Everyone has slipped (or tripped) and fallen down at some point in their life. Most of the time, these falls don’t lead to injuries and simply happen because you weren’t paying attention or were clumsy. But occasionally these types of falls happen because of a dangerous condition—of one kind or another—that was caused by someone else’s negligence. In fact, slip and falls result in more than 1 million emergency room visits annually and are one of the leading causes of claims, according to the National Floor Safety Institute.
Fortunately, you have rights if you slipped and fell due to a dangerous condition on someone else’s property. Consulting with a Dallas slip and fall attorney who has experience in this field of law is a critical step you should take immediately after an accident. However, there are other steps you should take following one of these incidents that can dramatically increase your chance of success should you decide to file a claim against the at-fault party.
Step 1: Gather Evidence IMMEDIATELY After the accident
Important details and key information that may seem so clear in your mind immediately after your accident can quickly fade from your memory, particularly if you’re experiencing adrenaline from pain or stress from the incident. Documenting all of the details surrounding your accident as soon as possible can prove invaluable when you seek medical treatment and consult a Dallas slip and fall attorney.
If you don’t require immediate medical attention and can move about the area safely where the fall occurred, you should start gathering evidence while the dangerous condition is still present and while witnesses are still at the scene. Take pictures of anything that you think may have contributed to the slip and fall accident, including:
- Wet floors or clothing that may have become wet from the fall;
- Cracked tiles, pavement, etc.;
- Exposed cords and wires;
- Damaged stairs;
- Missing handrails;
- Objects and debris on the floor; and
- Inadequate lighting.
Your photos should also capture the absence of safety measures that could have prevented the slip and fall. For example, get wide shots of the area that contains the hazard, which would show there were no warning signs. Beyond photos of the scene, you should also take photos of your bruises, abrasions, and other signs of injuries you may have sustained.
Additionally, it is a good idea to preserve evidence—place the shoes and clothing you were wearing during the fall in a safe place, or take a photo of what you were wearing at the time. You may need these later as evidence to prove you weren’t wearing anything that contributed to the accident (like baggy pants or old, worn-out shoes).
Most importantly, talk to any witnesses before they leave the scene. Their testimony could prove critical when you file a claim, or if you decide to pursue a lawsuit, so remember to gather the names, contact information, and a testimony of what they saw.
Step 2: Seek Medical Treatment (Even If You Feel Fine)
When you slip or fall, your first order of business should be to see a doctor. Even if your injuries don’t seem severe at first, it’s better to be safe than sorry in the event you sustained an undetected injury. Taking this step is not only important for your health but also because any medical documentation will be used as a primary source of evidence when you pursue compensation from the at-fault party. Using the information that you documented, provide your doctor with a full picture of the circumstances that led to your slip and fall in order to receive an accurate diagnosis and to ensure that the medical report correctly reflects the details of your injury.
Step 3: Report Your Accident to Property Managers or Owners and Avoid Giving Statements
Informing the property owner, store manager or landlord where you had your slip and fall accident is an important step because it creates an official record of the incident should you pursue a claim or take legal action.
Request that they write a report about your incident and be sure to get a copy of it for your own records before you leave the scene. However, you need to be cautious in the information you provide both verbally and in writing. Don’t say anything to suggest that you may have been at fault for the slip and fall accident. For instance, don’t say “I tripped and fell over a pothole, but it could be because I wasn’t looking.” Just stick to the facts and provide an accurate account to the best of your knowledge and ability.
Outside of this, do not talk about your accident with anyone other than your doctor or attorney. Slip and fall accidents and other premises liability claims are usually covered by insurance. Once you have reported the accident to the property owner or manager, a representative for the insurance company may try to contact you and ask for a statement. However, you are not legally obligated to provide a statement to the insurance company and should refrain from giving one before receiving guidance from your Dallas slip and fall attorney, as they may try to use your words against you.
Step 4: Consult With a Dallas Slip and Fall Attorney to Maximize Your Chance of Success
Slip and fall accident claims can be complicated and are almost always disputed. When victims file claims, the at-fault parties generally try to deflect blame or refute the severity of the victim’s injuries. Keep in mind that it can be difficult to prove liability in many slip-and-fall cases, and large stores and property owners, in particular, may have resources that are hard to contend with on your own.
A qualified Dallas slip and fall attorney can help you navigate the process of collecting evidence (such as sending a subpoena to store owners for surveillance footage) and may provide you with the best chance of recovering damages from an at-fault property owner. Plus, studies show that claimants who are represented by an attorney tend to recover more in compensation than those who try to handle claims on their own. The best part is that most slip-and-fall attorneys offer free, initial consultations and work on a contingency fee basis, which essentially means you won’t pay anything unless they secure compensation for you. So, at the very least, you should take advantage of a no-obligation consultation to see if you have a case.
Learn How the attorneys at The Law Offices of Tim O'Hare Can Help You After a Slip and Fall Accident
The attorneys at The Law Offices of Tim O’Hare have extensive experience handling slip and fall claims, are well-versed in the challenges victims face after these types of accidents and will handle all the red tape so you can dedicate time to your recovery.
Every staff member at The Law Offices of Tim O’Hare truly believes in our mission to hold negligent defendants and insurance companies accountable when innocent people get hurt. While many of our cases are settled out of court, we’re not afraid to go against high-powered insurance companies and take your case to trial if that’s what’s required to obtain the compensation you deserve. Our results speak for themselves. If you’ve been injured in a slip and fall accident due to someone else’s negligence, don’t hesitate to contact us for a free, initial consultation. We work on a contingency fee basis, so you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.