Faceplanting in a crowded grocery store, restaurant, or office can be extremely embarrassing. You might be tempted to gather yourself, leave the scene, and forget the incident as soon as possible. It is important to recognize that even a seemingly innocuous slip and fall can cause substantial physical harm. If the incident was caused by some sort of property defect – a slick surface, uneven flooring, an unstable step – the property owner can potentially be held liable for your injuries.
Prevailing in a premises liability claim will require demonstrating that the property owner was negligent in maintaining safe conditions. This is not always easy to prove if you leave the scene without gathering critical evidence. Below, we review the steps you should consider taking after being injured in any type of slip and fall accident.
Make Sure You Are Okay
Experiencing a slip and fall can be disorienting and frightening, especially if you hit your head. Take a moment to self-assess in the immediate wake of an accident. In serious cases where any portion of your body strikes a sharp edge or a hard surface, you may require immediate medical attention. If you are in substantial pain or have been severely injured, call 9-1-1 and summon emergency medical help.
Gather Contact Information of Any Witnesses
Many slip and fall incidents occur in public businesses, and other patrons or employees may see what happened. Try to get the names, phone numbers, and addresses of any witnesses, especially anyone who helped you after you fell. Their testimony could prove invaluable if your case eventually goes to trial.
Assess and Document the Scene
Next, you will want to thoroughly evaluate the incident site. If possible, take photos and videos of where the fall occurred and any visible injuries you sustained. You should be looking for and documenting dangerous factors that contributed to the incident, such as poor lighting or floor obstructions. If you slipped as a result of a slick surface, be sure to document the area to demonstrate the presence (or non-presence) of any applicable warning signage, including traffic or hazard cones. Now is also a good time to look around and see if any security cameras may have captured footage of the incident.
Alert the Owner or Management
Find the nearest employee and request to speak to the property owner. If the property owner is not present or unavailable, the on-duty manager will in most cases suffice. Explain what happened from your perspective and clearly highlight dangerous conditions that contributed to the fall. You should also request copies of any available security footage and insist an official incident report be generated. Make sure your perspective is accurately reflected in this report and obtain a copy. This document will likely serve as an essential piece of evidence that establishes what happened while the events are still fresh in your mind. When speaking to the property owner, manager, or any employee, avoid apologizing for any reason or making any comment that could suggest you were partially responsible for the incident. For example, saying something like “I’m just so clumsy” could make it more difficult to recover damages later on.
Seek Medical Attention
Once you have left the scene of the accident, schedule a medical examination with your doctor as soon as possible. It is important that you establish a direct link between the incident and your injuries. Keep in mind that not all injuries will be immediately apparent. A blow to the head or a limb could just lead to soreness at first, but a medical professional may be able to detect serious problems that might otherwise go undiagnosed and untreated. Track any medical expenses you incur and procure copies of all relevant medical reports.
Hire Legal Representation
If your slip and fall was the result of a property owner’s negligence, you deserve to recover damages to compensate you for your injuries. It is important to quickly seek qualified legal advice and explore all available remedies. Our personal injury attorneys at Frohlich, Gordon & Beason, P.A. are prepared to help you recover compensation for medical bills, missed wages, physical and emotional pain and suffering, and more. We know how to navigate premises liability cases and can offer the experienced representation you need to succeed.
Contact us online or call (941) 960-7225 to request a free initial consultation today!