Lacerations, puncture wounds, and bite marks
- Fatal Injuries
Of course, sometimes a mishap on someone else’s property can lead to a tragic death. At Emroch & Kilduff, we treat those incidents with the extra seriousness and compassion they deserve.
What Damages Can I Recover for a Premises Injury?
When an injured person receives a settlement or judgment, it traditionally includes economic damages and general damages.
Economic damages include objectively-measurable costs incurred as a result of the incident and injury, such as:
- Current and future lost income
- Diminished earning capacity
- Medical treatment and medications
- Prosthetics and mobility devices
- Physical and mental therapy
- Transportation for medical care
- Replacement household services
- Funeral expenses
General damages represent the subjective costs of an incident an injury that can be more difficult to measure, including:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Diminished spousal and family relationships
- Inability to care for family
- Loss of bodily functions
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Permanent disabilities
A jury may also punitive damages in rare circumstances when a plaintiff produces “clear and convincing evidence” that proves a defendant’s “malice” in causing the injuries. Virginia law caps punitive damage awards at $350,000.
What if the accident happened last year?
All plaintiffs must file slip and fall lawsuits within a certain deadline. This time limit is known as the statute of limitations.
Victims need to bring a slip and fall lawsuit in Virginia within two years of the accident.
This may sound like a long time, but successful legal cases need evidence. The longer you wait, the harder obtaining evidence can become. Surveillance footage of the area, eyewitnesses, and even medical records of your treatment may become unavailable due to loss, erasure, moving away, or other reasons. Your own and other people’s memory may become unreliable.
Emroch & Kilduff offers a free consultation to discuss your case. It’s a good idea to discuss the accident with a lawyer shortly after it occurs.
What should I do after a slip and fall accident?
Here is a list of actions to take after a slip and fall accident:
- Call 911 if you are seriously injured. Your safety comes first.
- See a doctor or go to an emergency room as soon as possible after the accident. People can suffer serious injuries and not feel the symptoms immediately. You need a professional check-up; tell them you slipped and fell.
- Take pictures of the scene if you have a smartphone with you.
- Get the contact information from any eyewitnesses if they are willing.
- Tell the manager you slipped and fell before you leave.
- Follow your doctor’s recommendations.
- Take pictures of your injuries shortly after the accident.
- Keep all medical records. They are valuable evidence.
Not knowing what to do can imperil you in several ways. First, you could fail to get appropriate medical treatment. Second, insurance companies often try to paint victims in a negative light for not doing certain things, such as seeking medical treatment quickly or speaking to a manager right after the accident.
Many victims don’t tell anyone because they feel embarrassed or just want to get home and put on an ice pack. But insurance companies often try to paint things very differently than they happened to minimize any payment they must make. They are in business to make a profit, not compensate victims.
If you have any other questions, contact a Richmond slip and fall attorney at Emroch & Kilduff.
Contact Emroch & Kilduff’s Slip and Fall Injury Lawyers
If you feel an injury you’ve endured is a direct result of a property owner’s breach of a duty to you, contact an attorney right away. You may have the right to seek compensation for lost wages and medical bills, damages for pain and suffering, mental anguish, and disfigurement, as well as permanent disabilities. Premises liability cases involve complex legal matters and oftentimes involve the property owner’s insurance company. Without an experienced premises liability lawyer on your side, you may put your legal rights at risk.
If you were injured in premises liability incident in Richmond, Petersburg, Tappahannock, Fredericksburg, or the surrounding communities, call Emroch & Kilduff at (804) 358-1568 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free consultation with a member of our team.
Emroch & Kilduff
3600 W Broad St #700
Richmond, VA 23230
Phone: (804) 358-1568
Fax: (804) 353-5817
Toll-free: (888) 358-1568