A slip and fall accident can happen anywhere, anytime. Many hazardous conditions can lead to dangerously slippery surfaces and a fall - wet leaves gathering in an entranceway, ice in a parking lot, a wet floor at the gym, spilled food on a restaurant floor, or an oily service station forecourt. Typically, a property owner will carry insurance that provides coverage when someone is injured on their property. Sometimes, a person falls because a hazardous condition has been created or ignored by a property owner, landlord, or manager. When that happens, the injured victim may be entitled to bring a legal claim for compensation for their injuries.
If you are hurt in a slip and fall accident, these Five Things To Do After a Slip and Fall Accident are a good starting point for you, but this is not individualized legal advice for your specific situation. Every slip and fall accident is different. You should contact a reputable slip and fall attorney to ensure that you know your legal rights, and are properly compensated for your losses and injuries. Our slip and fall attorneys at Morris James have helped many injured victims and are available to answer your questions. Contact us online or by calling 302.655.2599 today.
After a slip and fall accident, there are many things to do and remember but this shortlist of five will help you to focus on what is important:
1. Get Medical Attention
When you have been hurt in a slip and fall, you should first tend to your injuries. You may need to have someone call 911 or bring you to an emergency room if your injuries require immediate medical attention. Even if you do not need emergency medical care, you should see a healthcare provider promptly after the fall to evaluate your injuries. Sometimes, injured victims ignore seemingly minor injuries that can turn into more serious, chronic, or aggravating conditions. You should never ignore injuries from a slip and fall accident.
Seeing a medical provider is not only important for your own health but also for any insurance or legal claim after the accident. The medical report that you receive from your physician or other healthcare provider will often be used as evidence of your injuries as a result of the slip and fall.
2. Gather Evidence
Any insurance claim or legal claim you bring will rely on the facts and evidence you have to support it. If you have been involved in a slip and fall, you should have evidence that shows the circumstances that led to your accident and the injuries and expenses that you have incurred as a result. Evidence could include photographs or videos of the scene of the accident, statements from witnesses, and medical or accident reports. A photograph may show accumulating ice or a trip hazard. A witness may be able to describe the wet floor with no warning sign. An accident or medical report might describe the environmental conditions or the extent of your injuries. Use your cellphone (or other means) to easily record photos and videos at the scene, and gather contact details from witnesses.
You should also ask the business or property owner as soon as possible, in writing, to preserve any security footage from the property around the time of the slip and fall accident. Many businesses delete their security footage on a regular schedule and so it could be lost if you do not ask.
Anything that may prove how the accident happened, who was at fault, the extent of your injuries, and your financial or other losses as a result of the accident could be evidence and should be preserved and shown to your attorney.
3. Report the Accident
A slip and fall accident should be reported to the store manager, property owner, landlord, or other person who owns or manages the property where you fell. Most businesses will have a standard accident report form that you can use to notify them of the accident. You should ask a staff member for this form if they do not provide it, and keep a copy of the completed form for your records. If they will not copy it for you, use your cellphone to take a photo or scan. Your accident report should be accurate and sufficiently detailed to understand the accident, but should not admit any fault or liability.
If you are unable to submit a written report at the time of the accident because of your injuries or other reasons, try to make sure that someone at the property is verbally notified of the fall when it happens, and contact the business or property owner as soon as possible afterwards to submit a written accident report form. If they do not provide an accident report form, send them a written letter detailing the time, place, and circumstances of the accident. Keep a copy of your letter and any other correspondence about the slip and fall.
4. Know What to Say to Insurers
Most property and business owners have insurance coverage for slip and fall accidents on their property. When you report the fall, they will notify their insurance company who might contact you directly to discuss the accident. You should not make any statements to an insurance company before talking to a slip and fall attorney. Anything that you say to an insurer could affect your claim and your compensation. An insurance company is a for profit business that will try to minimize the amount that they pay out to you. If you admit any fault in the accident or accept a lowball settlement offer (such as an offer to pay your medical bills if you agree not to sue,) you will get less compensation.
If you do receive a call from an insurance company, let them know that you want to speak to an attorney before answering their questions, and contact a slip and fall attorney for advice. Your attorney can then communicate with, and negotiate with, the insurance company directly to ensure that your rights are protected and your settlement amount or compensation award is sufficient for your injuries and losses.
5. Call an Attorney
You should contact an attorney as soon as possible after being injured in a slip and fall accident. The business or property owner or their insurance company may contact you very soon after an accident, and you should be prepared. An attorney can advise you on what you should and should not say, and can even step in to handle these calls and letters for you.
You will likely have expenses from medical bills, missed work, or other costs after a slip and fall accident. You should not have to bear these costs. An attorney can advise you on the types of costs that you are legally entitled to be compensated for after a fall, the future expenses that you might incur, and the typical settlement range for an accident similar to yours (though no level of compensation is ever guaranteed.) Typical losses that can be compensated after a slip and fall include:
- Medical bills
- Physical therapy bills
- Ambulance fees
- Pharmacy expenses
- Lost wages and benefits due to missed work
- Home and vehicle modifications
- Physical and emotional pain and suffering
- Future medical bills
- Future lost income
An attorney will walk you through which of these expenses apply in your situation, and calculate the future cost of your care and lost income into the future. They can also deal with the insurer directly on your behalf so that you can focus on your recovery.
Many victims undervalue their expenses and future costs. They often do not realize all of the expenses that can be included in a compensation award or understand how to properly value future losses. As a result, unrepresented victims typically accept lower settlement offers and receive lower compensation awards than victims who have legal representation. If you have an experienced slip and fall attorney on your side, you have a much better chance of receiving the compensation that you need to pay your bills and move on after your fall.
At Morris James, our attorneys have been standing up for victims since we opened our doors in 1932. If you have other questions about slip and fall accidents, you may find answers in our Slip and Fall FAQs, or contact us online or at 302.655.2599 to learn more.