If you have been involved in a slip and fall incident, you have surely realized already you are not given a handbook on what to do next. All you may know is that you have been hurt, and you believe that someone else is responsible for that injury. So, you have fallen, sustained injuries… now what?
Step One: Take Photographs of What Caused Your Fall
Having photographs of the dangerous condition that caused your fall can be incredibly useful in settling your case. Getting those photographs is sometimes not as simple as it sounds. However, you should take photographs as soon after your incident as possible. Doing so assists to memorialize what the conditions looked like at the time of your fall. Without any photographs, it becomes necessary to rely on your memory to describe the condition. If there are any witnesses to the incident, they can be of benefit in describing the condition as well. However, a photograph is always a better option.
It can be difficult to consider taking photographs at the time of the incident. You may not have a camera or phone with you. You may be taken by an ambulance before you have a chance to take photographs. If that is the case, either yourself or someone on your behalf should go to the property and take photographs as soon after the incident as possible. Even if you cannot get back to the property until a week after the incident, a week-late photograph of the area is better than nothing.
When taking the photograph, ensure that you can identify the dangerous condition. But of almost equal importance, make sure to take the photograph in such a way that you can easily identify the property. In other words, take the photograph with more of a wide angle, so there are more surroundings visible in the photograph. Occasionally, a client will take photographs of ice in an effort to support their case, but they take the photograph so close to the condition that, while you can easily identify the ice, you cannot identify the property where the ice is. If we cannot connect the condition to the property, then the photograph will not be nearly as helpful.
Step Two: Notify the Property Owner
It is important to notify the property owner as soon after the incident as possible. Ideally, the property owner will be notified shortly after the incident, whether by yourself or someone else, so that he or she has an opportunity to inspect the condition, if he or she chooses to do so. If you cannot notify the property owner at the time of the incident, then you should try and give notice as soon as possible. If you fall on a property and an employee comes over to help, this will likely be enough to get notice to the property owner.
If you are at a commercial establishment, it may not be clear who the property owner is. When you are not sure who you should be notifying, your safest bet is to notify some sort of manager of the business. You should also obtain the name of whoever you reported your incident to.
This is important because some businesses will create some sort of incident report. That incident report memorializes the incident, the injury, and the date. Sometimes insurance
companies dispute that the incident even happened on the property. Having an incident report is useful to establish that the fall did occur on the property that we allege it occurred on. When there is a large gap in time between the time of the incident and notice to the property owner, then the insurance company is going to question the incident. This will make it more difficult to settle your claim.
Step Three: Seek Medical Treatment
After your injury, it is imperative that you seek immediate medical treatment. Any delay in seeking treatment can raise questions as to the legitimacy of your injuries (at least to the insurance companies). Occasionally, an injury will require an ambulance to take you from the property to an emergency room. If that is the case, it is important to follow the doctor’s advice after you are discharged from the hospital. Any gaps in treatment will also be questioned by he insurance company. If you are injured on a property but are able to leave independently after the incident, then you should consider if you should be checked out by anyone such as your primary care physician, an urgent care, or an emergency room. But whatever you do, do not delay in seeking treatment.
Step Four: Call Us
After you have taken the first three steps, now it is time to call us. In fact, even if you miss any of the first three steps, you should still call us. Our personal injury attorneys have extensive experience in handling slip and fall cases. We know exactly what the insurance company is going to want to see in order to reach a settlement on your claim. We know how to present your damages, such as your medical bills, lost wages, and any consequential expenses so that they are seriously considered by the insurance company’s evaluation.
There are many pieces to a personal injury case and if you are not familiar with them, then you are going to be at a severe disadvantage with the insurance company. Insurance companies deal with these issues all day, every day. If this is your first incident, then you will not want to go it alone. If an insurance company offered you a dollar amount to settle, how would you know if it’s fair? Do you know if your health insurance company will need to be paid back for medical expenses they paid on your behalf? A personal injury claim is not something that you want to just wing, if it is not handled appropriately, then you will never receive a fair settlement.