A slip and fall accident is the reason hundreds of thousands of people seek emergency treatment every year. These accidents can leave you seriously injured and feeling traumatized.
If you’re planning to sue, you’ll need to keep a cool head and follow the right procedures. Get this wrong and you could mess up a claim.
Don’t make a painful situation worse by failing to follow a few simple steps. Here are the things you’ll need to consider after your fall.
Immediately After the Slip and Fall Accident
The actions you take straight after the accident can have a significant impact on an insurance claim or lawsuit. This applies to what you do both at the scene and shortly after you have received medical help.
Although many slip and fall accidents are minor, it’s not uncommon to suffer broken bones, head trauma or internal injuries.
Make sure a medical professional examines and treats you as quickly as possible after the fall. This is going to give you the best chance of a speedy recovery.
It also shows that you took reasonable steps to get your injuries looked at. You will need to ask for a professional diagnosis in writing that states that your injuries were caused by the fall.
Some conditions can take longer to appear. If, however, you’ve broken an arm or have cuts and bruises, it is crucial to have written documents which show when and how the injury happened.
Check the Area Where You Fell
Many accidents which involve a slip and fall happen for a reason. You should check for potential causes such as snow, ice, loose carpets, spilled food, and uneven paving.
Write down your version of the fall as quickly as possible. Your immediate impression of what went wrong may be valuable evidence in court. It’s also going be useful in helping an attorney decide how any lawsuit should be handled.
Get the names and contact details of anyone who was in the vicinity when the accident happened. These will be those who witnessed your fall, and anybody else who was there after the incident.
You could well need to call on the help of your witnesses if a landowner disputes your claim. This could apply to someone who didn’t actually see you fall.
They could still prove helpful by being able to provide a description of your pain and the conditions of the floor or lighting.
If your accident happened at a store or place of business, you may need to fill out an accident report or notify a member of staff. You don’t need to get into a discussion about fault but you should make them aware of the accident.
Sometimes a staff member may make a comment suggesting that similar incidents have happened before. They may acknowledge that they were aware of a potential danger that could have caused your fall.
In these cases, it’s important to keep a note of who the staff member was and what they said. If anyone else overheard their comments then take their contact details as well.
You should always try and take pictures of the scene straight after the accident and before the conditions change. It’s important to have a picture of your version of how the ground looked when you fell.
If you don’t have a smartphone with you, ask a witness to take the photos for you and get them to send them on to you.
You may well be in a state of shock by what happened. Try to stay focused. Avoid talking too much. It’s fine to be gracious and to accept offers of help but you should steer away from discussing how the fall happened or apportioning blame.
Liability in Slip and Fall Cases
You may wish to hold another party responsible for injuries you’ve suffered in a slip and fall accident. To do this, you will typically need to prove that a property owner should have recognized a dangerous condition.
This could be something like a pothole or an uneven walking surface. They may have failed to remove or repair the potential danger.
They could also have actually caused the dangerous condition. This could have happened by leaving out a hazardous obstacle or substance. It could then be argued that a reasonable person could see this would be likely to cause an accident.
Points to consider would be how long the hazardous condition or obstacle existed. It may have been long enough for any reasonable property owner to have taken action to eliminate the potential danger.
You may also need to find out if a property owner had processes to routinely check for potential hazards. If so, you’ll need to know if these were followed.
It could be that there was a reasonable justification for the creation of a potential hazard. But, you’ll need to establish if that justification still existed at the time of the slip and fall.
You may also need to show that the hazardous condition could have been made less dangerous through preventive measures. These could include adequate warning signage or preventing access to the location.
Talk to an Attorney
It may be that your injuries are serious or you may suspect that your condition is likely to get worse. If so, the best advice would be to speak to an attorney who specializes in slip and fall accidents.
These attorneys will be able to help you build your case and ward off any challenges. A property owner may, for example, suggest that you were partially or wholly responsible for the accident that led to your injuries.
They could argue that you were engaging in an activity that might have prevented you from noticing the hazard. This could be something like talking or texting on a phone. An experienced attorney will be able to guide you through the legal process.
If you’ve been involved in a slip and fall accident, then you may want to consider filing a lawsuit. For the best possible outcome, make sure you do everything correctly immediately after the accident.
You should also consider hiring an attorney for the job. Find out more here about how we can help you win your case.
Seth Bader is an Auto accident, Workers Compensation and Personal Injury Attorney who practices in Atlanta, Rome, Savannah, Norcross, Carrollton, Georgia. He graduated from Florida State University College of Law, and has been practicing law for 14 years. Seth Bader believes in fighting for the injured. Learn more about his experience by clicking here.