1. Photograph everything immediately.
Any legal case, in which a party is trying to obtain compensation for injuries, has elements that need to be established to set forth a valid legal claim. However, just making a valid legal claim isn’t enough. Even if you have a valid legal claim, if you cannot convince the insurance adjuster for the at fault party, or later, a jury, that the condition was in fact dangerous, you simply have very little chance of a complete recovery.
The most effective way of convincing an adjuster or a jury that you were injured due to a dangerous condition is to photograph that condition, if possible, before you leave the scene. In other words, photograph everything. Most people have cell phones with cameras. Use them. Check your photos to make sure they are clear. If the photo wasn’t clear it is not going to help you. So take another photo.
If you are on the ground, take photos before you get up unless you are laying in a toxic spill. Take photos of the full 360° around you. Then stand up and take photos of the entire area again, this time including the area where you were laying. If your fall was caused by slipping on a liquid, have someone take photographs of your wet clothing, assuming you fell into the spill.
If you fell due to slipping in any type of liquid, make sure that you take photos of the extent of the spill, but also, importantly, close up photos of the edges of the liquid, and any areas where it looks as though someone stepped in it, slid in it, or dirt or debris in the fluid. Taking photographs of the edges of the liquid may reveal that the liquid was drying. That is important because it will help establish how long the liquid was on the floor before it caused you to fall. Foot prints or other sliding type of marks within the liquid show that you weren’t the first person to happen upon it, which may help establish the fact that it existed for a long enough period of time that the at fault party knew, or should have known, of the existence of the spill. Photos of dirt and debris also assists in developing a timeline of the spill in relation to the fall. Your photographs, coupled with any potential security video in an establishment, may greatly enhance your ability to prove liability in your claim, and enhance its value.
If you tripped over something, maybe something laying in a store’s aisle that shouldn’t be there, an unmarked display, a display with its ends extending into the area of floor traffic, a pallet being unloaded, or equipment left by staff in loading and unloading product, again, photograph everything. Do it while you’re laying on the ground if you can, then do it while you’re standing up. All your photos should cover the full 360° around the area where you fell.
If it is not a slip and fall case, you still want photographs of the area where you were injured to help explain the situation. Nothing helps a jury understand better than visual evidence.
2. If you fall while a patron in a business, if you have been injured, if you cannot get up, you’re bleeding profusely, or struck your head severely, call for help.
No further explanation is needed. Medical attention is imperative in this type of situation. Get help first. If you are alert enough and are still able to take photos, take any that you can, but do not do so if it puts you in any danger.
3. Report it to the store manager.
If you can get up, ask to see a store manager and tell them that you were injured. They should assist you in filling out an accident form, or fill it out themselves. If they do not, ask them to get an accident report. If they still refuse to do so, do one yourself when you get home and bring back two copies to the store as soon as possible. Ask the manager to sign both and keep one copy for yourself and give one copy to the store. If manager or store representative refuses to sign it, simply write on it before giving it to him or her, that the “manager or representative refused to sign”. A jury likely will not appreciate that type of action by a representative of a business if someone is complaining of an injury.
4. Get medical treatment
The value of your case is only as good as the medical treatment you obtain. If you do not obtain regular medical treatment, the value of your claim is likely diminished, even if you are hurt. If you are hurt, get to a doctor as quickly as you can.
When you go to the doctor, be brutally honest. If he or she asks you how you’re doing, don’t say “great”, or even “okay”. If you weren’t hurt, you wouldn’t be going to the doctor. Be thorough and provide information regarding all areas of your body which hurt as a result of this incident. Do not try to self-diagnose. Chances are, you are not a doctor. What you may think is a headache could be a concussion. What you may think is a pain in the neck and or back could be herniated discs.
5. Get legal assistance
There are numerous studies indicating that people who retain attorneys in personal injury cases collect far larger recoveries than those who try to represent themselves. The phone call you get from the “nice man or woman” affiliated with the company or insurer of the entity that owns the store where you were hurt is not trying to assist you with your recovery. They are trying to get you to settle the claim for less than what it is worth. Don’t fall for that. Get an experienced attorney, who has considerable knowledge and experience in dealing with this kind of claim. Slip and fall cases, or trip and fall cases, are not easy and there are many potential pitfalls to the unwary. The injury attorneys at Wells Law Group can help you through the hardships associated with these type of claims.