Slip and fall accidents happen all the time—but that doesn’t mean they should. Whether it’s due to negligence or user error, 27% of nonfatal injuries require time away from work due to a trip and fall accident.
Slip and fall accidents happen most often on public property, like the workplace, which makes it one of the most common work-related personal injury accidents in the United States.
But no matter where or how your accident occurred, it’s essential to know the vital steps to take immediately afterward.
What Should You Do Immediately after a Fall?
Slip and falls can be serious and often result in life-threatening injuries. In fact, falls are the most common cause of traumatic head injuries. So, if you’ve been injured due to an unexpected slip and fall incident, then remember these important tips so that you can be well on the road to recovery.
Step #1: Get Medical Attention The Same Day
If you’ve slipped or fallen, seek medical attention right away. Even if you don’t think you’re hurt, it’s not uncommon for many problems to lay dormant until they just become worse, like brain, neck, or ankle injuries. Seeing a medical professional will help identify or rule out any potential issues.
Another critical point is that every day you wait might reduce your slip and fall case value. Many people don’t think that their incident is worth a civil lawsuit, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Due to the significant implications of slips and falls, there is almost always an opportunity to gain some settlement.
However, the longer you wait to see a doctor will make your injuries—and your case—less credible, so go to the hospital the very same day.
Step #2: Report Your Slip and Fall to the Property Owner
If possible, report your accident to the property owner before you go to the doctor.
If the incident occurred at a business, then the manager or owner will likely supply an incident report. The property manager can also obtain an online incident report from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) official website.
Be concise and detailed when telling the accident’s happenings and limit communication with the owner by not sharing any extra information. On the report, the owner will likely ask about:
- The time, date, and location of the incident
- What you were doing moments preceding the accident
- What caused the accident
- How you were hurt
- Names of other people present during the incident
- Your name, address, and contact information
- What happened after the accident (In this case, this should say that you filed a report with the property owner and sought medical attention immediately)
Request a copy of the report and double-check everything is accurate.
Step #3: Take Photos and Keep Documentation
Be sure the report includes when and where the accident took place, how you were hurt, and that you’re going to a medical professional. When you go to the doctor, request a copy of any paperwork they conducted.
Essential documents you must keep include:
- The property owner’s incident report
- The police or EMT incident report (if applicable)
- Medical bills
- Doctors’ notes
- Prescription notes
- Anything else that is relevant
Immediately following the accident, try to take dozens of photos at all different angles. If you can’t do this, then ask another person at the scene to do it for you, or call a family member or friend.
Providing photos of the scene can be extremely beneficial, especially if there was any liquid or obstructed flooring. This is because the defendant and juries may have doubts if the reports and photos aren’t immediately documented the same day. While you still may have a legal case, your settlement could get significantly lower without the right proof.
Step #4: Don’t Admit Fault and Limit Communication
When filing the report with the property owner, don’t discuss the slip and fall accident details. Only share the facts as they happened. You want to avoid saying anything that might be misconstrued as your fault. Property owners and businesses will do just about anything to dodge premises liability, so be direct and limit communications.
Avoid getting into detailed discussions about how you slipped and fell with coworkers, witnesses, friends, or family members. They may later be called to testify regarding whatever you said. Ultimately, anything that might give the jury doubt could hurt your case.
Step #5: Hire a Personal Injury/Slip and Fall Lawyer
There’s a lot you have to consider when it comes to a slip and fall case, which is why it’s essential that you work with an experienced personal injury or slip and fall law firm. Inexperienced lawyers won’t know what to look for in your case, so be sure to stick to the professionals you can contact anytime.
How Do Slip and Fall Accidents Happen?
Slip and fall accidents can happen anywhere. One of the most common places is in public areas like government property or the workplace.
As you can see, many slip and fall accidents are due to errors in judgment, which might include questioning whether to report a wet surface or debris that could be a tripping hazard. Some other examples include:
- Damaged flooring
- Inadequate lighting
- Potholes and ditches
But the truth is, no matter the intent, it’s not uncommon to experience a spinal cord injury, a brain injury, or hip fractures during a trip and fall incident. These slips are often severe no matter the cause: They are responsible for more than 8 million hospital visits each year—which is nearly 22% of all hospital visits!
Why Should You Work With a Personal Injury Law Firm?
Often, the last people think about is whether they should hire a lawyer as they recover from slip and fall accidents. Most attorneys understand the hesitation, but it can be extremely beneficial to have an experienced personal injury lawyer in your corner—and here’s why.
Benefit #1: They Have Excellent Negotiation Skills
Personal injury lawyers are negotiation experts. This means that they will always fight for you and won’t let you have a small settlement. Your lawyer will use proof of your injury through photos, medical records, documents, and testimonies. Plus, they’ll work hard to clear you of any fault so that there is no reasonable doubt.
Benefit #2: They Can Help You Through Litigation
Litigation—the process of filing a case and going through a trial—can be challenging and emotionally demanding. But your lawyer knows how to work a trial, including gathering proof and fighting the defense, who is likely the property owner avoiding premises liability.
Benefit #3: They Will Give You Peace of Mind
No matter your type of injury, having a slip and fall lawyer handle your case will give you peace of mind. While they fight for you, you can focus on resting and recovery.
Commonly Asked Questions about Slips and Falls
There’s a lot to consider before you move forward, so here’s what you should know before you decide to file a slip and fall civil lawsuit.
What Is the Average Cost of a Slip and Fall Accident?
As with most personal injury cases, there is no simple answer. The cost of your slip and fall accident entirely depends on the severity of your case.
To get a better idea of what your slip and fall accident may cost—or be worth—it’s best to ask trip and fall or personal injury attorneys during a free consultation.
How Long Does It Take to Settle a Slip and Fall?
Slip and fall cases can vary anywhere between a few months to a few years. This is why it’s essential to keep your incident reports, medical papers, and photographs. Doing so can significantly cut down the time it costs to reach a fair settlement. But in some cases, if the injury is severe, like a brain injury, the settlement could take longer to prove the actual damages.
Are Slip and Fall Cases Hard to Win?
Yes, they’re challenging to win, but that doesn’t mean they’re impossible. Only a small percentage of slip and fall cases go to a jury, which means most cases are solved in mediation or a civil lawsuit. The biggest problem is dealing with the property owners since they will do their best to avoid premises liability.
Slips and falls are one of the leading causes of emergency room visits, and depending on the type of accident, they could also have serious life-long injuries. If you’ve tripped, slipped, or fallen, then remember to keep calm and take the next steps:
- Go to a doctor right away
- Report the incident to the property owner
- Take plenty of photos and keep all documentation
- Limit communication and never admit fault
The sooner you start this process, the sooner you can focus on recovery—and get a fair settlement. Contact Schwartzapfel Lawyers for a free consultation on your slip and fall case.