Slip and fall accidents are common. In most cases, slipping and falling doesn’t result in anything more than a sore bottom and minor scrapes. Unfortunately, the injuries sustained from a slip and fall accident can also be much more dangerous with some taking months or years to heal. If they heal at all.

If a slip and fall was due to somebody else’s failure to maintain their duty of care over a designated walking space, then the law provides you with a way to seek compensation for the injuries you suffered. We’ll look at how the law does this below, as well as how long you have to seek damages from a slip and fall case, after seeing what causes them in the first place.

What Causes a Slip and Fall?

A slip and fall can happen for a variety of reasons. Some of us are just clumsy and have a tendency to fall a lot. But there are a number of different slip and fall causes that are worth pointing out because they suggest a failure to maintain an adequate duty of care on behalf of a second party. Frequent causes of slip and falls include:

  • Wet Surfaces: It’s easy to take a fall when walking on a slippery floor. That’s why it’s important for janitors and cleaning staff to put out a sign to warn you about the condition. A failure to put out a sign after mopping a floor is a clear failure on behalf of those responsible.
  • Poor Lighting: It’s not easy to maneuver in the dark. Obstacles that would be clear and easily avoidable with proper lighting quickly turn into slip and fall risks when there isn’t enough light. Businesses that are open to the public have to have a certain standard of lighting. Otherwise, their negligence can lead to an incident like a slip and fall.
  • Uneven Surfaces: Pavement cracks, floors get worn down, and a number of other factors lead to erosion of walking surfaces. It’s easy to catch your foot and fall on things like these, things which should have been fixed by those managing the premises.

There are numerous other ways a slip and fall could happen. The above three, however, make up for many of the slip and fall cases caused by negligence.

In order to succeed in a slip and fall case, the defendant must have breached its duty of care. In addition, that negligence must have caused the slip and fall. However, the fall doesn’t need to have been caused exclusively by that negligence. More on this when we look at comparative negligence.

What is the Statute of Limitations for a Slip and Fall in Maine?

A statute of limitations is a state law that sets a limit on how much time can pass from an event happening and that event being the basis for a lawsuit. Every state has a different statute of limitations on crimes, so if you are outside of Maine then this doesn’t help.

But here in Maine, the Maine Revised Statutes Title 14 Section 752 covers just about everything you need to know about the statute of limitations for a slip and fall case. In Maine, victims generally have six years from the date of injury to bring a claim. Keep in mind, however, that there are exceptions to this rule. For example, if a municipality is the defendant, the law requires the victim to initiate the claim within a year.

Some injuries don’t present themselves immediately. You may slip and fall and think that you are fine without realizing that the damage you did will cause long-term effects that will need further treatment. Having a window of opportunity to see and live with the long-term effects of an accident can allow you to more appropriately judge whether a lawsuit is necessary or not.

If you suffer a slip and fall, you should see a doctor. This will give you a professional medical record that can be helpful in proving your case in front of a judge later on. Even if you aren’t immediately leaning towards pursuing a lawsuit, it’s a good idea to keep your medical records from further visits looking at the injury and the long-term effects so that if you want to pursue a lawsuit down the road you’ll have useful records.

What is Comparative Negligence in the Case of a Slip and Fall?

In slip and fall cases, defendants often argue that the plaintiffs are partially or completely responsible for their own injuries.

Even if you are partially responsible for your fall, you may be able to be compensated. Maine is a “modified comparative negligence” state, meaning that a plaintiff may recover as long as she is less culpable than the defendant. However, in cases where a plaintiff is comparatively at fault, the jury will have the opportunity to reduce the plaintiff’s award.

It’s important to note that, despite the claims of defendants to the contrary, plaintiffs are not always comparatively at fault for their falls. A plaintiff is not comparatively at fault simply because she could have avoided the fall, or because others may not have fallen under the same circumstances. Rather, the defendant must prove that the plaintiff was negligent–that she, like the defendant, did something wrong.

I’ve Suffered a Slip and Fall, Should I Sue?

It depends. Every circumstance is unique. However, it never hurts to speak with an attorney. We can help you determine whether you should make a claim.

Keep in mind that not every claim against an insurance company turns into a lawsuit. One of the benefits of retaining a law firm that regularly and aggressly sues cases–like ours–is that it can make it easier to resolve the matter without a lawsuit.

If we believe that you are a viable claim, Gideon Asen do everything we can to ensure you are fully and fairly compensated for your injuries.