Hobbs Slip and Fall Attorney
In 2020, more than 6.8 million people were treated in emergency departments across the country for fall-related injuries. That makes slip, trip, and fall accidents the leading cause of nonfatal preventable injuries in the US.
Slips, trips, and falls in Hobbs, New Mexico, cause a surprisingly high number of serious injuries, including bone fractures, spinal injuries, joint dislocations, and traumatic brain injuries. Fall-related accidents can even be fatal. In 2021, our Hobbs slip and fall lawyers saw falls ranked as the third-leading cause of death from preventable injuries.
It’s easy to blame the victims of slip, trip, and fall accidents for not looking where they’re going. But it’s very easy to get into these situations, and it’s often not the victim’s fault.
Take, for instance, these three hypothetical scenarios where a slip and fall accident could occur in Hobbs, New Mexico:
- You could trip on a pothole in the parking lot outside the Family Dollar on E. Marland Street on the way back to your car carrying discount goodies. In this case, the pothole would be to blame for the accident. More specifically, the store’s maintenance crew, whose job it is to keep the parking lot clear of potholes.
- What if you slipped on a liquid spill in the beverages section at Albertsons Market on N. Grimes Street? You would blame the premises’ management for not keeping their busy isles dry.
- Imagine tripping on cracked flooring at the Hilton Garden Inn Hobbs. Surely, guests at the prestigious inn can’t be expected to constantly scan the floors for tripping hazards that shouldn’t be there in the first place.
In most cases, fall-related accidents, especially in public spaces such as hotels, retail stores, stadiums, and commercial buildings, occur due to someone else’s negligence or recklessness.
Have you or your loved one sustained injury due to a preventable slip, trip, or fall? A Hobbs slip and fall lawyer can help you get justice for wrongful injuries. The Law Office of W. Shane Jennings will build you a winning case to recover damages for fall-related accidents.
Let’s go over the basics of claiming compensation for slip and fall accidents in Hobbs, New Mexico.
What Causes So Many Slips, Trips, and Falls in Hobbs, New Mexico?
Before we discuss the causes, let’s define what it means to slip, trip, or fall:
- A slip is a loss of balance caused by having little traction or friction between the feet and the floor. They occur mostly due to liquid spills, slippery floors, and other hazards such as snow, ice, and dust buildup on the floor.
- A trip occurs when one or both of your feet hit an obstacle on the path, throwing you off-balance. Tripping hazards include dips, protrusions, and standing obstacles on the floor.
- A fall is any sudden, uncontrolled, and unwanted descent or collapse. Trips and slips often end in a fall.
Here are the most common causes of injury-causing slip, trip, and fall accidents:
Some flooring materials, such as smooth ceramic tiles and polished hardwood boards, are quite slippery and pose serious slipping risks. The same goes for wet floors. Beverage, oil, and water spills are common slipping hazards in supermarkets, eateries, pubs, bathrooms, and workplaces.
Uneven Floor Surface
The slightest dips and bumps on the floor can easily cause tripping accidents. Often, buckled tiles, cracked surfaces, and warped floorboards are to blame for unsafe bumpiness on floor surfaces. Unevenly spaced or pitched steps on stairs are common tripping hazards too.
Icy and Damaged Sidewalks
Worn and damaged sidewalks present tripping hazards to pedestrians. For instance, passersby can easily trip on cracked or buckled sidewalk slabs/asphalt. Also, ice and snow build up on roads and sidewalks during cold weather, making the surface dangerously slippery.
Ditches and Potholes
Potholes and piles of rubble on roads, parking lots, sidewalks, and driveways are tripping disasters waiting to happen. Also, poorly demarcated ditches, pits, and trenches, especially around construction and excavation sites, can cause fall accidents.
Messy homes, workplaces, and venues are riddled with tripping and slipping hazards. Loose mats/rugs, trailing cables, and litter become unexpected obstacles that may cause even the most cautious person to slip, trip, or fall.
Low or bad lighting can compromise visibility, making it difficult to see and avoid falling hazards such as obstacles, cracks, bumps, dips, spills, etc. This is a common problem in hallways, stairways, and parking garages where flickering, badly installed, or dim lights can easily obscure serious perils lurking on the floor.
Hip Fractures When Elders Trip, Slip, or Fall
Rather worryingly, fall-related accidents are the number one cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries among older adults (ages 65 and over). In New Mexico, over 123,000 older adults reported falling in 2020 alone. At the time, that figure accounted for about a third of the city’s senior population.
According to the New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH), falls accounted for 5,829 hospital visits among seniors in 2018. And up to half of the patients have a recurrent fall and emergency department revisit or die within a year after a fall.
This is such a big state-wide health concern that NMDOH has a long-running initiative — the Older Adult Falls Task Force — to address fall-related accidents in older adults.
Most slip, trip, or fall accidents in seniors result in severe hip fractures and traumatic brain injuries. Such injuries may not only be costly but also crippling and fatal.
If an elderly member of your family has suffered any bodily injury due to a wrongful fall accident, the law is on their side. A Hobbs slip and fall attorney will ensure that those responsible face justice and pay duly for their negligence.
Who Can Be Held Responsible in a Hobbs Slip and Fall Accident?
Property owners and managers owe it to their visitors and tenants to ensure their premises are safe. Similarly, the Lea County Road Department and other authorities are responsible for safeguarding pedestrians against slips, trips, and falls on the city’s roadways.
That legal responsibility for the safety of others is known as “duty of care.” Anyone (including private organizations and government agencies) who breaches their duty of care is said to be negligent. And if that negligence leads to an injury-causing slip, trip, or fall accident, then you have a valid personal injury claim.
Establishing negligence in a fall-related accident in Hobbs, New Mexico, means proving four key things:
- Someone owed you a duty of care.
- That duty of care was breached.
- You sustained an injury as a result of negligence.
- The injury caused you to incur financial and non-financial damages.
Let’s say you slipped and fell on the wet floor of a supermarket aisle, fracturing your hip. The store’s management owed you a duty of care to keep the floors safe, which they breached by not wiping the floor dry. And since the accident caused an injury that required medical attention, you may claim compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering, lost earnings during the time spent recovering, and other damages.
Here are a few more examples of parties that might be held responsible for slip, trip, and fall accidents:
- The owner, lessor, lessee, or management of a commercial establishment
- A venue’s owner or organizer for fall-related accidents during hosted events such as conferences, weddings, or meetings
- The homeowner’s insurance at a friend’s or host’s house
- The municipality or road contractors for injuries sustained from tripping on potholes, cracks, or other obstacles on sidewalks or road crossings
- The owner or lessee of a private walkway for failing to maintain their property
- Your home insurer for tripping, slipping, or falling in your own home
Some of the Defenses the Opposing Party Will Use
According to New Mexico Statute § 41-4-6 (2021), slip, trip, and fall cases are classified as premises liability lawsuits. Premises liability is a type of negligence lawsuit against a property’s owner, lessor, lessee, or management for failing to act responsibly toward the safety of their guests, visitors, or tenants.
New Mexico law recognizes four types of guests in premises liability cases:
- Invitee — This is someone who’s been invited and welcomed onto the property for the owner’s benefit through either express or implied invitation. Invitees warrant the highest level of care.
- Licensee — This means anyone invited onto a property with express or implied permission but not for the host’s or owner’s benefit. Licensees include social guests such as friends and family. The host is responsible for warning their guests about any non-obvious dangers they ought to be aware of.
- Trespasser — An individual who’s not authorized to be on the property. The property owner is not legally responsible for the safety of trespassers. However, they cannot willfully harm a trespasser.
- Children — New Mexico law recognizes that children cannot be responsible for their own safety. Premises liability cases involving children follow the attractive nuisance doctrine. This requires property owners to take reasonable precautions to protect child guests and trespassers from harm.
Whenever you file a premise liability claim, you should expect some pushback from the “presumably” liable party. The defendant, along with their lawyers and insurer, will try their hardest to contest the claim so that they pay the least compensation possible, if any at all.
Slip, trip, and fall claims are particularly difficult to prove. Here are five common defenses your opponent may raise in an attempt to weaken or dismiss your case:
- Open and obvious hazard. This defense points to the hazard as an apparent danger that a reasonable person would have avoided.
- No notice of the hazard. The defendant might claim that the hazard in question was new to them at the time of the accident and could not have acted to address it.
- Contributory negligence. The defendant might argue that you were partly to blame for the accident and/or injury.
- Pre-existing condition. If you have a pre-existing medical condition, such as epilepsy or vision problems, the defense might point to that as the cause of the accident.
- Unforeseeable conduct. The defendant might claim that unforeseen circumstances outside their control led to the fall accident.
Your slip and fall lawyer in Hobbs will help you fight the defense by presenting irrefutable evidence and making sound arguments to support your case.
Pure Comparative Negligence in New Mexico and How It May Affect Your Claim
New Mexico is a pure comparative negligence state. That means you’d still be entitled to settlement in a personal injury case even if you were partly to blame for the accident or injuries.
However, the settlement amount will be reduced by your percentage of fault or negligence in the slip, trip, or fall accident. For instance, if the court finds that you were 20% to blame for your injuries, you’ll only be entitled to 80% of the total settlement.
Pure comparative negligence is a plaintiff-friendly doctrine. You can recover damages for a premise liability claim even if you were 99% to blame for the accident.
Slip and Fall Settlement Amounts and What You Can Expect
How much can you recover in slip, trip, and fall cases?
Well, that depends on the nature of your case. Firstly, your involvement or blame in the accident will greatly impact the final settlement. Secondly, the court will consider all the damages you’ve incurred as a direct result of your injuries.
You may get compensated for the following damages:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages, including loss of future earnings
- Property damages
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Compromised quality of life
- Loss of consortium
It’s up to your personal injury lawyer to put all these damages into monetary figures and, more importantly, justify that you indeed deserve said compensation.
Hobbs, New Mexico
Hobbs, NM, is the largest city in Lea County. It’s tucked in the southeast corner of New Mexico, just 4 miles from the West Texas state line. The sunbathed city covers 26.40 square miles and is home to a diverse population of nearly 40,000.
Founded by farmer James Isaac Hobbs in 1907, Hobbs quickly blossomed after the discovery of natural gas and oil deposits in the late 1920s. Hobbs ballooned from a settlement into New Mexico’s petroleum center in just a few short decades.
Today, Hobbs City still sits on one of the world’s most active oil basins. And Lea County is among the top oil-producing counties in the US. In addition to oil and gas mines, Hobbs is surrounded by acres of cattle ranches, artesian-irrigated farmlands, and endless high desert blue skies.
Hobbs also has excellent medical facilities in case you get injured in a slip, trip, or fall accident. Here are the top four healthcare facilities in town offering world-class physical therapies, nursing services, rehabilitative treatments, and more:
- White Sands Healthcare — offers a wide range of healthcare services, including highly personalized elderly care to improve the patient’s quality of life
- Elite Home Health — provides skilled nursing care, physical therapy, home health aides, and personal care to suit each patient’s needs
- Meca Therapies LLC — dedicated to medical, supportive, fitness, and rehabilitative care for children
- American Medical Group, Inc. — offers a full range of medical services for patients of all ages, including imaging, occupational medicine, pediatrics, and lab tests
Contact the Law Office of W. Shane Jennings Today!
Are you looking for a Hobbs slip and fall lawyer? W. Shane Jennings is here to help. Contact the Law Office of W. Shane Jennings today for strong, trustworthy, and expert legal counsel and representation in your personal injury case.