Accidents happen and they happen to everyone. Have truer words ever been spoken? Of course some accidents are minor, some are major and then there are those whose full severity isn’t known until sometime after the fact (such as a neck or back injury suffered from a motor vehicle collision for example).
Regardless of how serious they might be, not all accidents are unavoidable, however. If you have been injured in a slip and fall accident, you might understand what we mean.
Just to be sure, however, we’ll explain. Merriam-Webster Dictionary provides the following definition for accident in a legal context:
“An unexpected happening causing loss or injury which is not due to any fault or misconduct on the part of the person injured but for which legal relief may be sought.”
Factors of a Slip and Fall Accident
A slip and fall accident (and the similar trip and fall accident) is something that can occur anytime and anywhere. You might slip and fall in your bathroom, trip and fall over wiring on the floor in an office, or find yourself flat on your back because your feet shot out from under you on an icy patch of sidewalk.
Whether you have grounds to seek legal relief for any injuries you suffered will depend in large part on whether your accident was preventable and/or avoidable.
If the accident occurred solely because of your carelessness or disregard for your safety, then there is probably no legal remedy available to you. If, however, you were injured because another party owed you a responsibility to exercise a standard of care and failed to do so, the accident you experienced may entitle you to seek legal relief. In that case, you should seriously consider hiring a Bergen County slip and fall attorney.
A slip and fall attorney is part of a wider class of what are referred to as personal injury lawyers. These attorneys represent people that have been injured because of motor vehicle accidents, the use of unsafe products, medical malpractice and accidents that occur on the property of others. Not all lawyers are the best fit to successfully represent you in a slip and fall accident case.
To prevail in a slip and fall matter, an attorney will be required to establish the following:
- Another party had a duty to exercise a standard of care by either acting or refraining from acting in a certain way that would prevent you from being injured.
- The other party did not perform that duty (this is known as negligence).
- You had an accident as a direct or indirect result of the other party’s negligence.
- You suffered a real injury as a result of the accident.
- You were not more than 50% responsible for the accident or for the extent of your injury.?
For example, if a landlord was clearly responsible for a slip and fall accident but you suffered only a minor injury that you aggravated or made worse by not following doctor’s orders, for example, you might be prevented from financial recovery because of the accident.
Hiring a Slip and Fall Attorney
If your situation involves all of these factors, then hiring a slip and fall attorney in Bergen County is recommended. Here are some things to keep in mind when deciding which lawyer to hire:
How long has the attorney practiced law?
A lawyer who has practiced for many years and has represented many clients is likely to have more extensive experience than will the lawyer who has only been handling cases for a shorter period of time.
How experienced is the attorney with slip and fall matters?
Considering the fact that the success or failure of your case rests in large part on the performance of your lawyer, you will definitely want one who has represented people in situations similar to yours. The number of cases handled is as important, if not more so, than the number of years spent representing slip and fall clients.
Is the attorney equally competent litigating cases as he or she is negotiating them?
A satisfactory and relatively quick settlement is, of course, always preferable to a protracted, often costly trial process. However, a settlement isn’t always available. It may not even be the best solution in your specific case.
Attorneys who are as confident in front of judge and/or jury as they are at the negotiating table give you the biggest bang for the buck, so to speak. They can also provide you with a sense of comfort that everything that can be done will be done in a skilled manner.
Remember, the attorney’s job is to represent your interests and preserve your rights to the maximum extent possible under the law.
Exactly how successful is the lawyer?
Any attorney who is hesitant or uncomfortable discussing their success rate should probably be avoided. Feel free to question the total number of cases handled and how many of those were settled.
Of those cases that went to court, how many resulted in a win for the client? If you believe the lawyer is not being completely honest when responding to these questions, you should consider that a red flag and dig a little deeper.
What does the lawyer think of your case?
Some lawyers are more discriminating than others when it comes to taking on a case. Lawyers who take on more cases have a greater opportunity there to make money simply by settling as many cases as possible in as short a time as possible.
Not only can this result in an outcome less favorable to you than it could be, it may also mean that the lawyer devotes less time and effort to your case than others with a greater potential for financial recovery. Needless to say, this is not what you are looking for.
Be sure the lawyer addresses the strengths and weaknesses of your case.
Ask for specifics. What additional evidence does the attorney consider necessary in order to improve your chances of a successful outcome? Is there any cause for concern? If the lawyer cannot convince you that he or she is confident about your case, how can you feel that way?
Does the lawyer appear trustworthy?
Sounds silly, does it not? After all, if you can’t trust your lawyer, who can you trust? As it turns out, that is exactly why this question is so important. Trust is the most important component of the relationship between attorney and client.
Without it there can be no honest communication and without honest communication there can be no effective representation. At the end of the day, you lose.
If you have any questions about your particular situation, be sure to contact an attorney at Fontanella, Benevento, Galluccio & Smith with experience in slip and fall accidents in Bergen County.