What to do after a Slip and Fall
One of the ways that people are often injured in an accident is due to a trip and fall caused by a defect on someone’s property, or as a result of a slip and fall on a slippery condition. In order to protect yourself after being involved in such an accident, there are some common sense steps that you should take. Whether the fall is caused by a hole, tripping hazard, snow and ice, or some other defect in someone else’s property, taking these steps will help ensure that your rights are protected, should it be necessary for you to bring a claim for your injuries.
1. TAKE PICTURES. Now that most people have cell phones, it has become much easier to prove the condition of the area of the fall at the time of the accident. Quite often, soon after an accident, the dangerous condition is rectified, which means that if pictures are not taken immediately after the accident, it becomes much more difficult to prove that a dangerous condition existed. Therefore taking pictures will be the best way to show the exact condition at the time of the fall.
The following are pointers to make sure that you are able to get the best photographs of the area:
a. Take many pictures of the area. Some of the pictures should show the location in relation to other fixed objects in the area, in order to make it easier to show exactly where the accident happened. Get some from various angles if possible to truly show the full area of the accident.
b. If you have someone with you, ask if they can take some photos as well, with you showing the area of the fall. Have them also take pictures of any other evidence regarding the fall, such as pictures of wet clothing, any abrasions to your body, or such things as signs in the area, which can be used later in your case.
c. If possible, take a video of the area as well, panning across the area of the fall, to put it into context when used with the photographs. Videos, when done properly, can better show the full area where the accident occurred.
2. GET THE NAMES OF ANY WITNESSES TO THE FALL, OR THE CONDITION OF THE AREA. Having a witness, particularly one who is not a friend or family member, can be extremely helpful in proving your claim. Even if they did not witness the fall, by getting the names of people in the area that can at least confirm the condition of the area at the time of the accident, and that you reported it to someone immediately after the fall occurred.
3. IF POSSIBLE, REPORT THE ACCIDENT TO THE PROPERTY OWNER OR STORE MANAGER BEFORE YOU LEAVE THE AREA. While this is not necessarily required, it does make it likely that the insurance company will be placed on notice sooner, and that a report will be made confirming that you were involved in a fall on their property. You should be very careful however with respect to providing them information, since it will be used against you later if the defendant is able to show some inconsistencies or other negative information that you might provide them immediately after the accident.
4. DO NOT TALK TO ANY INSURANCE ADJUSTER WHO MAY CALL YOU FOR INFORMATION AFTER THE ACCIDENT. While it is natural to want to provide information about your case to the insurance company, you must remember that their entire job is based upon minimizing any payment for your injuries. You should always assume that the call is being recorded. Any mistake you might make when talking to them will be used against you in any future claim.
5. IF THE CASE INVOLVES SNOW OR ICE, TAKE NOTE OF THE WEATHER CONDITIONS AT THE TIME OF THE FALL. One pitfall that insurance companies can exploit is the claim of “Storm in Progress.” In New York, there is no duty to remove snow until after a storm has stopped. Therefore, if it is snowing heavily at the time of the fall, it becomes more difficult to pursue a claim. In that situation, it is worthwhile talking to an attorney with experience in such matters, since they can help you evaluate if there is the possibility of bringing a claim.
6. GET ANY NECESSARY MEDICAL ATTENTION AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. Quite often we see injured parties who decide to wait to see if the pain resolves itself before deciding whether to see a medical professional. Not only does that delay the necessary treatment, which might result in a worse medical outcome, it also makes proving the claim more difficult. You should provide a good history of the fall, which will be included in your medical records, which will help support your claim of when, where and how the fall occurred.
7. CONTACT AN ATTORNEY WITH EXPERIENCE WITH PERSONAL INJURY CLAIMS TO DECIDE IF YOU HAVE A CASE. Often, an injured person does not know any attorneys that limit their practice to personal injury cases, and they therefore contact the family lawyer to represent them, despite the fact that they may specialize in other areas of the law, or have a general practice to handle all types of matters. While this may be easier, given the numerous issues involved in personal injury claims, it is usually much more advantageous to find an attorney with extensive experience in handling those kinds of cases. You would likely not ask your primary doctor to perform surgery, and the same theory applies to personal injury cases. Finding someone who has handled thousands of such cases is likely to result in a faster and better result, than getting a lawyer who has only handled a few injury cases.
The Attorneys in our Personal Injury Department at the LoTempio P.C. Law Group have handled tens of thousands of personal injury claims over the years, and have significant experience in representing injured parties. Remember that there are no legal fees unless there is a recovery, and there is no charge to meet with one of our lawyers to discuss whether you have a case. Give us a call at any time to discuss your claim at 716-855-3761