Suffering a slip and fall accident can be a jarring and unsettling experience. If you’ve recently taken a tumble on someone else’s property, don’t panic. There are important steps you should take to protect yourself and document key details while everything is still fresh.
Seek Medical Attention
If you’ve been injured in a fall, your top priority should be getting medical care right away. Adrenaline and shock can sometimes mask serious injuries, so it’s important to get checked out even if you feel fine. Some injuries like concussions or internal bleeding may not have obvious symptoms at first.
Seeking prompt medical attention does two key things:
- Gets you the treatment you need. Early treatment can greatly improve recovery time and prevent minor injuries from getting worse.
- Documents your injuries. Your doctor will record all accident-related injuries and treatment. This creates a paper trail that can be very helpful if you choose to pursue legal action later.
When seeing a doctor after an accident:
- Explain that you were recently injured in a slip and fall.
- Thoroughly describe how the accident happened and what symptoms you’re experiencing.
- Have the doctor document all injuries in detail in their notes.
- Ask for copies of all medical records for your own personal records.
Photograph the Scene
If possible, take photos of the area where you fell right away. Photographs can capture important details that may be corrected or forgotten later, such as:
- Wet or uneven flooring
- Clutter or debris
- Poor lighting
- Lack of safety equipment like railings or warning signs
- Take wide shots to capture the overall area.
- Get close-ups of any specific hazards or causes of your fall.
- Take multiple photos from different angles and distances.
- Use a common object like a coin for scale if needed.
- Capture any visible injuries with close-up photos.
Write Down What Happened
As soon as you’re able, write down a detailed account of how the accident occurred. Include specifics like:
- The date, time, and location of the fall
- What led up to the accident
- How you fell, what part of your body hit the ground, etc.
- Safety problems you noticed (wet floor, poor lighting, etc.)
- Areas that were under the property owner’s control (walkway, stairs, etc.)
- Injuries suffered
- Witness names and contact info
Writing down details helps seal in an accurate memory. If you wait too long, important facts may be forgotten.
Report the Incident
Alert the property owner or manager about the slip and fall accident right away. This creates an official record that you reported the incident promptly.
Reporting the accident quickly also ensures that any dangerous conditions are fixed before someone else gets hurt. The area should be closed off until it is made safe again.
- Ask to file a formal incident report.
- Get a copy of the report for your records.
- Follow up in writing with a letter recounting your accident and injuries. Send it certified mail.
Consult an Attorney
Slip and fall claims can become complex legal matters with strict statutes of limitations. Consulting a personal injury attorney helps ensure you take the right steps to best protect your rights.
An experienced lawyer can handle collecting evidence, proving liability, estimating damages, negotiating settlements, and filing a lawsuit if needed. This allows you to focus on recovery.
When choosing an attorney, pick someone experienced specifically in slip and fall cases. Premises liability laws have nuances an attorney should understand inside and out.
Slip and fall cases hinge on being able to prove who was at fault and how the accident occurred. Over time, evidence can be lost and accounts can become less clear in hindsight.
That’s why it’s so important to act right away after an accident to document the scene, your injuries, and exactly what transpired. Pursuing compensation takes time, so starting the process as soon as possible is key.
With the right evidence and legal support, you can pursue the maximum recovery possible after a devastating slip and fall accident. Just be sure to follow these key steps. Acting promptly and strategically can make a big difference in the outcome of your case down the road.