Serious slips, trips, and falls occur far more often than most people realize. These dangerous accidents can happen just about anywhere, such as, homes, office buildings, grocery stores, parking lots, and walkways to name a few places. Slip and fall accidents are sometimes the fault of the injured person, but most times they are, at least in part, the result of negligent conduct on the part of the property manager, owner, or landlord.
Slip and fall, and similarly trip and fall, accidents will occur without warning and the victim will find him or herself on the ground dazed from the event. Despite this sudden injury, it's extremely important the injured slip and fall victim understand how to protect their rights at that moment. Knowing what to do, and what not to do, after a slip or fall can help the accident victim avoid future pitfalls that could damage their ability to bring a slip and fall case for compensation.
If you were injured in a slip and fall accident, you may have grounds for a personal injury case; these cases are called premises liability claims. Here are some tips you need to know.
What to Do After a Slip or Trip and Fall Accident
What victims do in the moments, days, and weeks following a slip and fall accident can have a long-lasting impact on their ability to recover monetary compensation for damages. Taking the following actions can help people who have been injured in a slip and fall accident build a strong case:
- Report the accident. Notify a manager, landlord, or property owner immediately following the incident and ask them to make a written report. Request a copy of the accident report before leaving the premises. Make sure someone knows of your fall and its cause before you leave the location, if at all possible.
- Examine the scene. Inspect the area where the fall occurred to identify the cause. Look for things like snow, rain, oil on the surface of the floor, uneven or broken flooring or other objects that created a hazard.
- Gather evidence. Take photos or videos of the scene of the slip and fall location. It is very possible that the cause of your fall will be gone shortly after your fall so documenting the hazard preserves your evidence before it is destroyed, removed or evaporates. Also, photo document any visible injuries sustained in the slip and fall.
- Obtain contact information and statements from witnesses. In a slip and fall in a store, often there are witnesses such as other customers or employees. Obtaining the contact information for these witnesses—as well as a brief description of what they saw—provides valuable information for the slip and fall attorney that will be prosecuting the case.
- Seek immediate medical attention. Even if no injuries are immediately apparent, it's important for slip and fall victims to get medically evaluated as soon as possible. Recorded medical information helps show the injury status following the fall and records a substantiation from an objective medical provider. In the end, it makes it easier for victims to connect all the injuries, even the ones that appear later, to the fall itself.
- Document medical expenses and lost wages. Save all related medical bills or receipts, and document time lost from work. Secure a doctor's order for your time off work so your decision not to work is supported by a medical provider's opinion.
- Keep a journal detailing how slip and fall injuries affect day-to-day activities. A recorded journal will help support claims for non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering and how the injury has altered your life. Also, a journal helps your remember events that may be forgotten over time while the case is being handled by the slip and fall attorney.
- Consult an experienced personal injury attorney. After a slip and fall accident, it is critical to speak with a slip and fall lawyer soon after the fall. Evidence is quickly lost in slip and fall cases and the lawyer needs the advantage of being able to gather information early before it is gone. Also, the slip and fall victim needs to have someone who will look out for their best interests.
What Not to Do After a Slip or Trip and Fall Accident
These common mistakes can seriously damage a slip or trip and fall accident victim's ability to collect the compensation from a negligent person or business. For best results, victims should not:
- Apologize or accept blame. Saying “sorry” is an automatic reaction for some people, but accepting blame for a slip or fall can make it difficult for a victim to point the finger at the real responsible person.
- Refuse or delay medical treatment. Putting on a brave face and delaying or refusing medical treatment can be a costly error. Victims who refuse or wait too long to seek medical treatment often have a hard time proving their injuries were related to the slip and fall incident.
- Fail to follow the doctor's orders or attend follow-up visits. Failing comply with a doctor's orders is taken by the opposing side as evidence that the slip and fall victim was not injured that bad. This failure will allow an insurance adjuster or defense attorney to assert that later claims of injuries are exaggerated by the victim.
- Provide a recorded statement to the insurance company without first consulting an attorney. Insurance adjusters may use what a victim says in a recorded statement against them in an attempt to reduce the company's financial obligation. An attorney will help prevent such a statement from being used to defeat a slip and fall claim.
- Post about the accident on social media. Insurance adjusters and defense attorneys often scrutinize a victim's social media posts to look for things that they can misconstrue. It's best to refrain from posting on social media until the case is resolved. You do not want to claim you were seriously injured, then be found posting that you are engaging in activities which are inconsistent with your claims.
- Accept a settlement without discussing it with an attorney. A quick settlement offer may sound like a boon, but it's important for victims to know that insurance companies will attempt to get a person to agree to a quick settlement to avoid paying out more money later on. Do not agree to accept any settlement offer until that offer has been reviewed by an attorney. Even a phone call interview with a law office is better than settling without the benefit of a lawyer's opinion.
Were You Injured in a Slip and Fall Accident?
It's important to understand your legal rights and options after a slip or trip and fall accident. The knowledgeable Rancho Cucamonga, CA slip and fall attorneys and paralegals at the Inland Empire Law Group can answer your questions and offer valuable information. Contact us today at (888) 694-3529, (909) 481-0100 or submit your case online on our website, to schedule an appointment for a free initial case consultation.