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About Slip and fall Cases
Texas law is not on your side.
The legislature and courts across the State of Texas have made it very difficult for victims to recover damages in slip and fall claims. You must generally demonstrate the at-fault party knew or should have known of a dangerous condition and that they owed you a legal duty to warn you or make the condition safe based on your status on the grounds.
Mullen & Mullen Law Firm in Dallas has represented hundreds of clients and won millions in settlements for people physically hurt at office buildings, apartment complexes, department, convenient, and Grocery stores, restaurants, and other retail outlets like Walmart.
We have the financial means, knowledge, skills, and expertise to properly develop your case. Our Dallas lawyers will establish the facts necessary to obtain a settlement for your slip and fall injury.
In fact, our Senior Associate Attorney, Joseph Morrison, served as counsel of record in what VerdictSearch determined to be a top 5 premises liability verdict in Texas against Conagra Foods, a Fortune 500 company.
What should you do immediately after a slip and fall accident?
Do you have a premises liability or a negligent activity claim?
The first thing to establish is if you have a premises liability or a negligent activity claim. This short video explains the difference between the two.
When you slip and fall on someone’s property in Dallas, whether it’s a local park, government building, private or public business, or just another person’s home, how and where the accident occurred depends on which body of law governs your case.
If you were hurt at the same time the negligent act or omission occurred you have a negligent activity claim. That’s significant because proving the defendant breached a duty of safety in a slip and fall case is less difficult with regard to negligent activity claims than in premises liability.
All you have to prove is:
- The defendant owed a general “duty” of care (as measured by what a reasonably prudent ordinary person or business would do (or not do) under the same or similar circumstances);
- The defendant “breached” that duty;
- The breach “caused” your accident (as measured by the “but for” test and the “foreseeability” test); and
- You suffered and sustained “damages” (as the law delineates and defines).
Example of a negligent activity claim: You are standing in a grocery store looking at merchandise when an employee, obviously not paying attention, accidentally pushes a chain of shopping carts striking you in the back and knocking you down. Here, the accident occurred at the same time as the negligent act. To establish the duty of care was breached you must simply prove that a reasonably prudent store employee would have paid attention while pushing a long chain of shopping carts. You can argue common sense, store training policies and procedures, and attempt to get the employee to admit he or she should have been paying attention.
Are witnesses important in slip and fall cases?
Absolutely. Witnesses can sometimes make or break a Dallas slip and fall case. It is imperative that you retain information on all possible witnesses as they can often be utilized to demonstrate the store knew of a dangerous condition or should have discovered a dangerous condition.
Remember: Even if no one witnessed your slip and fall accident you can still establish facts necessary to support and win your personal injury claim. In the vast majority of cases your own testimony alone can establish the facts necessary to support your claim for damages.
Does it matter who was around me when I slipped and fell?
It might. For example, if two employees were in close proximity to the water on the floor in the above example it would be easier to argue the employees knew of the water on the floor or should have discovered the water on the floor (and made it safe). Think back to your slip and fall accident. Were any employees stationed near you when you fell? Was the area where you fell located in a main aisle or section of the store? Was there anything located near where you fell suggesting one or more employee(s) had been in the area immediately before your fall?
Case Example 1: Mullen & Mullen Law Firm represented a woman who was hurt at Walmart. She slipped and fell in a puddle of water that leaked in from the ceiling. Our lawyers argued the area where she fell was in eyesight view of three employees based on the evidence developed.
Case Example 2: Our Dallas slip and fall lawyers represented a man who slipped and fell at a Kroger grocery store due to water on the floor in one of the aisles. Mullen & Mullen Law Firm argued that a pallet with products to be stocked close to where the water was demonstrated a store employee had been in the aisle prior to our client’s fall and should have discovered the dangerous condition.
Does it matter what the employee(s) said after the Dallas slip and fall accident?
It might. For example, if the store manager acknowledged that he or she had told one or more employee(s) to clean up a spill prior to you falling in it that would obviously suggest that the store had actual knowledge of the dangerous condition. Sometimes statements can establish constructive notice – meaning that the store should have discovered the dangerous condition. For example, if you slipped and fell 5 feet from a cooler and an employee acknowledged the cooler always leaked you could suggest the water leaked from the cooler long enough to travel that distance and an employee should have discovered it sooner.
Remember: Constructive notice can be established in a multitude of ways. For example, if the puddle you slipped in had multiple “tracks” through it you could argue that the puddle existed long enough for multiple people to encounter it.
An example: We previously discussed the woman we represented who was hurt at Walmart when she slipped and fell in a puddle of water that leaked in from the ceiling. Our Dallas slip and fall lawyers demonstrated multiple employees had a view of the aisle in question. Mullen & Mullen still had to establish that the puddle of water in question existed long enough that the store employees should have discovered it. Our attorneys argued that the size of the puddle (which was the size of a medium pizza) coupled with the slow leak (dripping every 3-4 seconds) necessarily meant that the puddle accumulated over a long period of time.
Who are the potential at-fault parties in a Dallas slip and fall accident?
Many potential parties could be responsible for your injuries. These parties could differ based on the type of establishment you were injured at. For example:
- Retail Store: The owner of the building and the possessor of the building are both potential parties.
- Government Building: The city, county, an agency, or the State of Texas may be potential parties. It is important to remember governmental units and entities often have strict requirements for filing a Notice of Claim within a specified time period. If you fail to meet the notice requirements in your slip and fall claim you might be barred from receiving damages.
- Apartment Complex: The owner of the apartment complex as well as a property management company may be potential parties.
- Residence: The owner(s) of the home or tenants may be potential parties. It is important to remember that most homeowners have insurance to cover these losses.
In short, the owner of the premises, manager, and any possessor of the premises could be liable for your injuries.
How can our Dallas slip and fall lawyers help?
Our attorneys access to extensive databases utilized to identify the owner(s) and/or manager(s) of the premises. Our lawyers use this information to quickly send out spoliation of evidence letters to potential parties directing them to preserve all evidence that could be helpful to your slip and fall accident case. For example, many stores have surveillance cameras that might have captured your fall. It is of critical importance that you retain legal counsel quickly as this video footage is often recorded over after a specified period of time.
What Was Your Status on The Property: Invitee, Licensee, or Trespasser?
Does it matter what you were doing on the property at the time of your Dallas slip and fall?
Absolutely. Your legal status on the property in question dictates the duties owed to you by the potential responsible parties. In addition, it also dictates whether comparative negligence could prevent you from recovering damages.
Who is an invitee in a Dallas slip and fall case?
An Invitee is an “invited guest.” You’re an invitee when you’re on a property, premises or business by invitation. The invitation can either be direct (in other words “express”) or “implied,” (like when you’re expected to enter stores, restaurants and other establishments open to the public for the purpose of shopping, eating or entertainment.)
An Example: You go to Best Buy to buy a television. While in the store you slip and fall and injure yourself. You would be classified as an “Invitee” because you were on the premises at the implied invitation of the store to purchase products. Best Buy is held open to the public and your presence was mutually beneficial to Best Buy.
Another Example: If you went into a gas station simply to use the restroom, and didn’t intend on purchasing anything – you would not be classified as an Invitee.
What duties are owed to an invitee?
The owner (or whoever is in control of the premises) owes you, as an invitee, the duty to not only warn about or make safe unreasonably dangerous conditions which they actually know about, but also they owe you the duty to reasonably inspect for and discover unreasonably dangerous conditions then provide warning or make them safe. You still have the right to a cause of action if the dangerous condition was open and obvious, but the defendant can argue that some percentage (up to 100%) of your slip and fall injuries were your own fault – that you were also negligent. It’s ultimately up to the jury to assign percentages of fault if the parties can’t negotiate and agree themselves.
Remember: If a dangerous condition was open and obvious you might be prevented from obtaining a recovery. For example, if you slipped and fell in a puddle of water that had been marked off by three bright orange cones you would be unlikely to recover damages.
Who is a licensee in a Dallas slip and fall case?
You’re a licensee when you’re on property that is not open to the general public but the owner of the property has either expressly or impliedly allowed you to enter, usually for a purpose other than a commercial one. Examples include, but are not limited to, when you’re on site at work, when you had to be in possession of a ticket to enter a sporting arena or stadium to watch a game, and when you’re a social guest at someone’s home or private party.
What duties are owed to a licensee?
The owner (or whoever is in control of the premises) has a duty to warn you of – or make safe – unreasonably dangerous conditions they have actual knowledge of. They don’t, however, have a duty to inspect for dangerous conditions. In addition, if you are found comparatively negligent as a licensee you will likely not recover damages.
Who is a trespasser in a Dallas Slip and Fall Case?
You are a trespasser if you have no legal right to be on the premises or are on the premises without any permission whatsoever – express or implied.
What duties are owed to a trespasser?
Essentially none. The only practical exception is for an attractive nuisance. For example, a child drawn to a neighbor’s water slide and the neighbor fails to gate off access to it.
How do you establish actual or constructive knowledge of a dangerous condition?
Establishing that the at-fault store or establishment had actual knowledge of a dangerous condition in a Dallas slip and fall claim is often difficult. It is not impossible though. Below are some situations where actual knowledge could be alleged:
- Employee Statements: If an employee admits they knew about the dangerous condition prior to your fall.
- Store or its Employee Created the Dangerous Condition: Actual knowledge is presumed if the store or one or more of its employees created the dangerous condition in question. For example, actual knowledge could be presumed if a McDonald’s employee mopped the customer restroom and left without placing a yellow warning sign and you slipped and fell. You would need, of course, to demonstrate the floor was freshly mopped. This would be suggested if the whole floor was uniformly wet.
- Circumstantial Evidence: Actual knowledge might be demonstrated by demonstrating that an employee attempted to clean up a spill but did so in a negligent manner. For example, our Dallas slip and fall attorneys represented an elderly woman who slipped and fell at a movie theater. Mullen & Mullen was able to use witness statements indicating paper towels were on the floor near the spill to demonstrate an employee had undertook to clean up the spill but had failed to eliminate all of it prior to our client’s fall.
- Video Footage: Many businesses and retail establishments have surveillance camera systems. Our attorneys can request video footage of the slip and fall incident if exists and examine the footage to determine if any store employee(s) walked by a spill, for example.
If you are an Invitee on premises you don’t have to show the store or business had actual knowledge of a dangerous condition to recover damages. You can demonstrate that the store or business should have known of the dangerous condition, and warned you of it or made it safe.
- Proximity to the Spill: Was a store employee or agent of the at-fault party located near where you fell immediately prior to your fall? If so, you can argue the employee or agent should have discovered the condition. For example, if a grocery store employee was stocking items in the same aisle where you fell when you fell. Also, if employees were stationed near where you fell or had a view of where you fell prior to the incident it is easier to suggest the spill should have been eliminated or that they should have warned you by placing a warning cone near the spill.
Remember: Most retail employees have a duty to monitor their surroundings to discover dangerous conditions. Many establishments have policies and procedures established for dealing with spills. For example, many establishments instruct employee(s) who discover a dangerous condition to “guard” it until they can get the attention of a co-worker to assist them. Further, some establishments instruct employees to place store products or merchandise on the floor around the spill to make sure customers are aware of it until it can be eliminated.
- Conspicuousness of the Spill: How big was the spill? It is obviously easier to suggest that a store employee should have discovered a large pizza-sized puddle of water as opposed to a single drop of water on the floor. What color was the liquid on the floor? It is obviously easier to suggest a store employee should have discovered a red-tinted liquid as opposed to a small amount of clear liquid on a white tile floor.
- Passage of Time: The passage of time can be used to establish constructive knowledge of a dangerous condition.
- If a 2 foot long trail of water from a leaking freezer led to a basketball-sized puddle it could be suggested the water was on the floor an extended period of time.
- If you slipped and fell on ice cream on the floor and the ice cream had congealed prior to your slip and fall.
- If you tripped and fell in a deep pothole in the parking lot – since potholes do not form instantaneously.
How can our slip and fall lawyers help?
Establishing constructive notice can be challenging and requires a detailed discussion of the unique facts and circumstances of your case. Mullen & Mullen in Dallas has many years of experience in analyzing case facts to establish the requisite notice. Our law firm employs a full-time accident investigator who will gather evidence to aid the development of your case.
Does the reason you were at the premises in question impact the duties owed to you in a Dallas slip and fall case?
Yes. Your status as an Invitee, Licensee, or Trespasser will dictate the duties owed to you by the at-fault party or parties.
Remember: If you are an Invitee (such as if you were shopping at a grocery store or at a restaurant to purchase food) the at-fault party owes you a duty to warn of known dangerous conditions and/or make known dangerous conditions safe as well as a duty to discover dangerous conditions on the premises. If you are a Licensee (social guest at someone else’s home, for example) the at-fault party only has a duty to warn you of a known dangerous condition and/or to make known dangerous conditions safe.
Remember: The duty to make safe and/or the duty to warn will differ from case to case. For example, in a slip and fall accident case where water was on the floor the duty to warn would include placing an orange cone or yellow “wet floor” sign near a spill. The duty to make safe would include – obviously – having an employee eliminate the spill. If the dangerous condition was a pothole, for example, the duty to warn would include placing a sign near the pothole to alert customers to its presence while the duty to make safe would – obviously – entail repairing the pothole so that the parking surface was uniform.
Obtaining Medical Treatment or Therapy after an Accident
If you don’t have health insurance, or money to pay your deductible, can you still get medical treatment or therapy after your Dallas slip and fall accident?
Yes. Our lawyers understand millions of Americans still lack health insurance. Mullen & Mullen also realizes the high cost of medical services and outrageous deductibles could limit your ability to get the medical care you need and deserve. Our law firm has relationships with a variety of medical professionals who specialize in treating accident injury victims.
Will you be required to pay for these services at the time they are performed or rendered?
No. The medical professionals and organizations our lawyers have relationships with will not bill you for services until the conclusion of your premises liability claim.
What are common injuries people sustain in Slip and fall accidents?
The following injuries are fairly common in claims where clients have been injured at a work site, office building, apartment complex, department store, grocery store, convenience store, restaurant, or other retail establishment:
- Herniated discs
- Disc extrusion
- Spinal injury requiring a fusion or discectomy;
- Torn meniscus of the knee;
- Torn rotator cuff;
- Sprain/Strain of the spine;
- Fractured or broken bones.
Of course, people can get injured in countless ways and sustain various injuries from falls. The above list is not exhaustive.
How can our Slip and fall lawyers help?
Mullen & Mullen in Dallas will establish the mechanism of your injury. In particular, in these cases, how you fell and/or landed and/or the positioning of your body can impact your claim value.
Obtaining a Law Loan
Can you get an advance on a case in exchange for an interest in the potential settlement proceeds?
Yes. Most law loan companies, however, are more hesitant to advance money on these types of cases as opposed to a motor vehicle collision case.
How can our lawyers help?
Most law loan companies will not advance you money unless you have an attorney. Mullen & Mullen has established relationships with law loan companies who trust our ability to evaluate premises liability and negligent activity cases.
Establishing Your Economic Damages
What economic damages might you be entitled to in a Slip and fall case?
Available damages depend on the individual case. Economic damages are those that are readily ascertainable. Generally, the following economic damages are recoverable:
- Damages for the medical bills you have already paid or incurred;
- Damages for the medical bills you will incur in the future as a result of your injuries;
- Damages for lost wages if you missed time from work due to your injuries; and
- Damages for loss of earning capacity in the future.
An Example: If you are a truck driver and are injured in a fall and – as a result of your injuries – cannot sit for an extended period of time you would be unlikely to be able to continue your employment as a truck driver. You would likely need a light job standing on your feet. If the difference between what you made as a truck driver and what you made at your new job was $40,000.00 a year you would be entitled to the difference in pay multiplied by the number of expected remaining work years. This would constitute your lost earning capacity – although it would be discounted to its net present value.
Establishing Your Non-Economic Damages in Slip and fall cases
Available damages depend on the individual case. Non-economic damages are those that are not readily ascertainable. Generally, the following non-economic damages are recoverable:
- Damages for your pain and suffering in the past;
- Damages for the pain and suffering you will experience in the future;
- Damages for physical impairment in the past;
- Damages for physical impairment you will experience in the future;
- Damages for mental anguish in the past;
- Damages for mental anguish you will experience in the future; and
- Punitive damages – although these damages are very difficult to obtain.
Contact our attorneys today to discuss the specifics of your potential claim. Find out how our law firm with 39 years of experience can help.
Call (214) 747-5240 now or use the contact form on this page to request a free consultation. There is never a fee unless we obtain a financial recovery for you.
Shane V. Mullen is an attorney licensed by the State of Texas for the general practice of law, and the Managing Partner at Mullen & Mullen Law Firm in Dallas, TX. His firm focuses exclusively on personal injury law and has been in business for 40 years. Before becoming a lawyer, Shane worked for his father as an accident injury claims investigator.