Slip & Falls Attorney in Billings, Montana

In emergency rooms across the United States, more than one million visits every year are due to slip-and-fall accidents. Injuries can range from minor to disabling, with fractures the single most prevalent injury. Under certain circumstances, slip-and-fall accidents can be fatal.

If you have been injured in a slip-and-fall accident while on someone else’s property, you may be able to pursue a claim for compensation for your injuries, time off work, and pain and suffering. To find out, talk to a skilled personal injury attorney.

Gerstner Adam Law represents clients injured in slip-and-fall accidents in Billings, Miles City, Glendive, and Sidney, Montana. If you have fallen and suffered injuries because of someone else’s negligence, we may be able to help you get back on your feet again.

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What Is Premises Liability in Montana?

Individuals, businesses, and governmental entities have a duty to keep their properties safe for people they invite onto them. Properties should be well maintained, repairs made within a reasonable period, and any unsafe conditions that are not open and obvious to a visitor should be clearly marked. If the premises isn’t so maintained, the owner is liable for the damages incurred by an injured invitee.

Some examples of premises liability include:

  • An employee mops a shop floor and fails to mark the area with caution signs and a customer slips and falls on the slick surface.
  • A stair railing in city hall is loose and breaks away as someone attempts to use it while descending the stairs, causing them to fall.
  • The sidewalk outside a business has settled, leaving one section higher than the adjacent one. A patron walking toward the entrance catches the toe of their shoe on the raised section, causing them to fall forward. The height difference was unmarked.

Montana law establishes a three-year time limit on settling a claim or filing a civil lawsuit against the property owner. This statute of limitations begins as of the date of the slip and fall. Although you may attempt to settle a claim within the three-year period before filing a lawsuit, the petition for damages will need to be filed before the statute tolls or you will be barred from doing so. Once the lawsuit is filed, the clock stops ticking.

Who May Be Liable for Damages?

If you were injured at someone else’s home and were not trespassing at the time, you could sue the homeowner if they have liability insurance. If you were visiting someone at an apartment complex and injured yourself on unsafe premises, the owner of the apartment complex could be held liable for your damages.

Business owners usually agree to maintain the property, even if it is leased from someone else. If so, they can be held liable for damages suffered by someone injured on the premises if the business was negligent in its obligation to maintain a safe environment.

Governmental entities that own property, including public buildings, parks, and recreational facilities, can be held liable if they fail to take steps to keep them safe for visitors.

You could be held fully or partly liable for your own injuries if you were careless. For example, you could be liable if you trip while stepping off a curb while you are texting on your mobile phone, or if you disregard warning signs, cones, or tape and are injured as a result, or if you were trespassing at the time. Some hazards are also considered “open and obvious” which means they would be avoidable to anyone exercising reasonable care. For example, if it is snowing heavily and you get out of your car and run toward the store entrance to get out of the snow but slip and fall, then you will be liable for your own injuries. 

What Does it Take to Prove Fault?

As the plaintiff in a slip-and-fall personal injury case, you and your attorney will have to prove negligence on the part of the defendant. Property owners are negligent if they fail to make their property safe or fail to warn you of hazardous conditions they should have known about.

The owner would be at fault if they caused the danger, for example, by stretching an electrical cord over a walkway and failing to secure or mark it. The owner is liable if they should have reasonably known about a hazard, like an unsecured handrail, spilled liquid near a beverage station, or a broken step, and they failed to repair or clearly mark the hazard.

Can I Sue if I Was Partly at Fault?

Under Montana’s modified comparative fault rule, you can sue for damages so long as you share less than 50% of the fault. Your recovery will be reduced by your share. For example, if you are awarded $10,000 but assigned 10% of the fault, your recovery would be $9,000.

Slip & Fall Accident Attorneys in Billings, Montana

Some accidents are just that – purely accidental. However, when someone falls because someone else has failed to keep a property safe for visitors, they should be held accountable. At Gerstner Adam Law, we have been successful in representing clients in premises liability claims. It isn’t always easy, but we are up to the challenge. If you live or were injured in Billings, Montana, as well as Miles City, Glendive, or Sidney, call us today to discuss your slip-and-fall accident.