Get Immediate Help.
If you need help getting up or getting emergency care, ask for it. Depending on the severity of your injury, you may need to call an emergency contact, a store employee, the police, or paramedics to help you.
Tell the Proprietor You Fell While on the Property.
Let whoever is in charge (owner, employer, manager, or landlord) know you fell on their premises.
Ask to fill out an incident report. This will usually be in writing on paper, but may be in electronic format. It should include your contact info, your description of what happened, contact info for witnesses, and statements from the witnesses. Get a copy if you can. The business should submit the incident report to its insurance carrier to initiate your claim.
However, don’t get into a confrontation with anyone representing the business. Don’t ask about compensation, or talk too much. Accept immediate
assistance. Remember, the employees and managers represent the business and not you. Once you put the proprietor on notice, keep quiet.
If You Can, Document When, Where, and How You Fell.
If you are seriously hurt, taking photos is the last thing you think about. However, photos taken at the scene help document the incident. If you have someone with you, ask them to take photos for you. If not, take photos if possible.
Use a cell phone camera to take pictures of the area where you fell. Document the cause of your fall—standing water, floor mat, raised flooring, garbage, etc.—before an employee cleans up or fixes the hazard.
Record how you fell and anything you overhear employees say about your fall. Get contact information and statements from any witnesses, especially from employees. Use your phone to do this (if it has a recording feature), or write statements on paper. The incident report typically includes this information. If you get a copy of the report, you don’t need to record the info twice.
If you cannot get such information immediately because of your injury, go back later. The sooner you document everything—preferably the same day—the better. Once you return home, try to recall exactly what happened and write it down in a statement for your attorney. We all forget details as time passes, and details can make or break your case.
Be sure to keep everything: your statement, photos, the incident report, any witness statements, your dirty or damaged clothing, shoes, and other objects damaged by your fall. Such items may be useful later as evidence.
Get the Treatment You Need.
- Seek medical help immediately if you have an injury from the fall. We tell everyone: Get the treatment you need.
- Use your own health insurance, if you have it, to pay for your treatment.
- Tell your doctor all the details about your injury, and start treatment as soon as possible. If you have a serious injury, don’t wait to get treated.
- After you get on the road to recovery, you can think about a legal claim.
Let Go of the Small Stuff.
The store’s employees may not be properly trained to react in an emergency situation. They may react with indifference or even hostility towards you. They may ignore you, refuse to help, or act rudely. While we expect people to behave better, you cannot sue someone just for being rude. However, experiencing such behavior can rob your peace of mind if you let it. The best thing for you is to let it go and focus on getting better.
Talk with a Personal Injury Attorney.
We recommend you contact an attorney to evaluate your claim. Most personal injury lawyers will not charge you for an initial consultation. An experienced attorney will assess whether you have a claim and its value. If you have an economically viable claim, you will likely need an attorney’s help to make a recovery.
Beware of accepting a settlement offer before speaking with a lawyer. Accepting an initial offer might bind you to an agreement with unfavorable terms, which is not in your best interest. Even if you perceive you have only minor injuries, you may still recover more than you think. Also, what starts out as a minor injury could turn into something more serious. Having a legal representative on your side may help you recover what you deserve under the law.
We Hope You Never Need Us, But We’re Here for You When You Do.
If you need help with a slip and fall, trip and fall, or other personal injury claim, call us. We offer a free consultation. Even if we do not take your case, we may be able to provide you with advice or other help to resolve your claim.