What should you do after a slip-and-fall accident? What you do (or don’t do) can mean the difference between winning and losing. Learn a simple strategy for success.
The actions you take immediately after a slip and fall accident have a huge effect on the strength of your claim and your legal rights.
Your first reaction will be to feel ashamed and embarrassed. However, most slip-and-falls among adults of all ages happen because of external factors. So even though you feel awkward, you likely aren’t the cause of your slip-and-fall.
You also may be just partially responsible for your injuries. In Texas, you can still get compensation for your injuries, as long as you have 50% or less responsibility.
What should you ideally do if you experience a slip-and-fall?
Get Yourself Safe and Stable
Some slip-and-falls accidents cause broken bones, spinal injuries, tears, or head injuries. After you have fallen don’t be in a rush to immediately jump to your feet even if you’re embarrassed. Take time to inspect your injuries. Make sure you are safe and stable.
If you believe you have a serious injury, like a broken bone, or if you experience a head injury, stay still. Ask someone nearby for help, or call a family member. Taking action yourself, when you have a serious injury, can lead to you making the injury or injuries even worse.
Report the Accident to the Store Owner
If you can, let management know about your injury. Have someone nearby get a hold of management if you’re unable to do so.
Ask to make a written report of your slip and fall. Make sure to try and request a copy before you leave. If they won’t provide one to you take a photograph of the statement you have provided.
Don’t make any effort to resolve or discuss the situation. Right now, you simply want to let the property owner know the incident happened. Feel free to accept help if anyone offers.
Document the Accident Scene
Something as simple as loose carpet can cause your injuries. To prove your claim, document the scene of your slip-and-fall to the maximum extent possible.
Use your smartphone to take photos of the entire area. Take a video too. Don’t narrate your video because the property owner, or even other witnesses, could hear what you say and misinterpret what you mean. You can always explain your video later on.
Write down what happened, or go outside the store and use your phone’s voice recording to make a record of how you remember the situation happening.
Keep your ears especially open for an employee of the property owner making a comment about this happening before, or saying they had knowledge of the dangerous condition causing your injury. Try to get the name of the employee who makes any such comment. If you can, also make a note of other witnesses who heard the employee.
For now, the more evidence you have, the better.
If you can’t do this yourself because of your injuries, ask someone to help you.
Collect Witness Information
Witnesses are crucial to your claim. Send yourself a text with their name, address, and phone number, or have them text that to you immediately. Don’t stop at simply asking them for their phone number and writing it down yourself because you may make a mistake, and then you have no way of finding them.
You’ll want contact information for witnesses who saw you fall, and for ones who arrived after you fell. They can still explain the conditions of the floor (which the property owner may try to hide or change), and what injuries you appeared to have.
See a Doctor
If your injuries aren’t serious enough to warrant going to the emergency room immediately, do see a doctor as soon after your accident as you can.
What if you have a high insurance deductible and are worried you’ll get put through a battery of expensive tests?
Mention to the doctor you fell in a general way, but that you aren’t concerned you have any serious injuries at this point. It’s common for many serious injuries (like head trauma) to not become fully apparent until at least a couple weeks after your slip-and-fall.
This at least gets record of your injuries on paper soon after your accident, which protects the credibility of your claim. And it also protects you from expensive tests you can’t afford at this moment.
Alternatively, you can also call a personal injury attorney first. Some work with doctors and other medical professionals who delay billing until after you complete your claim!
Call an Attorney
As soon as your health stabilizes, and you feel able, contact a personal injury attorney. You get the most credibility, whether your claim settles outside of court or not, when you act quickly.
Otherwise, the defense asks, ”Why did you take so long to file your claim?” They try to make you look like you’re lying outright, or at least exaggerating the true nature of your injuries.
The sooner you act, the better.