Five Steps You Must Take After a Slip and Fall Accident
A slip and fall injury is a common occurrence with thousands of claims made each year. Many victims suffer serious, life-altering injuries that can even result in wrongful death. Unlit stairwells, wet floors, and construction site defects can often have catastrophic results.
Just like any accident, you are never prepared for a slip and fall accident. So when a slip and fall accident does occur, most people are faced with having to make serious decisions, despite the fact that they may still have many questions. Questions like: What do I do? Who should I talk to? Who shouldn’t I talk to? Do I need to do anything before leaving the place I fell? All of this can be overwhelming. Worse yet, if you’ve been injured, what you say or do could potentially damage your claim. Insurance companies know this, and they work hard to take advantage of this fact.
Because the facts of your slip and fall and how it occurred are more often than not the determining factor as to whether you can recover for your injuries, it is important to take the right steps immediately following your slip and fall accident. To give yourself the best chance of recovering on your slip and fall claim, below are 5 steps you must take after a slip and fall accident.
Report Your Slip and Fall Accident
Because slip and fall accidents most commonly occur in public places, many people are initially embarrassed after they slip and fall. Often times, this feeling of embarrassment overrides the feeling of any injury you may have suffered. Because of this, many people downplay the accident and their injuries just so they can move on from what they feel is an embarrassing situation. This is a mistake!
After a slip and fall accident, one of the most important things you must do is to report the accident to the property owner or manager of the premises. Doing so will ensure that your accident has been documented so as to avoid a later claim by the insurance company denying that your accident ever occurred. Reporting your accident is also important because jurors are often skeptical of slip and fall claims even with the best evidence. If you fail to report your accident immediately after it happens, this will make your case much more difficult for a jury to believe.
Document the Hazard and Scene
In Florida, a property owner is only liable for a slip and fall accident under certain circumstances. To succeed in a slip and fall case, you MUST prove that your fall was caused by a dangerous condition (ex. spilled liquid); AND that the property owner knew of the dangerous condition before you fell (ACTUAL NOTICE) OR that the property owner should have known about the condition before you fell (CONSTRUCTIVE NOTICE).
To prove this requires evidence. Although sometimes the property will be equipped with surveillance cameras that may have captured your fall, this is not always the case. Surprisingly, many stores and other public places do not have cameras or they do not have a sufficient number of cameras to document every area on the property. That is why it is important for you or someone with you to document the hazard (spill, etc.) and the surrounding area where you fell. The best way to do this is by taking photographs or video. In doing so, it is important to note what the spill or hazard looked like (size, color, type of substance, etc.). It is also important to note what is in the area around the hazard. For example, maybe a store employee was mopping an area at the other end of the same aisle where you fell. If the hazard that caused you to fall is consistent with someone mopping that area earlier, this evidence would be very important to prove your case. It is also very unlikely that without a photo of the employee mopping, that the store or insurance company would ever tell you that they had just mopped your aisle.
If there are any witnesses who saw you fall, try to get their version of what they saw and their name and contact information so that your attorney can contact them later. Although you and anyone that was with you can testify as to what occurred, it is always best to have an independent third-party’s version of what occurred, if possible.
Don’t Give a Recorded (or Written) Statement
What often happens immediately after a slip and fall accident is that the owner, manager, or employee of the premises (store, etc.) will immediately come over to get your statement and start filling out paperwork. While there is nothing wrong with giving your basic information, such as your name, contact information, and a general statement as to what happened, you should avoid giving them a written or recorded statement, and you should also avoid signing anything. After a slip and fall accident, you are likely in a state of shock and in no condition to be providing information that can later be used against you. In addition, as time goes by and things calm down, you may recall additional details about your fall that you didn’t think of as you sat there immediately after falling. Insurance companies love to get injury victims on the record as quickly as possible to lock them into their stories. Until you first consult with an accident attorney, you should avoid letting this happen.
Seek Medical Attention Immediately
Although this is number 5 in our list of steps you should take after a slip and fall accident, it is obviously the most important step of them all. Your health and safety should be your first priority over anything else. If you believe you have been seriously injured, stay where you are, and call for help. Do not attempt to stand up or move until help arrives. If you have someone with you, ask them to document the scene for you. In addition, make sure to report any injuries that you are aware of while still at the scene.
Many people make the mistake of thinking that they do not have to seek medical treatment if they believe that their injuries are only minor and will go away. This is a mistake! Often times, symptoms don’t develop right away. The longer you wait to see a doctor will only give the insurance company the additional argument that any injury suffered must not related to your fall.
Trust SouthShore Injury Attorneys With Your Slip and Fall Accident Claim
To ensure that you receive the compensation that you deserve after your slip and fall accident, it’s important that you consult a slip and fall attorney as soon as possible after your accident. The attorneys at SouthShore Injury Attorneys are experienced in representing personal injury cases throughout the State of Florida. If you’ve suffered injuries due to a slip and fall accident, contact SouthShore Injury Attorneys at (813) 419-3866 for a free consultation.
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