I’ve practiced law for over 22 years and now specialize in what is known as premises liability, or what most people call slip/trip and fall cases. Through the years I have watched the law in our state swing to an extreme in terms of favoring property owners and the insurance companies that defend them.
Hopefully, no one who reads this blog will ever suffer a serious injury from a fall. However, if you do there are few simple things you absolutely must do to preserve any real possibility of pursuing a claim against the responsible parties.
The insurance companies typically defend cases involving falls by arguing a lack of notice of the hazard’s existence and claiming the hazard was open and obvious to you so you should have avoided the fall entirely. I will address the definitions and intricacies of these two defenses in a later blog. For now, I want to provide a few helpful tips to protect your rights in these situations.
- First, if you fall you must absolutely look to confirm what caused your fall. There can be no assumptions or guessing. You must “know” what caused your fall.
- Second, take pictures – lots of pictures. Before you leave the scene, take pictures of the hazard, the general area and anyone who comes to the scene.
- Third, get the names and phone numbers of anyone who claims they saw the fall, knows anything about what caused you to fall or comes to help afterward.
- Fourth, make sure to do an incident report and confirm the name of the person who helped you complete the report or took the report from you.
- Fifth, make sure you write down the date, time and exact location where the fall occurred. For instance, if you fell in a store, note the aisle or the closest display or if you fell outside note the closest landmark. Sixth, if you think you were injured, get to a doctor or hospital. A protracted delay in getting medical treatment could complicate or prevent relating the injuries to the fall.
- Lastly, do not speak to or give a statement to an insurance representative working for the property owner without first consulting an experienced attorney.
These things may seem obvious but when you are in pain, excited, or angry, little things like these seven tips can determine whether you receive financial compensation for your injuries or a dismissal of your case.