Slips and falls are among the most common type of personal injury accidents, and they can result in long recovery periods, lost time from work and permanent disability. If you experience a slip-and-fall accident on another party’s property, it is critical that you document the situation as thoroughly as possible. Property owners have a duty to maintain their premises in a safe condition. Your thorough documentation can prove that their premises were unsafe at the time of your fall.
Get Medical Attention
After a slip-and-fall accident, it is imperative that you receive immediate medical attention. Either go straight to the emergency room or visit your doctor or a walk-in clinic. While this is not an issue for the seriously injured, who require prompt medical attention, a person who is hurt but adopts a “wait and see” attitude may impair their chances of receiving a settlement from the property owner’s insurance company. That’s because the insurer may claim that the injury happened elsewhere, under different circumstances, if the victim did not seek help for their injuries as soon as possible. If you wait to seek medical help, the insurer may also allege your injuries are not as serious as you claim.
Take Photos or Videos
If you have your smartphone with you, take photos or videos of the scene right away. It is important to establish how the site appeared at the time of the fall, as ice may melt in the interim or debris is cleared away. For example, if you slipped on a wet floor inside a grocery store, it is vital to document that there were not any signs warning about the condition or the area was not cordoned off. You should take photos of any obvious injuries, such as lacerations or scrapes.
If you are too badly injured to take such photos yourself, ask a relative or friend to get to the scene at once and take care of this task. If anyone witnessed your fall, get their contact information, including their name, address, telephone number, and email address. You may also want to ask them to describe what happened and record their response on your smartphone.
Write down exactly what happened as you remember it as soon as you can. If you don’t have writing materials available, or cannot write because the fall injured your hand, record your thoughts on your smartphone. Go into as much detail as you can.
Your note-taking does not stop after the incident. Continue to document how the slip-and-fall affects you, including medical treatments, pain experienced, absences from work and other activities. If you experience setbacks in your recovery, keep a record.
Document Your Footwear
Photograph the type of footwear you were wearing at the time of the fall, and do not discard the footwear even if it was damaged in the accident. If something got stuck on your shoe and caused the fall, do not remove the item but put the shoe in a plastic bag and tape it shut as possible evidence. You should also photograph the clothes you were wearing at the time. If the clothes were ripped or otherwise affected by the fall, do not repair them but keep them as evidence.
File an Incident Report
If the fall took place on a commercial property, such as in a parking lot, grocery store, restaurant, shopping center or office building, file an incident report with the property manager as soon as you can. Ask the manager for a copy of this written report for your records. If you are too badly injured to deal with management at the time of the incident, ask a relative or friend to contact the manager and request a written report. If the police or emergency personnel responded to your accident, obtain a copy of your report from them.
What Not to Do
There are also things you should not do after a slip-and-fall accident. Avoid posting anything about the incident on social media. Any postings you make are considered a statement and might be used against you by the property owner’s insurance company. For best results, limit conversations about the accident to your attorney and your doctors. Do not talk about legal action with friends or relatives.
Contact an Attorney
If you have experienced a slip-and-fall accident, you should contact an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. Do not agree to any settlement with the property owner’s insurance company until you consult a lawyer. The insurance company’s goal is to settle for as little as possible, while a personal injury attorney knows the amount of fair compensation for your injuries. Call us today for a free initial consultation or contact us online.