Slip-and-fall cases are one of the most common personal injuries that happen on private and public properties. Property owners have certain obligations under the law to keep all visitors and guests of their property safe from harm and injuries. If a property owner fails to maintain their property in a safe manner or does not alert guests of potential dangers, they may be negligent under the law and liable to any victims that sustain injuries on their land or property.
If you or a loved one is a victim of a slip-and-fall accident, there are some actions you can take immediately after an accident takes place to protect your rights and help your case should you need to pursue damages against the property owner.
Ask for Help
If you slip and fall on the property of another person, you should immediately ask for assistance. If you are not able to get up after your injuries, yell for help or have a friend, family member or bystander get assistance for you. You or a person on your behalf can use your phone to call for emergency medical services if you feel you have serious injuries.
At this time, you should also call the police. Many victims of slip-and-fall may believe that calling the police is unnecessary, but this step can be beneficial to your case and help support your claims and protect your rights in an insurance claim or lawsuit. A police officer that comes to the scene of a slip-and-fall will complete an incident report, gather personal information of all parties involved, and include information detailing what occurred and your injuries at the scene.
Notify the Property Owners or Management on Site
Even if you call the police, you must also notify the owners of the property or the management in charge that an incident has taken place. Many properties, particularly those where businesses are present, may have their own process of dealing with an injury, including their own reports. While you must notify the parties of an accident and that you did sustain an injury, you do not need to answer questions or provide them with a detailed account of what occurred.
It is best that you refrain from further communications from a property owner or their representatives until you have had a chance to consult with a slip-and-fall attorney to discuss how to best proceed in your case. After consulting with a lawyer and if you hire one to represent you, they will then communicate with all parties on your behalf, moving forward in the case.
Collect Evidence at the Scene of the Slip-and-Fall
The factors or events that can contribute to a slip-and-fall accident on the property of another person may be time-sensitive. The state of the property or hazard that is present at the time of your slip-and-fall may not be there the next day or even in a few hours. If you are able to do so safely, you must try to capture images of the hazards or other factors that led to the accident and your injuries.
Take photographs or videos of the area where the accident occurred as well as any visible injuries you may have. Make sure to point out and focus on any hazards that are present or what you believe was the cause of your injuries. If you are unable to gather the evidence yourself due to the severity of your injuries, you can ask someone with you or a nearby bystander to help you before you are transported to a hospital for emergency treatment.
Go to the Hospital for Care
Always go to the emergency room for an evaluation of your injuries. Even if you feel your injuries are minor, it is best to be safe and cautious by getting an evaluation at a hospital. Not all injuries from a slip-and-fall are visible to the naked eye and not all injuries will appear instantaneously.
Going to a hospital allows you to make certain that your injuries are identified and treated as quickly as possible. Even after a hospital visit, if you discover a new pain or any worsening discomfort, you should immediately contact a medical provider or go back for further evaluation. Injuries such as traumatic brain injuries and internal damage may develop more slowly than other injuries but can be life-threatening if not caught as soon as possible after a slip-and-fall accident.
Do Not Give a Statement to Anyone
Once you report your injury to a property owner, it is likely you will get follow-up phone calls from the owners themselves or insurance companies trying to work out a resolution. Do not answer these calls or make any statements. Insurers and at-fault parties will use these communications to gather any information they can to use against you and lower their liability to you.
Insurers may try to pin the blame for the accident on you or try to offer you a quick settlement that is well below the value of your injuries and damages. Accepting a settlement too soon can leave you unable to fight for additional damages if you later discover your injuries are more severe or that you were eligible for more compensation for your losses.
Contact a Slip-and-Fall Accident Lawyer As Soon As Possible
Once you are stabilized for your injuries and you are receiving treatment from your medical providers, you should then move quickly to contact a slip-and-fall attorney for a free case evaluation. During the evaluation of your case, an attorney can go over your injuries from the accident and who may be responsible for your damages.