When to Hire a Lawyer If You’ve Been Injured in a Trip and Fall Accident
Every day, British Columbians put their trust in other people and organizations, believing that they will be safe from harm when visiting homes, properties, and businesses.
Owners and occupiers of premises have a duty to keep visitors safe by providing adequate warning of potential hazards or by removing hazards entirely. They must routinely inspect the premises and repair or remove hazards. If an owner or occupier does not meet this duty and you are injured as a result, you may be able to bring a claim for compensation.
Our Vancouver Lawyers Can Help You with Your Trip and Fall Case
In deciding whether to hire a personal injury lawyer to assist you with a trip and fall claim, it is important to understand the many benefits a lawyer can provide to you. Contact Klein Lawyers today to discuss your case.
Our trip and fall lawyers will provide a frank assessment of your claim and give our advice on whether it’s in your best interest to work with a lawyer. We have been helping personal injury clients in Vancouver and throughout British Columbia for more than two decades. Our consultations are always free and confidential.
How Do I Know If I Have a Trip and Fall Claim?
Any trip and fall accident can lead to injury. In some cases the injuries can be severe, potentially resulting in significant and even permanent effects on your life.
However, simply because you trip and fall on someone else’s property does not automatically mean you have a viable claim. Rather, you must prove that (a) the owner or occupier of the premises was negligent and (b) their negligence led to your injuries and damages.
Common Causes of Trip and Fall Accidents
Most trip and fall accidents are caused by unsafe conditions on premises. These hazards can take a variety of different forms.
Common examples of unsafe conditions that give rise to trip and fall claims include:
- Stairs and/or handrails in poor repair
- Buildings not to code
- Loose rugs and mats
- Falling signs, merchandise, and fixtures
- Poor lighting
- Clutter in walkways
- Uneven walking surfaces
- Cracked and broken tiles, pavement, etc.
- Poor cleaning and maintenance practices
A host of other dangerous conditions can give rise to trip and fall accidents. Wet floors, spilled liquids, accumulated moisture from snow and ice, and other issues can also cause you to trip and fall.
Trip and fall accidents can lead to serious and life-altering injuries. If you tripped and fell due to the negligence of a property owner or the occupier of the premises, you may be entitled to compensation.
Common Injuries in Trip and Fall Claims
Falls are among the most causes of injury in Canada. If you trip and fall, it is important to take the injury seriously and seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Some of the most common injuries in trip and fall accident claims include:
- Broken bones
- Soft tissue injuries
- Facial injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Injuries to the neck and back
- Spinal cord injuries
- Nerve damage
All of these injuries need to be treated promptly and documented thoroughly. Getting medical care isn’t just important for your well-being; it is also essential for proving your right to compensation for a trip and fall accident.
Common Locations for Trip and Fall Accidents
A trip and fall accident can happen anywhere. This includes:
- Private homes
- Commercial businesses
- Recreation centres
- Grocery stores
- Big box stores
- Parking lots and garages
- Common property owned by a strata corporation
- Construction sites
- Restaurants and bars
- Shopping malls and retail stores
The owners and occupiers of each of these properties have a duty to take reasonable care to prevent lawful visitors from coming to harm. Broadly speaking, this duty includes being aware of potential hazards, taking timely steps to alleviate dangerous conditions, and warning visitors of a potential danger until the hazard can be rectified.
What Should I Do If I Have Been Hurt on Someone Else’s Property?
If you have been injured in a trip and fall accident, the first thing you need to do is remain calm. You should take a moment to assess your injuries and determine whether it is safe for you to move.
Call 911 or the local emergency number if you are concerned about your injuries (or have someone at the scene call for you if you are incapacitated). Paramedics will assess your condition and transport you to the nearest emergency department as necessary.
If you are able to move safely, you should do the following to get started on your trip and fall accident claim:
- Make note of where the trip and fall occurred, as well as the date and the approximate time.
- Take photos of the scene; be sure to photograph any dangerous conditions that led to the trip and fall.
- Speak to witnesses and get their names and contact information.
- Report the accident to the owner or occupier of the premises.
- Seek medical care after you leave the property.
Once you are home, you should keep any clothing you were wearing at the time of the trip and fall accident – especially your shoes. The defendant and/or the insurance company may try to argue that a dangerous condition was not present and/or that you were unsuitably dressed. Hanging onto your clothes and shoes from the trip and fall is the best way to refute these assertions.
You also need to keep any and all documents related to the trip and fall accident. This includes your medical records, bills for medical treatment, receipts for medication and assistive devices you purchased, and communications with your employer if your injuries leave you unable to work. All of these documents may be important in building your trip and fall claim.
Finally, you should consult a trip and fall lawyer as soon as possible after the accident. No time to seek legal guidance is “too soon,” but you should definitely hire a lawyer to handle communications with the property owner or occupier’s insurance company.
What Is Occupiers’ Liability?
The Occupiers Liability Act is the legislation in British Columbia that establishes the legal duties of persons and entities that occupy a property. Section 1 of the Occupiers Liability Act defines an occupier as:
- A person who “is in physical possession of premises”
- A person who “has responsibility for, and control over, the condition of premises, the activities conducted on those premises and the persons allowed to enter those premises”
Overall, the occupier of any premises has a duty to act with “care that in all the circumstances of the case is reasonable to see that a person … will be reasonably safe in using the premises” (Occupiers Liability Act § 3 (1)). This is known as the duty of care, and it establishes the legal obligations of occupiers as it applies to:
- “condition of the premises”
- “activities on the premises”, or
- “conduct of third parties on the premises”
(Occupiers Liability Act § 3 (2)(a)-(c))
It is crucial to accurately identify who is at fault if you are injured in a trip and fall accident on premises owned and/or occupied by someone else. Our trip and fall lawyers will investigate thoroughly to determine who is responsible for the property and take steps to hold them accountable.
What Types of Compensation Are Available to Victims of Trip and Fall Accidents?
No two trip and fall claims are exactly alike. The damages you may be entitled to will depend on the nature and extent of your injuries, your current and future monetary losses, and other factors.
Klein Lawyers will assess the evidence in your case to calculate the compensation you deserve. We may be able to recover the following damages in a trip and fall personal injury claim on your behalf:
- Current and future medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity
- Expenses you pay out of pocket (such as medical-related travel, assistive devices, modifications to your home and vehicle, etc.)
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of the enjoyment of life
If your loved one died as a result of a trip and fall accident, Klein Lawyers can bring a claim on behalf of your family against the negligent owner and/or occupier. You and your loved ones may be entitled to wrongful death damages such as loss of income and financial support, loss of household services, funeral and burial expenses, and any medical costs incurred from the care your relative required prior to death.
Why You Need a Trip and Fall Lawyer
A Trip and Fall Lawyer Will Protect Your Rights and Interests
After a trip and fall accident, you may be asked by the owner and/or occupier (or their insurer) to provide details of the accident. However, not all owners and occupiers are this organized and aware of the process for reporting a claim. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you with properly reporting the incident and ensuring that the report gets to the appropriate insurance company.
If you are dealing with an insurance adjuster, you may find that they are friendly, ethical, and professional. However, it is important to remember that the adjuster’s role is to serve the insurance company – not you. The adjuster has no duty to explain your rights to you. The adjuster’s ultimate goal is to pay the lowest amount possible to resolve your claim.
Your trip and fall lawyer, on the other hand, will be focused entirely on serving you and your best interests.
Your lawyer will take the time to make sure you fully understand your rights and options so that you can make informed decisions about your claim. Your lawyer also will take all the needed steps to obtain the maximum amount of compensation for you and your family.
You can count on your lawyer to carefully investigate your case, consult with experts, negotiate aggressively with the insurance company, and fight for you in the courtroom if necessary.
A Trip and Fall Lawyer Will Promptly and Properly File Your Paperwork
Like most people, you probably have no idea what forms and other paperwork must be filed with the insurance company or the Supreme Court of British Columbia. If you file any documents improperly or after a deadline hits, you could lose your right to recover compensation for your injuries and other damages.
A skilled and experienced trip and fall lawyer will make sure that all documents in your case are professionally prepared and, most importantly, that they are filed in a timely manner.
A Trip and Fall Lawyer Will Thoroughly Investigate Your Case
The trip and fall accident that caused your injuries must be thoroughly investigated. Your lawyer will know how to conduct this investigation.
A lawyer who has an extensive background with handling trip and fall claims will know what evidence to gather and how to obtain it. This includes:
- Photographs of the location of the incident that show any hazards, potential hazards, lighting issues, or other safety concerns
- Land title searches to identify the owner(s) of the land and/or premises on which the incident occurred
- Witness statements
- Police accident report, if applicable
- Surveillance camera footage
- Cell phone records
- Cleaning and maintenance logs of the occupier of the premises
A Trip and Fall Lawyer Will Consult with Experts
Two issues that could be contested in your case are whether there was negligence on the part of the owner and/or occupier of the premises that caused your injuries, as well as the extent of your physical, emotional, and financial harm. Your lawyer will turn to knowledgeable, highly qualified experts to shed light on both of these issues.
Medical and life care-planning experts can analyze your injuries and determine the care you will need as you move ahead in life. An economist can forecast the impact of your injuries on your ability to earn a living.
All of this expert input can play a critical role in pursuing the compensation you truly deserve after a trip and fall accident.
A Trip and Fall Lawyer Will Seek a Full and Fair Settlement of Your Claim
Your lawyer will closely review all relevant insurance policies, the at-fault party’s available coverage, the evidence in your case, and experts’ reports. Based on this information, your lawyer can present the insurance company with a demand for a settlement that fully and fairly compensates you.
After making this demand, your lawyer will use his or her skills as a negotiator to arrive at a fair settlement. These negotiations may require the use of a neutral third party called a mediator.
Throughout the process, your lawyer should keep you informed and seek your instructions on how to proceed. Ultimately, the decision of whether to accept a settlement will belong to you.
If Necessary, a Trip and Fall Lawyer Will Take Your Case to Court
Most claims can be resolved through a settlement. Our lawyers find that clients prefer a settlement. It can provide the funds you deserve more quickly and allow you to move on with your life.
However, in some cases, the insurance company will refuse to agree to a reasonable settlement. They may, for instance, challenge who is at fault or disagree on the amount of damages you deserve. If this occurs, you will need a trip and fall lawyer to aggressively pursue your claim in court.
It will be important to work with a lawyer who has courtroom experience. The lawyer should know how to challenge the other side’s claims and present a compelling and persuasive case.
A Trip and Fall Lawyer Will Make Sure You Get Paid as Soon as Possible
After a settlement or verdict is reached, you will need to collect the funds owed to you, settle outstanding claims on your recovery, and make sure you get paid in a timely manner.
At Klein Lawyers, we can represent you on a contingency fee basis. This means that if and when we secure a recovery for you, we will be paid an agreed-upon percentage of your recovery.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is the Difference Between a Slip, a Trip, and a Fall?
The terms slip, trip, and fall are often used interchangeably. But from a legal and technical perspective, they have distinct meanings, especially when discussing occupiers’ liability and personal injury cases. Here’s a breakdown of the differences:
A slip occurs when there is too little traction or friction between the footwear and the walking surface, leading to a loss of balance. Common causes include wet or oily surfaces, spills, and weather hazards such as ice or snow. Slips usually result in the person losing their balance and can lead to falls.
A trip happens when a person’s foot or lower leg hits an object, causing them to lose balance, or when there’s a gap in a walking surface, like an unexpected step. Common causes of trips include clutter, uneven surfaces, loose or unanchored rugs or mats, or other hidden hazards. Trips can also lead to a loss of balance and fall.
A fall is the result of a slip or trip, where the individual ends up on the ground. Falls can be on the same level (due to slipping or tripping) or to a lower level (like falling off a ladder or platform). The injuries from falls can be severe and can range from minor bruises to fractures or even fatal injuries.
In legal terms, understanding the difference between slipping and tripping is important because it can affect the nature of the claim. The cause of the accident will often determine who might be liable for the injuries. For example, a business might be liable if a customer slips on a liquid that spilled on the floor and should have been cleaned up immediately, but a municipality might be responsible if someone trips on a poorly maintained sidewalk.
Regardless of whether it’s a slip or a trip preceding the fall, if you or someone you know has been injured due to such an accident, it’s essential to consult with a trip and fall lawyer to understand your rights and potential remedies. They can provide guidance tailored to the specifics of the incident.
Are Slips, Trips, & Falls a Significant Hazard?
Yes, slips, trips, and falls are indeed significant hazards. They represent one of the most frequent types of accidents and can result in a wide range of injuries, from minor bruises to severe fractures, concussions, or even fatal injuries. Here’s a brief overview:
In many workplaces, largely those involving manual labour or movement across various terrains, slips, trips, and falls are common causes of injuries and workers’ compensation claims.
In public settings like malls, parks, and recreational areas, uneven surfaces, wet floors, or inadequate lighting can increase the risk of these incidents.
Homes & Residences
Many domestic accidents, chiefly among older people, result from falls caused by clutter, wet surfaces, or other hazards.
Beyond immediate physical harm, these accidents can lead to prolonged medical treatments, absence from work, and significant financial burdens. Recognizing the significance of these hazards, many organizations and regulatory bodies emphasize the importance of preventive measures, including proper signage, regular maintenance, and safety training.
What Is the Average Settlement Amount for a Trip & Fall?
The average settlement amount for a trip and fall accident in Canada varies based on several factors, including the severity of injuries, medical costs, loss of income, and the circumstances of the accident itself. While it’s challenging to pinpoint a precise “average” due to the diverse nature of cases, settlements can range from a few thousand to several hundred thousand dollars or even more for severe cases.
In Canada, as in many jurisdictions, there might be broad data or anecdotal information available about general personal injury settlements. However, specifics regarding averages for trip and fall cases can be more challenging to ascertain.
For an accurate evaluation of a particular case’s potential value, consulting with a trip and fall accident lawyer is critical. They can assess your situation, offer insight based on previous cases, and guide you through the complexities of the legal process.
What Is the Highest Settlement for a Trip & Fall?
The specific amounts of trip and fall settlements are often confidential and not disclosed to the public, making it challenging to determine the absolute highest settlement for such a case globally. While some cases, especially those that go to trial, can have their award amounts publicly reported, many are settled out of court with non-disclosure agreements.
Factors that can contribute to a higher settlement include the severity of the injury, the extent of the negligence involved, the future medical costs and loss of earnings, and the quality of the legal representation.
How Long Does a Trip & Fall Case Take To Settle in Canada?
How long it takes for a trip and fall case to settle in Canada can vary widely based on multiple factors. Coming to an optimal settlement could take anywhere from several months in straightforward claims to several years in more complicated cases.
Factors that could have an influence on the timeline for a settlement are:
- Complexity of the Case: More complex cases with multiple parties, severe injuries, or disputed facts can take longer.
- Medical Recovery: It’s often advisable to wait until the victim reaches maximum medical improvement to understand the full extent of damages.
- Legal Strategy: Sometimes, delaying a settlement can be a strategic decision. By waiting, your lawyer can gather more evidence, build a stronger case, and potentially leverage a more favorable settlement amount. This strategy requires patience, but it can yield significant benefits if executed correctly.
- Willingness to Settle: If both sides are keen on a quick resolution, they might settle faster. However, if the insurance company or defendant is uncooperative, it can prolong the process.
It’s always important to consult a trip and fall lawyer to get an estimated timeline based on your circumstances. They’ll also highlight the importance of not rushing the process, ensuring you receive fair compensation for your injuries.
Is There a Limit to Pain & Suffering?
Yes, Canada has a cap on compensation for non-pecuniary damages—namely, pain and suffering. This cap was established by the Supreme Court of Canada in 1978 in the cases of Andrews v. Grand & Toy Alberta Ltd., Arnold v. Teno, and Thornton v. School Dist. No. 57.
The cap was set at CAD $100,000 but, accounting for inflation, is about CAD $450,000 as of 2023. This means the award for pain and suffering won’t exceed this inflation-adjusted amount, even for the most grievous injuries.
The exact award depends on various factors, such as injury severity, age, and the injury’s impact on one’s life. Some provinces also have deductibles on pain and suffering damages for specific cases, which can affect the net compensation an injured person receives. It’s crucial to consult a trip and fall lawyer to understand the potential compensation in your situation.
At Klein Lawyers, we can guide you through the complexities of the slips, trips, and falls that caused your injury and help you build a strong case. Contact us today for a FREE consultation. Let us help you get the compensation you deserve.
As you can see, many benefits come from working with a lawyer as you pursue your claim. To learn more and discuss your case, contact Klein Lawyers today for a FREE consultation. We can get to work on your case immediately.
Please call Klein Lawyers at (604) 874-7171 today to speak to a trip and fall lawyer. Our team serves clients in Vancouver and other areas of British Columbia.