Halloween is quickly approaching, and many Virginia residents have already started getting in the fall mood, braving haunted attractions, planning their costumes, and carving pumpkins. Even though holiday activities are fun, it is also important to be mindful of safety hazards. Each year, thousands of people are injured on Halloween, and many of these injuries are due to slip and fall accidents.
Unlike many other popular holidays, Halloween festivities last more than a day. It seems like as soon as October rolls around, people start decorating their homes. However, that also means a greater risk of accidents and injuries. Some common slip and fall Halloween hazards include:
- Unsecured cords and wires
- Tripping hazards from long costumes
- Poorly-lit walkways and steps
- Broken or missing handrails
- Loose or buckled rugs and mats
- Steps that are not up to code
- Decorations or debris in the path of travel
- Cracked or uneven sidewalks or driveways
- Wet or slippery walking surfaces
In addition to all of those slip and fall hazards, do not forget that it is starting to get darker earlier every day. Less daylight and reduced visibility can be dangerous for trick-or-treaters.
If you have a slip and fall accident on Halloween, you should take the following steps to protect your legal case.
Get Medical Treatment
Your health and safety are always the top priority. Assess your situation, and either call 911, get a ride to the emergency room, or see your health care provider as soon as possible to get proper medical care.
Tell the Property Owner
Report the accident to the property owner in writing as quickly as possible. Include all of the details regarding the slip and fall, and keep a copy for your records.
Document the Scene
Take photographs of any hazards that caused you to fall. If anyone else witnessed your accident, take down their contact information. They may be asked to testify if your case goes to court.
Contact a Lawyer
Some slip and fall accidents are resolved with a homeowners insurance claim, but others go to civil court. An experienced slip and fall lawyer will review your legal options and recommend the most sensible course of action based on your situation.
What are Common Slip and Fall Injuries?
Many slip and fall accidents cause painful lacerations, broken bones, muscles sprains, and strains, and serious back, neck, and brain injuries. These injuries often require hospitalization, surgery, medication, and physical therapy, not to mention time off work while the injured person recovers.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a slip and fall injury costs an average of $30,000 to $40,000 for the following:
- Hospital visits
- Lost wages
- Medical aids and devices
- Occupation and physical therapy
- Rehabilitation facility or nursing home care
In addition to the costs that are easy to calculate, serious injuries take a toll on a person’s mental and emotional health as well. Some people experience anxiety, depression, sleep problems, and even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after a catastrophic injury. Mental trauma often has a real impact on a person’s ability to care for loved ones, hold a job, and maintain a good quality of life.
What is Premises Liability?
When a person gets hurt in a slip and fall accident that could have been prevented, someone should be held accountable. In Virginia, an accident that happens on another person’s property is a premises liability claim. However, determining who is liable for a slip and fall accident is not always simple, especially if it happens at a public haunted house or a Halloween party.
Virginia premises liability law is clear that property owners may be held liable when someone gets hurt because of conditions on their premises. However, not all injured plaintiffs are treated the same under the law.
This is a visitor invited by the property owner, including members of the public who attend community events and visit restaurants, shops, and other businesses. This might be child who visits a local farm that is hosting a pumpkin-picking event. If the child falls in a hole and breaks their leg, the landowner can be liable if they knew the hole was there but failed to remedy the hazard.
A licensee is someone who enters property for their own convenience or benefit, like a family that goes trick-or-treating at a neighbor’s home. The neighbor can be held liable if they knew of a hazard and failed to either fix it or somehow warn visitors of the risk. For example, if a handrail was broken for months and a trick-or-treater goes to grab it and fractures their arm, the homeowner may be responsible.
A trespasser is someone with no permission or legal right to be on the premises. A property owner or occupier is generally not liable to a trespasser who gets hurt on their premises, but there are exceptions.
Imagine a group of teenagers breaks into an abandoned building on Halloween. Despite No Trespassing signs posted throughout the property, the teenagers proceed anyway. Suddenly, they are startled by a noise and go running out the back door. As they do, one child slips and hits their head on the pavement, resulting in a concussion. They unlikely grounds for a premises liability claim against the property owner because they were not supposed to be there in the first place.
What is the Statute of Limitations?
You have a limited amount of time to have a lawsuit heard in the state’s civil courts. The deadline for a personal injury claim in the Virginia civil court system is two years and five years for a claim for property damages. The deadline for a wrongful death is two years.
Contributory Negligence in Virginia Personal Injury Cases
Virginia applies contributory negligence to personal injury cases. That means if the injured plaintiff bears any responsibility at all for the slip and fall accident, they cannot collect any compensation from the at-fault party. For that reason, it is much more difficult to recover damages for a fall in Virginia than most other states.
In an effort to say you were partially to blame for a fall, the home or business owner could claim that:
- You fell in an area of the property where you should not have been.
- You were not paying attention to where you were going.
- Your Halloween costume obstructed your ability to walk safely or see where you were going.
- The hazard was roped off or blocked by cones.
Since premises liability claims are challenging, it is important to hire a lawyer with skills and experience to build a compelling case.
Virginia Beach Slip and Fall Lawyers at Anchor Legal Group, PLLC Represent Clients Injured in Slip and Falls on Halloween
A slip and fall accident on Halloween can impact your life in countless ways. If you need legal assistance after a slip and fall, our Virginia Beach slip and fall lawyers at Anchor Legal Group, PLLC can help. Call us at 757-LAW-0000 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Located in Virginia Beach, we serve clients throughout Chesapeake, Norfolk, Suffolk, Portsmouth, Newport News, Hampton, and Eastern Shore, Virginia. We also serve our clients throughout the United States through our network of associated attorneys.