Slip and fall accidents aren’t something you plan for, so it’s hard to know what to do next when one happens. Though the force of the initial impact can be difficult to shake, it’s important to remember that your physical, emotional, and financial well-being might be at stake, and you’ll want to act accordingly. In this post, Erie Injury, Erie, Pennsylvania’s slip and fall personal injury attorneys, explain everything you need to know after a fall to ensure you’re compensated fairly.
What is a Slip and Fall Accident?
Slip and fall accidents are a type of personal injury that occurs on another person or entity’s property in which a person slips or trips and, as a result, falls. Common causes of slip and falls include:
- Wet floors
- Broken stairs or handrails
- Spills on the floor
- Icy parking lots and sidewalks
In the United States, slip and falls account for over one million emergency room visits each year. What’s more, slip and falls are the leading cause of workers’ compensation claims and the leading cause of occupational injury for those aged 55 and over.
After a slip and fall accident, the property owner’s insurance company will quickly attempt to contact you in hopes of getting a recorded statement. Do not talk to the insurance adjuster without an attorney. Insurance companies will try to use your statement to deny liability for your fall. Instead, follow these steps immediately after the incident, and contact a lawyer as soon as you’re able.
Seek Medical Attention
After a fall, your health and safety should be your number one priority. Even if you don’t seem to be hurt, a thorough check-up with a doctor will ensure no minor bumps and bruises turn into a more severe injury down the line. Plus, your physician will document any resulting ailments, which will provide the necessary proof of injury your lawyer will need during the settlement process.
Inspect the Scene and Determine Why You Fell
When you’re able and safe, take a look around the scene to determine what exactly caused you to fall. Pay close attention to environmental conditions such as ice or snow build-up, obstacles left by a landlord or an employee of the premise, loose floorboards, uneven carpet, or any other potentially dangerous condition that could have caused you to fall. Once you’ve identified the area of concern, photograph it thoroughly.
If possible, try to determine how long the dangerous condition was present on the property. The longer the circumstance persisted, the more likely your fall resulted from negligent ownership.
Witnesses can be a crucial component for verifying events. Look for any bystanders in the vicinity who may have seen you fall, and, at minimum, get their contact information. However, it’s important to remember that your fall isn’t as important to the witness as it is to you. Therefore, if the witness is willing, it can be helpful for your attorney to get a recorded or written statement shortly thereafter. The reason being, they’re more likely to remember essential details just after the fall happened, and it’ll save you the hassle of trying to track them down as the case progresses.
Document the Accident
Proper documentation provides the proof you need to show negligence on the property owner’s part, so you must take the time to record as much of the incident as possible.
Take photos of what caused you to fall and be sure to take a few pictures of your resulting injuries. Additionally, try to secure any available video footage from security cameras in or around the property.
Keep a written record for your own purposes, including the date, time, and location of the fall. Note what you were doing right before the fall happened, and keep track of any witnesses or other people you spoke with when the incident occurred. Taking these steps as you go will ensure you don’t leave out any critical details that could help bolster your settlement or otherwise solidify your case.
Of course, keep track of any doctor’s bills or other accident-related expenses, including absence from work. Your attorney will use all of this information when determining a proper settlement amount.
*Bonus Tip: Stay off social media. While it might feel like an instinct to appeal to your networks for a kind ear and supportive advice, any statement you make on the internet can be used against you later. One comment about feeling alright or “just tripping” could result in a negative outcome for your case.
Make an Official Report
Before you leave the scene, file an official report with the property owner or manager. It’s ok to be vague in the initial filing, but you’ll want to include enough detail that indicates the possible severity of your injuries without adding any embellishments.
Filing a report before you leave the premises shows that you take the accident seriously. Of course, this report will likely prompt the property owner to enter a claim with their insurance company. A claims adjuster will then call you requesting a statement. It’s critical that you don’t answer this phone call. Instead, contact a lawyer immediately, and they’ll deal directly with the insurance company for you.
Find an Attorney
It’s vital to hire a personal injury lawyer expeditiously, as evidence needs to be preserved, and the property owner’s insurance company needs to be put on notice.
In Pennsylvania, property owners, including commercial property, apartments, and single-family homes, are required to maintain a safe environment for residents and visitors. When a slip and fall happens, you must prove the other party was negligent for your damages to be covered.
However, know that insurance companies and property owners will work hard to make sure they’re not held accountable for the accident. Hiring an attorney who specializes in slip and fall accidents is essential as the court is less likely to settle in your favor when a lawyer isn’t present.
Get the Help You Need
Slip and falls are scary, and it’s hard to know exactly what to do when they occur. After seeking medical attention, consider hiring a personal injury lawyer who focuses on slip and falls to help ensure your injuries are covered. If you’ve recently had a slip and fall accident and need help understanding your rights, contact an attorney at Erie Injury today.