What Steps to Take After a Slip and Fall Accident
If you are ever injured in a slip and fall accident, you likely will be too preoccupied with the shock of the injury and circumstances to be thinking about your next steps. However, it is vitally important that you do all of the following as soon as you have your wits about you. In an emergency situation, you may not be able to think clearly. That is why it is so important that you know how to handle the situation before it happens. That way, if the worst occurs, you will be prepared to spring into action. Below are the immediate steps you should take after experiencing a slip and fall accident.
1. Report Your Injury to the Appropriate Authorities
Immediately notify any applicable property owner or store manager. It is important to have documentation of your injuries and, more specifically, you want the store owner to have documentation of your injuries. Ensuring that this record is created is vital. If possible, try to obtain a copy of this documentation for your own records. If they ask you to fill out any forms, make sure you do not sign anything without having an attorney first review the paperwork.
2. Collect Witness Contact Information
If anyone witnessed your fall or injury, collect their name, address, and phone number before they leave the scene. Their testimony could later prove highly useful in establishing the foundation of your case. Be aware, however, that you want to avoid at all costs any needless discussion of the specifics of your case. Any discussions you have with them could later be used against you in your case, so you want to keep your conversation to an absolute minimum. Confirm that they witnessed the accident, and get their contact information. Do not discuss your case with any business personnel either, beyond providing them with your initial description of what happened. Avoid making any representations as to the extent of your injuries or the reasons why you believe it was their fault you were injured.
3. Record the Scene of the Accident and Your Injuries
Proper evidence is undeniably important in slip and fall cases. You should photograph the scene of the accident and any visible injuries that you sustained. If it is possible, you should take video footage as well. The more you can document the accident scene and the conditions which caused your injuries, the better. You should especially take note of any bruises, scrapes, cuts, or similar wounds on your body. Injuries like these can sometimes heal quickly on a superficial level, which makes it hard to later visualize how, where, and to what extent you were injured. This is why you must take photos as soon as possible. By taking photos of your injuries while the wounds are still visible, you will have more complete documentation of the total damages caused to you by the dangerous conditions.
4. Take Detailed Notes on the Accident Scene
In slip and fall accidents, cases often hinge on questions about facts of the scene of the injury. Lawyers and judges will want to know how long the property had been in a dangerous condition before you were injured and whether the responsible parties had any reason to know that there was a hazard. Make sure to document any evidence regarding any details of the perilous conditions which caused your injury, such as how long the property had been in that condition leading up to your accident, whether it had already been reported to the property by other attendees, and whether anyone else was injured by the same hazard that same day or previously. All of these details can make or break your case, and it is easy for these small details to get lost in the shuffle if you do not take note of them as soon as possible.
5. Seek Medical Treatment
If you are injured in any way, you should seek medical treatment as soon as possible. Of course, if you find yourself in an emergency situation, ignore the previous steps and seek medical assistance right away. Your safety and health are paramount, and with such serious injuries, documentation can come later.
When you visit your medical provider, be sure to explicitly state to them that you were injured in a slip and fall accident and that you are in their office seeking medical treatment for the resulting injuries. Medical records are important evidence for your case, and you want your records to clearly and consistently show that you are undergoing treatment for injuries related to your slip and fall accident. Be sure to request that your medical provider make detailed notes of all of your injuries, no matter how minor they may seem at the time.
Sometimes injuries can seem minor at first. Even if you think you can handle it and do not think it is important to minor aches and pains to your doctor, you are doing yourself a major disservice if you fail to document your injuries from the outset of your treatment. Often, injuries that start out as minor can escalate into more major issues requiring surgery or further treatment later down the road. If you fail to make note of the minor pain, it will be much more difficult later to link the worse outcome as related to your accident, especially if it has been a longer timeframe in which your condition worsened.
6. Do Not Sign Anything that Has Not Been Reviewed by Your Attorney
If the business owner or property manager present you with anything that requires a signature, never sign without first having an attorney review the document. The importance of this step cannot be understated. If the owner tries to lure you in with money in exchange for a signature, there is a strong chance that they are attempting to purchase a waiver of claims from you. If you do not carefully read or understand what you are signing or are too hasty in your decision-making, you can permanently damage your case and lose the opportunity to be compensated fully for your injuries and long-term pain and suffering.
7. Contact an Attorney who Specializes in Personal Injury or Slip and Fall Cases
After completing the steps above, the final step in pursuing your claim is finding appropriate legal counsel. You will want to have some form of representation for your case. It can be tempting to negotiate with the business directly and see if you are able to reach a favorable settlement on your own. However, in slip and fall cases especially, you should avoid this at all costs. Because premises liability cases are so complex and dependent on proper evidence, you could be at risk of settling for less than what you are owed if you try to take care of it on your own.
If you were the victim of a slip and fall accident, contact Law Offices of Kirshner, Groff, and Diaz right away to speak directly to a real attorney to learn more about how to best pursue your slip and fall case. All initial consultations are no-obligation, and our experienced team will make sure you are aware of the maximum compensation to which you are entitled for your situation.