Accidents happen, but if you should sustain an injury from a slip and fall accident, you don’t want to take it lying down. The moment a slip and fall occurs, make sure to jot down the actual circumstances and be sure to answer these questions:
- What time of day did the slip and fall occur?
- What were the conditions surrounding the slip and fall?
- What shoes and clothing were you wearing?
- Did anyone witness your fall? Did you get their name and contact information?
- Was the accident inside or outside the facility or building where the fall occurred?
- Did the slip and fall take place on pavement or a wet or dry floor?
- Were there any obstructions that made you fall?
- Did the accident involve store or corporate staff?
Contact the Authorities
Immediately following a slip and fall accident, contact the store manager or authoritative person on the scene. Make someone in authority aware that an accident has occurred and you are injured. Most businesses have policies in place to report accidents and incidences. A corporate safety officer may interview you or ask you to fill out and sign an accident and incident report that will detail the slip and fall, including time and location the event occurred. Take photos of the exact location of your accident detailing the cause: a wet floor, broken or icy pavement, torn carpet, or product spill. Make sure to take photos of your injury. Take as many pictures necessary to depict the initial injury and if your break, wound or bruise gets progressively worse.
Get Immediate Medical Attention
If you are in need of emergency medical assistance, ask the store representative to call 911. If you suffered a severe back or head injury, broken bones or sprains, don’t hesitate to be examined by a physician. Some larger corporations may also have an on staff physician examine you. The worse thing after an accident is to do nothing. A serious slip and fall injury could cost you time off the job, lost wages, and chronic pain. The best recourse after a fall is to get professional medical help immediately and carefully document your case. If at first it appears that you are not seriously injured, be sure to document any changes and get medical help if the condition worsens.
File a Slip and Fall Case
Filing a slip and fall case is not a do-it-yourself project. Big and small businesses, retailers, and mom and pop stores are prime targets for fraudulent slip and fall claims; so you will want adequate legal representation to present and win your legitimate case. Hire an attorney who is experienced in presenting and winning slip and fall cases. Check the Better Business Bureau for past histories and ask friends, neighbors, coworkers and associates for suggestions.
An attorney will first interview you and assess whether or not you have a legitimate claim. He will attempt to rule out any negligence on your part before agreeing to take your case. For instance, if you slipped on wet pavement in a store parking lot while you were wearing a pair of stilettos, the chances of you winning a case are slim and none. However, if you had on a pair of sneakers and slipped on a patch of broken concrete a store owner had failed to repair, yes, you will likely have a solid slip and fall case.
Be Prepared to Win
Before you meet with your attorney, be sure to bring your notes regarding the accident, along with information on how many days you missed work due to injuries, whether or not you received medical care or were hospitalized, and whether or not you were able to return to work. Your attorney will also want to know whether or not you sustained long term or chronic injuries that adversely impact your ability to be gainfully employed.
If warranted, your attorney will also schedule an appointment with a physical injury therapist who will work with you not only to help your injury heal, but also to document doctor visits and substantiate your claim. X-rays, physical therapy sessions, prescribed medications, and consultations all become part of your medical record and claim for compensation.
Bear in mind that business owners and corporations dread compensating slip and fall victims. They are frequently the victims of fraudulent claims and will fight tooth and nail to try to disprove your statements or relate your slip and fall injury to a previous accident or health condition. That’s where an astute attorney is your best ally. If you have given her solid documentation, an iron clad account of how and when the accident occurred, and definitive proof the accident was caused by corporate negligence; then you have a good chance of winning.
What You Can Expect
Large and small corporations usually hire attorneys to investigate slip and fall claims. You can expect the corporate attorney to ask for a deposition in the presence of your lawyer. Corporate attorneys look for any inconsistencies between your sworn statement and the suit filed by your lawyer. In a slip and fall claim, the opposing lawyer is not your friend. Their goal is to repudiate the business owner’s responsibility. However, it will be your consistent, persistent and insistent true statement recorded during the deposition, coupled with your lawyer’s professionalism and persuasion that will help win the case.
The Cost of Winning
Slip and fall attorneys charge a percentage of the total award after expenses, usually one-third. Your lawyer is responsible for dispensing monies for medical and therapy expenses and documenting the same. He may also provide a hard copy of the recorded deposition, a hard copy of the claim filed and the judgment awarded on your behalf. Keep records for future reference.
If you’re ever the victim of a slip and fall accident, documentation and adequate legal representation are crucial to winning your claim.