Prescott Personal Injury Attorneys Discuss Legal Options After a Slip and Fall
A personal injury attorney will be able to navigate the insurance claim process and the legal system in a way that non-lawyers simply won’t know how.
Chris Goodnow, a founding member of Goodnow McKay, is one of the best personal injury attorneys in Phoenix. In his years of practice Phoenix and Prescott, he too has noticed that slip and fall numbers are up. According to Attorney Goodnow, unfortunately, more falls mean more injuries and more medical bills. Still, personal injury victims do have options, and Attorney Goodnow says that because of the deadlines involved in slip and fall claims, it’s important to learn of them earlier rather than later.
Do You Have a Slip and Fall Claim?
Attorney Goodnow cautions that not all injuries are the same, legally speaking. First, you have to prove that whoever owned or controlled the property was negligent. To show the property was negligent, you have to prove the elements of negligence, including whether the property owner had a duty to make sure the property was safe for you.
Elements of a Slip and Fall Negligence Claim
The elements of a negligence case are:
- Duty: the property owner owed a duty of care to you.
- Breach of Duty: the property owner breached that duty.
- Cause: the breach caused your injuries.
- Damages: the breach resulted in injuries that you can be compensated for.
To recover any money, you have to prove the above elements. In slip and fall cases, you will need to show that there was some hazard on the property that the property owner had a duty to remove or at least make visitors aware of with appropriate signage.
Although slip and fall cases are common, proving these elements can be complicated. Prescott personal injury attorneys run into cases all the time where property owners argue that they aren’t responsible because the hazards on their property were “obvious.” Even just showing whether a hazard was obvious or not can become central to whether you have a slip and fall claim.
How You Arrived on the Property Impacts Slip and Fall Negligence
Whether you have a slip and fall case will also depend on how you entered the property where you fell. Trespassers, for example, don’t have the same rights as someone who was invited to the property. In Arizona, there are three kinds of property visitors:
- Invitees: Visitors who come to the property for business purposes
- Licensees: Visitors who come to the property for leisure purposes
- Trespassers: Visitors who did not have permission to come to the property
DIY or Hire a Personal Injury Attorney
If you have been in a slip and fall, you have the option of either representing yourself, or hiring a personal injury lawyer.
Justin McKay, the other founder of Goodnow Mckay and also a well-respected Prescott personal injury attorney, says he understands that some clients prefer to try and handle their slip and fall cases alone. In some cases, injured parties simply get overwhelmed by just how many accident lawyers in Arizona there are.
Although he advises against representing yourself in a case, he says Goodnow McKay does post Arizona legal document templates for injury victims who aren’t ready to hire a lawyer. In some cases, these documents can at minimum help prevent personal injury victims from losing their legal rights just because they missed a deadline.
How to Hire a Prescott Personal Injury Attorney
“You’ll want to hire a local attorney because they’ll have the best experience with the local judges, insurance adjusters and other attorneys.”
If you experienced a personal injury in Phoenix, you’ll want to look at only Arizona personal injury law firms. If your injury occurred anywhere near Prescott, you’ll want to hire a Prescott personal injury attorney. There are also many accident injury attorneys in Phoenix who have offices in Prescott as well, like the lawyers at Goodnow McKay. You’ll want to hire a local attorney because they’ll have the best experience with the local judges, insurance adjusters and other attorneys. Depending on the facts of your case, there may also be county or local rules that a local attorney will have expertise in.
Aside from asking friends for a recommendation, there are many ways to find Prescott personal injury attorneys. You can either check the State Bar of Arizona, or some of the attorney directories, like Avvo, or FindLaw. You can also take a look at Best Lawyers or Super Lawyers, which both rank attorneys based on peer review and other factors.
File an Insurance Claim or a Lawsuit
Attorney Goodnow says that one of the biggest mistakes personal injury victims make is thinking that to get compensated, all they have to do is file an insurance claim. It’s true that this is usually the first step and personal injury claims are often settled out of court.
However, insurance claims are not lawsuits. If you only file an insurance claim, you could lose your right to any recovery if you don’t resolve the claim before the statute of limitations. A statute of limitations is a deadline by when legal claims must be filed. Different kinds of legal claims have different statutes of limitation. The statute of limitations for a slip and fall in Arizona is 2 years.
If you were very recently injured, you have the option of waiting to file a lawsuit while you negotiate with the insurance company, but make sure you don’t miss the statute of limitations. And regardless of what you decide to do in court, you should always file an insurance claim as soon as you know which insurance company holds the property owner’s policy. If you hire a personal injury specialist, they’ll make sure you don’t miss your deadline.
If you were injured in a slip and fall in Prescott, know that you have legal options. If you’re not sure what to do, talk Prescott personal injury attorney to discuss your options.