Do you know what to do if you’ve had a slip and fall accident? You may not be injured, but you won’t know that until you’re checked by a doctor—or when you try to stand up.
Falls account for about one-third of non-fatal injuries in adults in the US. While some slip and falls are just awkward and embarrassing, many falls can result in serious injuries. Some falls can be fatal.
A slip and fall accident may be the result of the negligence of another person. From trip hazards to insufficient lighting and incomplete maintenance, anything that causes you to fall and be injured comes under the heading of “premises liability.” That is, the property owner, manager or owner is required to make sure the place is safe for anyone who visits the property.
Do you know what to do if you find yourself in a slip and fall situation?
- Assess The Damage
When your fall is over, you’ve stopped falling, and you realize what’s happened, you need to take stock of the aftermath. Can you move? Are you bleeding, or feel like something is broken? Is there any property damage (watch, phone, other possessions, etc.?)
If you are able, and your cell phone isn’t damaged, (or if your smartphone screen is just cracked), start taking pictures of the accident area and any injuries that are visible (such as lacerations or bruises.) If any property was damaged, take pictures of that as well, and keep the property in a safe place to avoid further damage, and as evidence.
Your surroundings are also important. If you can see what caused your accident, take as many pictures of it as you can. This will be useful later—if you wait, it’s very likely that the obstruction will be removed or repaired.
Keep these pictures in a safe place, such as a flash drive or cloud-based storage, like Google Drive or Dropbox, for later.
If you are not able to take pictures, enlist the help of a passerby, witness or someone else nearby who can assist.
- Alert The Premises’ Owner Or Manager
If no one has done it, let the owner, manager, or an employee know you’ve slipped and are injured on their property. If you know what caused your accident, point it out after you’ve taken pictures first.
Many businesses will require their employees or management to write an accident report to document the accident, and to report it to the owner, or to corporate (if it’s a bigger company.) If possible, request a copy of the report before you leave.
You may also decide to write your own accident report to document the facts of your side of the accident. This would be an ideal way to document your case while the memory is still current, and prevent you from forgetting anything later. Add to it as needed, and document calls and contacts with insurance people, attorneys, company representatives, etc.
If there were witnesses to your accident, get their name and contact information, as well as a picture if possible. You (or your attorney) may need to contact them again, and if necessary, subpoena them to testify in court. Keep their info in a safe place for later.
- Seek Immediate Medical Attention
Because of the nature of fall-related injuries, it’s important to seek medical attention immediately. Whether you head to the nearest emergency room, an urgent care clinic nearby the accident site, or get a walk-in visit with your regular doctor, get help. Visiting a medical professional, even if you feel fine, is important for treating your injuries as soon as possible, as well as documenting your fall, injuries and treatment for your claim.
If you get up and leave, but feel bad the next day, the negligent party can claim that you were not badly injured—especially if you don’t get immediate medical attention. You may not be able to file a claim, receive a reduced settlement, or see your case dismissed.
- Get Help From A Personal Injury Attorney
The negligent party’s insurance company may call you right after the accident, as soon as the day after. They will ask about what happened, and may offer you a small settlement. Know that anything you say to them will be recorded, will be used to try and discredit you and to avoid paying you any compensation. If you file a lawsuit, your recorded comments will be used to get your claim and your lawsuit dismissed. If that happens, you won’t be able to recover any damages for your injuries.
Don’t speak with anyone about your accident until you speak to an attorney, no matter how much you’re being asked questions.
Hiring a Charleston, WV personal injury attorney with experience in slip and fall cases is your best defense. He or she can gather evidence, help find the responsible party or parties, and speak to the insurance companies on your behalf. Without one, you could find yourself with a small amount of money—or none.
The Love Law Firm For Your Slip & Fall
The Love Law Firm is Charleston, West Virginia’s personal injury law firm for slip and fall and other premises liability cases. Chad Love has been helping Charleston residents after accidents for more than 20 years, and is ready to help you. Call us today at 304-344-5683 or contact us online and schedule your free consultation. Our contingency fee arrangement means you won’t pay unless we win your case, with no money up front.