I should know.
It was just before Christmas, and I was helping my son with his paper route during a day of bad weather. We live in the northern climes, in a snowbelt, so we get hit hard with snow and ice every year.
On this particular day there had been mild weather the day before, followed by an overnight freeze. There was ice everywhere. And as diligent as a person can be with regard to scanning the ground for ice buried under snow, you can't see everything.
I was walking up the paved driveway of a home on an adjacent street. This homeowner, back in the summer, had rolled a high-gloss, black finish onto his driveway to protect the asphalt. It glinted in the sun, even when it was dry. As it was on this day when, both arms laden with newspapers, I proceeded to walk up the driveway.
I didn't see the ice, because it was of the 'black ice' variety that you don't see. And because the driveway was dark, very black and with the high-gloss finish, the ice blended in.
I was a sitting duck. Or, at least a walking duck soon to be a reclining duck. In the instant I felt both feet slide out from under me, I knew I was about to go down hard, although I did not know the extent. But I knew that it was going to be bad, and it was.
I fell backwards and landed with a thud on the hard pavement, flat on my back. Actually, not a thud but a 'crack' as I heard my spine at the base of my neck, crunch on impact. With both arms laden with heavy papers, I had nothing to break my fall. It could have been worse—I could have sustained a serious concussion. Luckily, my head didn't hit. But the rest of me hit hard.
Since my slip and fall I have been under the care of a chiropractor. Thankfully my treatments, and expenses are covered through insurance. That's one of the reasons why, in this case, I did not elect to file a claim against the owner of the home. Another is that my neck pain, X-rays showed, is from a pre-existing condition aggravated by the fall. The owner of the home is a teacher at my child's school. And as a well-known member of my community and of the local media, my name and potential claim would be big news in town. I'm not sure if my particular case warrants that.
The fact remains, however, that my fall was caused by the negligence of someone else. And more often than not, slips and falls can occur and can result in life-altering injuries.
Often, falls happen on the premises of stores and businesses, and caused by the negligence of staff whose job is to keep the floor area dry, and free from obstructions.
A few years ago, in California, a woman went shopping at a local food store and slipped on a piece of lettuce resting on the floor of the produce section. She went down face-first and landed on her right knee and hands. Luckily she was not seriously inured.
But she could have been. She could have been also, pregnant. Imagine if she had landed on her stomach…
In consulting with California slip and fall attorney, the woman determined that she had a case if a store employee caused the lettuce to be on the floor—or if a customer caused that lettuce to be on the floor, and it remained there for an inordinate period of time.
However, in California the slip and fall victim would not have had a case if a customer had dropped the lettuce, and the victim had come along and fallen, say, 30 seconds later.
Thus such cases can, and must be very factual. It depends on the circumstances, and the evidence that is available. Can the circumstances be substantiated?
In my case, I was in a hurry with a tight timeline before I had to get back home, shower, change into a suit and get to work. A day of work, due to prior commitments, that would not have been easy to miss. And so, after I fell and realized that I could still walk and function, I raced through the remainder of my deliveries and got on with my day.
The pain, which often happens in such cases, didn't start until a few days later. By then the offending ice on the driveway was gone. I hadn't bothered to take a picture, even though I had my camera phone with me. And there were no witnesses apparent. Were I to canvass the neighborhood to determine if anyone had seen my fall through a window, the fall happened so long ago it's hard to know if memories would serve the details.
My case is somewhat unique. It can also serve as an example of what NOT to do, if you fall and become injured.
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Evidence, and information need to be gathered and presented to a slip and fall California attorney FIRST, before the owner of the offending premises is approached. Never give evidence to the potential defendants. They could destroy it, clean up the mess. If there are no photographs or witnesses, it's your word against theirs'.
Every slip and fall is a unique situation. At the end of the day, however, the capacity to launch a successful claim hinges on the availability of evidence and information, and getting to a slip and fall lawyer right away.
Otherwise your slip and fall claim, might slip up…