In the moments following a serious slip or trip and fall accident you are not thinking clearly. The last thing on your mind is how you will support your personal injury claim or lawsuit.
Even though you may have been shaken to your core, what you do next can make or break your personal injury claim.
The success of a slip or trip and fall lawsuit depends in large part on the evidence surrounding the fall and what the injured persons does in the hours or days afterward.
Get Medical Treatment Immediately
The first and most important thing to do after a serious slip or trip and fall on someone else’s property is to take care of yourself.
Right after the fall, if you are worried that moving will cause you further injury, do NOT move! Instead, insist that EMS or paramedics are called who will properly evaluate and treat you at the scene.
Even though it is may be embarrassing or inconvenient, if you have been injured from a fall, insist on being transported by ambulance to the hospital. This is important for two reasons.
Case in point – We routinely run focus groups on all the cases we handle and have heard many focus group participants say, “well they turned down ambulance transport, so how badly could they have been hurt?”
Worse yet, a lot of jurors think that if you turned down emergency medical treatment at the scene but later received extensive medical treatment, that you may be exaggerating your claim for money.
Insist on an Incident Report
The second most important step to take following a serious slip or trip and fall injury is to make sure an incident report is created.
An incident report is a document created by the owner of the property which document the occurrence of the fall, the date of the fall, witnesses to the fall and a description of what happened.
Slip and fall injuries are always met with a heavy dose of skepticism by insurance companies and juries. The incident report is your key piece of evidence to prove the fall happened. Because it is created by the property owner right after the incident, an incident report is often one of the most important pieces of evidence an insurance company or jury relies on in assessing the validity of your claim.
But don’t stop there – make sure the incident report is accurate. Ask to view the incident report before it is finalized in order to make sure it properly describes what happened. Insist on a modification if the incident report is incomplete or inaccurate. If the property owner or their representative refuses to change the incident report, request to write your own description of the events in the report.
If they refuse to let you add your own description, then you should draft an email or text of the event that will have a time stamp to show when it was created.
You should also insist on getting a copy of the incident report. This is your best chance of making sure the property owner does not alter or destroy the report afterward.
The third most important step to take after a serious slip or trip and fall injury is to take photographs! A picture is worth a thousand words (or more) when it comes to key evidence to support your fall injury claim.
Right after your fall, pull out your cell phone and take as many photographs as you can.
Take pictures of what caused your fall. Take pictures of the store employees and witnesses who were present. If people clean up or fix what caused you to fall, make sure to take pictures. Take pictures of any video cameras you see that may have captured surveillance of your fall. Take pictures and videos of everything surrounding the fall. You have no idea in the moment what might become important later, so take as many pictures as you can.
Additionally, take pictures of yourself. If you suffered a serious, visible injury at the scene of the fall, take a picture of it. If you develop severe bruising or other visible complications from your injury in the days after your fall, take pictures.
Slip and fall injuries are no laughing matter. They happen when you are least expecting it. Because you have no time to react, slip and fall injuries often result in devastating injuries. To protect your legal rights, makes sure to get medical care immediately, get an incident report and take pictures.