What Should I Do if I’m Injured in a Sinkhole?

What Should I Do if I’m Injured in a Sinkhole?

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What Should I Do if I’m Injured in a Sinkhole?

You see them in photographs on websites and as moving images on the nightly news. Where you do not want to see one develop is in your backyard or the middle of a four-lane superhighway. They form without giving any advanced notice, as if an invisible magician walked over a parcel of land while waving a wand.

They are called sinkholes, which have become an increasingly serious health hazard in the United States.

Once considered the exclusive domain of Gulf Coast states such as Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana, sinkholes can develop anywhere in the United States where there is the perfect combination of soil and moisture content. For example, the New Madrid Fault region covering the Bootheel of Missouri, Southern Illinois, Western Kentucky, Western Tennessee, and Northeastern Arkansas is fertile ground for the development of sinkholes.

In addition to an incredible amount of property damage, a sinkhole can cause catastrophic injuries that take years to recover from if a victim receives the finest medical care. If you sustain injuries caused by the development of a sinkhole, you should know the answer to the question, “What to do if I get injured in a sinkhole?” The first thing to do is receive medical treatment for your injuries. After taking care of your injuries, you should contact a personal injury attorney to schedule a free case evaluation.

For over 30 years, the personal injury lawyers at Morgan & Morgan have helped clients recover more than $20 billion in monetary damages. Because of the rise in the number of sinkhole injury cases, we specialize in helping clients file a sinkhole personal injury claim with their insurance companies, as well as prepare a persuasive case before filing a civil lawsuit that seeks just compensation.

Schedule a free case evaluation with one of the experienced personal injury attorneys at Morgan & Morgan.

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Get answers to commonly asked questions about our legal services and learn how we may assist you with your case.

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  • What Is a Sinkhole?

    A sinkhole forms a depression in the ground that does not have access to a naturally developed external drainage system. In areas that have a karst topography, which is the dissolution of rocks such as gypsum and limestone, sinkholes can develop anywhere, at any time. However, the development of sinkholes in karst topography regions of the United States occurs more frequently in areas that experience heavy amounts of precipitation within a short period. Excessive moisture in regions such as the Southeastern section of the United States produces sinkholes, some of which cause serious and even life-threatening injuries to the victims that fall in the vast holes.

    Sinkholes can develop a few feet to hundreds of acres wide, as well as between one and more than 100 feet deep. They rarely give advance notice of their rapid development.

  • What Are the Types of Sinkholes?

    Geologists have discovered three primary types of sinkholes: Clay, collapse, and subsidence.

    Clay Sinkhole
    Also called clay shrinkage, a clay sinkhole develops when clay minerals alter their composition significantly as clay comes in contact with moisture. Annual and seasonal precipitation changes cause clay to shrink or expand. For example, during a drought, clay tends to shrink to absorb as much moisture as possible. As the result of considerable movement, any structures over clay can experience substantial damaging movements.

    Collapse Sinkhole
    A collapse sinkhole develops faster than the other two main types of sinkholes. They often develop because of large changes in the underground water supply. As water levels fluctuate, the roof of the ground above starts to weaken, and eventually, large areas of land collapse into a huge hole. This type of sinkhole is the most dangerous type of sinkhole because of the rapid way it develops.

    Subsidence Sinkhole
    Sometimes called a cover-subsidence sinkhole, a subsidence sinkhole is the slowest type of sinkhole to develop. This means homeowners, commercial property owners, and public sector workers should have enough time to intervene and repair the damage underground before a depression develops. However, some subsidence sinkholes are difficult to detect because they start as a relatively small hole or depression.

  • What Types of Laws Cover Sinkhole Injuries?

    If you sustained injuries because of a sinkhole, you need to answer the question, “What to do if I get injured in a sinkhole?” When you meet with one of the personal injury lawyers from Morgan & Morgan, one of the first items on the agenda involves determining what type of law covers your sinkhole injuries. The goal of our team of personal injury attorneys is to fight for the right of our clients to receive just compensation for the financial losses associated with sinkhole injuries.

    Premise Liability
    As the most common type of law practice for litigating sinkhole injury cases, premises liability refers to the negligence of a property owner when it comes to ensuring visitors to a property do not get injured by a hole or depression in the ground. Property owners owe a duty of care to every visitor, as well as every resident, to protect them from the physical and emotional harm caused by a sinkhole.

    The key to proving legal liability is to demonstrate a property owner knew about the development of a hole or depression and did nothing to fix the safety hazard.

    Real Estate Fraud
    Far too many real estate agents care more about making money than protecting clients from potential health issues such as the development of a sinkhole. Because of the pursuit of high commissions, many agents cut corners by committing acts of real estate fraud. One form of real estate fraud involves not telling a potential buyer about a sinkhole or the potential development of a sinkhole. If a real estate agent sold property to you while knowing about the presence of one or more sinkholes, your personal injury attorney might be able to prove the agent committed an act of real estate fraud.

    Neighborly Nuisance
    Another cause of the development of sinkholes finds its root cause in an act committed by a neighbor, corporation, or government agency. For example, a public works project planned to improve the infrastructure of a wireless network includes considerable digging deep into the ground. If workers fail to fill every cavern created by the digging, heavy precipitation can cause the development of a collapse sinkhole. If another party’s negligence caused your injuries because of a sinkhole, you might have enough convincing evidence to file a civil lawsuit that seeks monetary damages.

  • What Does a Personal Injury Attorney Do?

    When one of our personal injury lawyers works with a client, the legal counsel follows a series of steps to recover monetary damages for financial losses.

    Complete a Comprehensive Investigation
    Gathering and organizing persuasive evidence is the foundation of building a successful personal injury case. For sinkhole injuries, our team of highly-rated litigators first determines which type of law applies to your case, before conducting a thorough investigation into the cause of the sinkhole, whether the other party knew about the development of the sinkhole, and if all four elements of proving negligence are met.

    The four elements of proving negligence include demonstration duty of care, the breaching of the duty of care, the sinkhole caused your injuries, and the incident hurt you financially. 

    Explain Your Legal Rights
    Each state has established many common legal processes for litigating personal injury lawsuits. However, each state also has established different standards for the personal injury litigation process. For example, the statute of limitations for filing a civil lawsuit differs among the states, with the deadline for filing a personal injury lawsuit ranging from one to six years. Most states have set the deadline for filing a personal injury claim between two and four years.

    Negotiate a Favorable Settlement
    The goal of our team of personal injury lawyers is to help our clients receive compensation for their financial losses. Negotiating a favorable settlement represents an effective legal strategy that helps you avoid the costly and time-consuming trial phase of the personal injury litigation process. Reaching a settlement can occur before the start of a trial during the discovery phase, or if the judge hearing your case requests both parties start negotiations with the help of a mediator.

  • What Kind of Compensation Can I Receive for My Sinkhole Injuries?

    Following a sinkhole-related incident, one of your first steps should be to file a civil lawsuit that seeks monetary damages. Your personal injury attorney calculates a value for monetary damages based on economic, non-economic, and punitive factors.

    Economic Damages
    As the name implies, economic damages cover the value of tangible expenses. For personal injury cases, medical bills represent the costliest factor in determining economic damages. You should submit the bills associated with diagnostic tests, treatment programs, and participation in physical therapy sessions. You also have the right to recoup the costs of prescription medications and the use of an assistive device. If a sinkhole caused property damage and forced you out of work, you should file a personal injury lawsuit that recovers the cost of property damage and lost wages.

    Non-Economic Damages
    Falling into a sinkhole and sustaining injuries from the incident can trigger serious mental and emotional issues. For example, if you got hurt by a sinkhole that suddenly developed on a road or highway, driving after the personal injury incident might cause you to develop fear and anxiety symptoms. Referred to as pain and suffering, you have the right to recover the costs associated with non-economic damages.

    Punitive Damages
    With negligence the focal legal principle of a personal injury case, your legal counsel must demonstrate the other party committed one or more acts of negligence. The negligence can either be recklessness or intentional, but in either case, the judge hearing your lawsuit has the legal power to order the defendant to pay punitive damages. This type of compensation is ordered to deter future acts of negligence.

  • Work With an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer at Morgan & Morgan

    Whether the defendant is a neighbor, large corporation, or government agency, you can expect the other party to hire legal representation to fight against charges of negligence. To counteract the legal actions taken by the other party, you need an experienced personal injury attorney in your corner. Working with a personal injury lawyer from Morgan & Morgan helps you level the legal playing field when you file a civil lawsuit that seeks monetary damages.

    Schedule a free case evaluation to get help to recover the financial losses generated by one or more sinkhole injuries and to acquire the means necessary to move on with your life.

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