I've Fallen--What Now?
The last thing any of us want to think about is "what do I do if I get into an accident or am injured?" But, this is not something to be ignored or swept under a rug. Unfortunately, as shown in my last post about auto accidents, it is best to be ready and prepared in the event something does happen. This will provide you peace of mind.
Premises liability law, commonly referred to as "slip & fall," is where you seek damages against the entity that caused you to slip, trip, fall, or otherwise become injured. Common examples are people who slip on a floor that was just mopped and didn't have signs up warning of the wet floor, the obscured hole in the parking lot that you fell into, and the missing railing or dangerous stairs at your apartment building.
This is a very fact-specific and complex area of the law so there is no hard and fast rule on whether you have a compensable case or not. Some things to look for are: foreign substances on the floor, differences in grade or holes in a sidewalk, parking lot, or floor, poorly marked or illuminated hazards, and unnatural accumulations of snow or ice.
While it takes a personal interview with an experienced lawyer to properly evaluate whether there is a case or not, here is what you should do if you are ever involved in a slip & fall accident:
- Report the incident immediately. Complete an accident or incident report at the scene. For example, if you slip on a substance in a food store, make sure you immediately inform the staff and press them to complete a written report and provide you with a copy. this will help preserve your version of the facts.
- Seek medical treatment immediately, as not all injuries are visible. Now is not the time to be a hero! Immediate medical treatment substantiates and documents your claim of injury. Even your decision to refuse an ambulance from the scene may be factored into "how hurt you really were." If you are hurt, get treatment as soon as possible.
- Take photos with your phone if possible. Photograph the place where you fell or tripped the apparent cause of your fall, and any visible injuries, like bruises, cuts, or abrasions. Save your shoes and clothes if they have any of the foreign substance that caused you to fall on them.
- Contact a lawyer as soon as possible. Speak to no one except your doctors and a lawyer. Remember, any statements made will be used against you.
We never want to get hurt but just in case this happens to you, follow this "to do" list and it will help you preserve evidence and prove your case.