Nearly everyone remembers the infamous McDonalds coffee case in which damages were awarded to a 79-year-old woman after she spilled a cup of McDonalds coffee on her lap, resulting in third-degree burns. This high-profile case is often what comes to mind when people think about personal injury law, but the reality is much more mundane than that—you generally never hear about most cases.
Imagine you’re walking into a building, the stairs covered in thin layer of snow. Unbeknownst to you, there’s ice under that snow. You slip and fall down the stairs, breaking your arm and putting you out of work for weeks. Do you know that your may be entitled to compensation for your injuries? Maybe you do know that, but do you know how to go about getting that compensation or what the laws are for making a claim? In Ontario, for example, you have two years after an accident to make a claim—unless the accident happens on municipality property, in which case you only have seven days to notify the municipality of the accident. A personal injury lawyer can help you navigate the legal system and get you proper compensation for your injuries while ensuring your claim doesn’t fall outside the statute of limitations.
What is personal injury law?
Personal injury law is the area of law that covers injuries to the body, mind, or emotions, as opposed to property damage. There are many different types of accidents covered under this law, including the following:
- Car accidents
- Work accidents
- Slip and fall accidents
- Accidents on private properties
- Faulty product accidents
- Medical and dental accidents
- Industrial disease
The injured person in an accident may be entitled to compensation for their injuries. This is because the owner of a property has a duty to keep the premise safe; if you have an accident due to ice, bad lighting, leaks, and so on, you may have a case against the owner of the property. Personal injury law includes damages involving a loss of wages, medical expenses, pain and suffering, and emotional distress. Depending on the extent of your injuries, you may even be entitled to lifetime compensation if the injuries affect your ability to work. A personal injury lawyer will be able to help you determine what compensation you are entitled to. Such laws are important as they make property owners, companies, and employers responsible for keeping their premises safe and they protect us from suffering unduly for failures in these responsibilities.
I just suffered from a slip and fall accident: What should I do?
Let’s go back to our earlier example: You’ve slipped on some ice and have fallen down a flight of stairs. What do you do now?
- Get medical attention as soon as you can. Your health should of course be your first concern, and you want to make sure you get any injuries attended to. But you also want to be sure that all injuries are documented. Keep a detailed record of all medical procedures and expenses related to your fall.
- Report the fall to the owner or person in charge of the property (e.g., a manager) immediately. If you have to leave the scene to receive medical attention, be sure to call back and ensure that they have created an accident report for your fall. Get a copy of this report as soon as you can.
- Take photos of exactly where your fall occurred and document the conditions of the property that contributed to the accident (in this example, the ice on the stairs). This is extremely important as it will help establish fault, especially if the conditions are fixed after you leave the scene.
- Get the contact information of everyone involved, including any witnesses to the fall. You’ll also want to get statements from witnesses as soon as you can.
- Contact a personal injury lawyer. A personal injury lawyer will be able to evaluate your claim to see if you have a case, and they will be able to advise you on what to do next. It is especially important to contact a lawyer before you sign any papers from the company or an insurance company—signing such papers may mean giving up your right to compensation. While you’ll likely want to do so anyway, if you are being asked to sign papers after a fall, contact a personal injury lawyer immediately.