When a person is injured in a slip and fall accident, they typically are believed when they speak about the accident and what took place. But what happens when the victim has been diagnosed with a condition like dementia?
90-Year-Old Emits “Excited Utterance” After Slip & Fall
In 2015, a then 90-year-old woman was entering the Village Inn in Omaha Nebraska when she suddenly slipped and fell. The fall caused her to break her hip.
Her children came to her side and although she was often confused because her mind was affected by dementia, she was able to clearly tell them that she had tripped over a balled up rug in the entryway. She also used her hands to demonstrate the shape of the rug and how it had been bunched up.
Her family filed a lawsuit on her behalf, seeking compensation for the medical care she required after the fall in addition to other losses. Sadly, she did not survive long enough to see the lawsuit go to trial.
The defendant, the owner of the Village Inn, alleged that the statements made by the victim’s children were “hearsay” and therefore inadmissible. He further claimed that because the victim had dementia, her statements were unreliable and shouldn’t be considered as fact.
Supreme Court Sides With Slip & Fall Plaintiffs
The case went before the Nebraska Supreme Court where the court determined that the statements made by the victim were allowed as an “extreme utterance” which is a statement that is made while under extreme stress.
Chief Justice Mike Heavican wrote, “A person suffering from dementia is still able to experience a startling event and react to that event accordingly.”
Ultimately, the court awarded the plaintiffs $195,000.
Slip & Fall Lawsuits: Proving Negligence
Slip and fall lawsuits, which fall under premises liability law, can be notoriously difficult for plaintiffs to prove. In order to obtain compensation, plaintiffs must show that:
- The hazard which caused the plaintiff to slip and fall existed for a long enough period of time that the defendant reasonably should have or did discover that it existed.
- The defendant failed to take reasonable steps to warn visitors about the hazard or to fix the hazard.
- The plaintiff’s own actions did not cause the slip and fall action to occur.
It can be difficult to prove to a court that the defendant did not take reasonable steps which is why plaintiffs should begin to keep records regarding their accident as quickly as possible.
What Records Should I Keep After A Slip & Fall Accident?
It never hurts to keep any piece of information that pertains to your slip and fall accident. This typically includes:
- Medical Records
- Photographs Of The Scene
- Photographs Of Injuries Sustained
- Letters/E-mails From Insurance Companies Or Defendant
- Contact Information Of Any Witnesses
It’s also a good idea to keep a journal that details any contact you have with the defendant and their legal team. Also, track your injuries and how they impact your day to day activities.
Why Should I Contact A Slip & Fall Lawyer?
As was previously stated, it can be very difficult to prove that a defendant was liable for the injuries that a plaintiff sustained because of a slip and fall accident. An experienced attorney can collect the evidence that is needed to prove that negligence occurred and will also consult with industry experts who can if needed, testify at trial.
It’s important to choose a law firm that has the resources that will be needed to take on insurance companies and large corporations who have their own legal teams.
What Injuries Are Covered Under A Slip & Fall Lawsuit?
Any injury can potentially be covered under a slip and fall lawsuit. The purpose of these lawsuits is to provide a plaintiff with full compensation for their losses which may include medical expenses, lost wages, physical pain and suffering, and emotional trauma.
In the past, our law firm has assisted slip and fall plaintiffs whose injuries included:
- Brain Injury
- Spinal Injury
- Broken Bones
- Nerve Damage
These injuries can cause continued pain throughout a patient’s lifetime and can impact their ability to not only work but to also enjoy life.
The Property Owner’s Insurance Company Has Offered Me A Check – Should I Take It?
If you’ve been injured in a slip and fall accident you should never accept money or sign any paperwork prior to having a have an attorney review it. You may be signing away your rights to pursue further legal action and it is likely that any amount offered you will be much less than what you need and deserve.
How Much Is My Case Worth?
Without reviewing a case our law firm cannot provide an estimate of how much a case may be worth. Each recovery is based on a plaintiff’s actual losses and varies in each case.
Won’t My Health Insurance Pay For My Medical Bills?
You may have the best health insurance available on the market but you will still face out of pocket expenses if you’ve been injured in a slip and fall accident. Additionally, health insurance will never pay for your lost earnings, the physical pain that you suffer, or the emotional trauma. These losses can only be recovered through a slip and fall lawsuit.
Do All Slip And Fall Cases Go To Court?
No, in fact, the majority of cases end with a settlement. A settlement is a carefully negotiated agreement between the plaintiff and defendant. Settlements can be beneficial because plaintiffs will know exactly how much they are getting, will typically receive a payment within 30 days, and additional legal fees will be avoided.
However, sometimes an agreement cannot be reached and these cases will go to court. The courtroom experience shouldn’t be feared. Our law firm not only prepares a case for court but we also work closely with our clients to prepare them.
How Quickly Do I Need To Contact An Attorney?
In each slip and fall case, a statute of limitations applies. This means that once an accident occurs, the victim will only have a certain period of time during which they can file their legal complaint. To avoid losing the opportunity to recover the compensation that you need, contact an attorney as quickly as possible.