Slip & Fall Accident Laws in Kansas
Like any other accident, slip and fall injuries hit you out of the blue. In case of other mishaps, it quickly becomes clear who should be blamed for the unfortunate occurrence. However, with slip and fall injuries, victims are often left with medical bills and lingering ambiguity over who is accountable for their pain and financial losses. In fact, often the injured person blames himself/herself entirely for the injuries and does not seek compensation that he/she rightfully deserves.
Are you a victim of a slip and fall accident?
Any situation in which a person sustains injuries due to falling, tripping or slipping qualifies as premises liability, as long as it can be proved that the owner of the commercial or the residential property exercised negligence in maintaining the area inside or outside the home, shop or office.
These accidents can be caused by a host of conditions such as wet floors, bad flooring, weather related hazards or poor lighting or any form of structural damage or defect. While some of these mishaps don’t cause serious physical harm, there have been cases in which victims suffered life threatening injuries and permanent disability due to such falls.
Will a property liability claim be worth the time and money?
As a plaintiff, you also share the responsibility to be cautious. So, if any action of yours has inadvertently led to the accident, you may or may not be entitled to compensation. It is also the responsibility of the plaintiff to prove that the accident was attributed to the hazardous conditions created by owner’s negligence and that the property owner knew about the hazardous defects or conditions and did nothing to correct it or warn people about them.
To understand this better, consider the following situation. You slip on spilled milk at the local grocery store. The only time you can claim compensation is if you can prove that you could not see the milk spill on the white floor and that the business owner/ manager knew about the spill and did nothing to warn you of the dangerous situation or to clean the spill so as to not endanger the customers.
Is there a time limit for filing slip and fall injury claims?
Yes, the statute of limitations for personal injuries applies to slip and fall accidents as well. In Kansas, you get two years to file a court case to seek restitution for your injuries. Typically, this period starts from the day of the accident. However, if the injuries are hidden, the clock may start from the date of discovery of such injuries. But, it would be best to consult an experienced attorney to discuss if this exception would be available in your situation.
What kind of compensation can you collect in case of slip and fall injuries?
The “comparative fault” law applies to all personal injury disputes filed in the state of Kansas. This means that your compensation amount will be governed by your share of the blame for the mishap.
Let’s look at the milk spill accident one more time. Suppose you did not see the white milk on the black tiled floor because you were too busy reading the food label on a product that you wanted to buy.
Of course, the fact that the milk spill was not cleaned puts the business owner/manager at fault. But the fact that you did not notice the spill, which would have been easily discernible had you been attentive, also means that you are partly to be blamed for the accident.
If the jury/judge finds that you hold 20% responsibility for the accident, you will only be able to collect 80% of the compensation awarded to you. For example, if you win $1000 in damages, you will only get $800.
You also need to understand the implications of this law when the feuding parties are equally to be blamed for the mishap. If you are 50% responsible for the accident, the law will drop your damage award amount to 0%, effectively blocking your chances of seeking compensation for your injuries.
How are damages calculated?
The plaintiff can seek compensation for special damages as well as pain and suffering or non-economic damages. There is a cap of $250,000 in case of the latter, but special damages are calculated on the specific dollar value of the medical and rehabilitation expenses incurred by the victim, wages and earnings lost, cost of future treatment and wages, loss of physical ability and other direct costs/expenses related to the injury.
How is fault determined?
To hold a home or business owner accountable for the injuries suffered by him/her in a trip or slip and fall accident, the plaintiff has to prove that the owner of the premises or an employee/representative acting on his behalf:
- – Caused the spill, torn spot, flooring damage or slippery surface or left items that can be tripped on in a place where they can come underfoot.
- – Knew about the dangers created by the structural defects or surface damage and conditions, but did nothing to correct it.
- – Should have known about the hazardous circumstances created because any reasonable person would have anticipated or discovered them and removed them.
Remember that all negligence cases hinge on the claim that the defendant did not act reasonably despite bearing the responsibility to do so.
What should you do after a slip and fall accident?
The very first thing to do is to call for emergency medical assistance. Also, inform the owners of the property or their employees or representatives of the accident. Collect contact information of all those who witnessed the fall/accident; you will need this later.
If you have a cell phone camera, take pictures of the scene of the incident, including the hazard that caused you to slip/trip and fall. This could be a flooring defect, weather linked condition or poor lighting; a picture will indeed speak a thousand words in this scenario.
Get a copy of the accident report that you filed with the owner of the property or the manager before you leave the scene of the incident. Finally, get in touch with an able attorney who has experience in dealing with premises liability cases.
When you are in a slip and fall accident, it is imperative to get an attorney to fight on your behalf, so that the defendant/property owner and his/her attorneys don’t get the upper hand in the legal battle. The last thing you want is to have them dictate the terms of the settlement to you.
An experienced attorney will thoroughly investigate the matter and even get expert opinion on the accident and the circumstances that led up to it. In fact, this move alone is enough to make the other side see that you mean business. In the majority of instances, such lawsuits are settled out of court, which means that an attorney will be able to get you the compensation that you are entitled to.
So, don’t wait and let your injuries take you by surprise. Get a thorough medical checkup done and do not ignore any aches and pains, regardless of how innocuous they may seem.