Immediately after a slip and fall accident, there are a number of very important things, which you really need to do right away. I cannot emphasize enough how important these things are to proving your case. In fact, without doing these things immediately after a slip and fall accident, many people can never prove their case, regardless of the seriousness of their injuries. Slip and fall cases are very different from all other types of injury cases in the evidence needed to prove these cases, so it is absolutely imperative that you do these things ASAP! Overall, you need to understand that just falling on someone’s property does not automatically make them responsible for your injuries. Many critical facts can make or break slip and fall cases, so this is what you should do to give yourself the best chance of recovering money for your injuries:
Things To Do After Any Slip & Fall Accident
- Get medical treatment immediately. If you were injured in a slip and fall accident, but have not received medical treatment, you need to be seen by a doctor right away. Every single day that you wait potentially reduces the value of your slip and fall case. The reason is that insurance companies and corporate defendants always argue that the accident did not cause your injuries, or that your injuries aren’t as serious as you are claiming. Delays and gaps in treatment strengthen those arguments (for the defendants). You also cannot prove medical injuries without medical records & bills. They are absolutely essential to any sort of recovery. You should either go to the emergency room (best for your legal case) or a walk-in clinic or your own family doctor. Do not delay treatment. You can call me from the ER waiting room if you are able. Additionally, tell your doctor or medical provider that you were injured in an accident. This can be very important to having your medical records reflect that your injuries happened when you slipped and fell. You should also mention ALL of your symptoms, no matter how minor.
- Do not miss medical appointments and follow your doctor’s recommended treatment. If you have a pattern of missing medical appointments, many jurors will assume that you weren’t seriously injured or had begun to heal whenever you started missing appointments. Same thing if you refuse recommended treatment. The one caveat is that you should avoid pain pills, even if that’s the treatment suggested by your doctor. Instead insist that your doctor consider other forms of treatment, such as physical therapy, chiropractic treatment, injections or even surgery in serious injury cases.
- Report your slip and fall accident to the property owner or manager. You should immediately report your slip and fall accident to the landlord, store manager, homeowner, or the person with the highest rank in charge of the property where you fell. If your accident happened at a business or rental property, the landlord or manager should take a report of the incident. If you were taken by emergency personnel to the hospital for treatment, you or one of your friends or family members should call back to report the incident as soon as possible. Additionally, either before leaving the scene, or after you leave the hospital, you need to get a copy of the accident report, even if the police did not take the report (meaning, if a store employee or manager wrote a report, you need to request a copy from them). Juries tend to seriously question slip and fall accidents that were not reported at least by the day after the accident. In other words, you might still have a technical legal case, but a jury might award you much lower damages (or none at all), unless you reported the accident right away. Refuse to complete any portion of the form yourself and refuse to sign the form. Or, if you do, make sure you very accurately report how you fell. My best advice is to refuse to complete or sign any forms. You are not legally obligated to complete or sign their forms.
- Limit communication with business owners, employees or other witnesses. Also, keep your talking to a minimum, other than to report the accident. Do not get into detailed discussions about how you slipped and fell. These people can later testify regarding whatever you said, so keep talk to a minimum without being rude. I’ve seen cases that lost all value when the person downplayed their injuries, explained the reason for their fall, or took blame for the fall in casual discussions.
- Limit communication with homeowners. If you fell on a homeowner’s property, you can tell them that you fell, but try to avoid becoming emotional or angry. Limit talking to them as much as possible and don’t argue with them. If you slipped and fell on a friend’s property, remember that slip and fall attorney’s generally seek compensation from homeowner insurance policies, rather than defendant assets (there are exceptions but that is generally how this works). So, in most cases, the insurance company pays the claim. If possible, try to get the name of the homeowner (or tenant AND landlord) and his or her insurance information.
- Take LOTS of photos FAST. You need to QUICKLY take LOTS of photos, including close up & wide angle views, from numerous different directions, of the EXACT location where you fell, as well as any conditions that contributed to your slip & fall. I cannot overstate the importance of taking these photos immediately!! If you are too injured to take them yourself, send a trusted friend or family member. Many attorneys (including me) cannot even evaluate a case without these photos. Additionally, these photos are very important when determining who is to blame for your slip and fall injuries, as well as who owns the property. Also, a business owner very well might clean or repair whatever caused your fall, very quickly after any accident (on the other hand, many times they do not–so if the accident occurred in the recent past, you should still try to go back and take pictures–do not just assume they will have already repaired the problem because oftentimes they do not). Taking pictures quickly can be especially important if you fell on any liquid (such as rainfall), or fell in a hole in dirt, or fell on something that was obviously in need of repair. The reason is that liquid will quickly change, dry, or be cleaned, dirt can be moved, and things needing repair can be repaired. You should also take photos of your own injuries.
- Determine what caused you to slip and fall. For example, if the floor was slippery, you need to determine what caused the floor to be slippery, such as spilled grease or other liquid. If you do not know the cause, very often we cannot prove your case.
- Determine how long the dangerous condition had existed. In many cases, we have to prove how long the dangerous condition had existed. The classic example is a banana peel. If a banana peel fell on the ground 20 seconds before you tripped and fell, particularly if caused by someone other than a store employee, then they would not likely have liability. So we need to know details about the banana peel to prove your case. So you need to carefully observe (or think back and remember) details about whatever caused you to fall: was there dirt in the liquid or banana peel? Were there track marks? Was something frozen thawing? Did you hear anything fall some time before you tripped? Did the substance look old for any reason? Often we need to prove that the substance had been on the ground for at least 15 if not 30 minutes. (Note: there is a different rule when you slipped and fell on something other than a foreign substance, such as some part of the building structure.)
- Witness contact information. You should try to get the names, addresses & phone numbers of anyone who witnessed your fall, or the condition that caused your fall, or how you reacted after the fall. Try to include the names of any store employees who witnessed the fall, who were in the area near your fall, or who completed the accident report. If anyone says that similar falls have happened before, make a mental note, and try to get their contact information. You could even use a recording device (such as a smartphone) to record their initial impressions after your slip & fall accident.
- Never participate in giving a recorded statement! Unless and until you have hired an attorney, please (I’m begging) do not agree to provide a recorded statement to the business or insurance company working for the business. I promise their only goal is to get you to say something that they can later use to disprove your slip and fall case. They are not being your friend nor will they fairly evaluate the value of your injuries. There are an infinite number of ways that a recorded statement can destroy your slip and fall case entirely. Do not give them. Never. No exceptions. However, if you have already given one, then you should still call me. Sometimes injured people manage to get through these without hurting their case. I can review any recorded statement and determine whether you have admitted anything that would hurt your case. Just know that I always cringe when I learn that one of my clients or potential clients has already given a recorded statement. The law does not require you to participate in these recorded statements.
- Take detailed notes quickly. You should draft a few notes regarding what caused your fall, the weather, the date& time of the fall, as well as EXACTLY how you fell. This might include things like which foot stepped first and where, which part of your body hit the ground first, bracing for the fall, anyone who was near you or holding your hand, what type of shoes you were wearing, where you were looking when you fell, whether you noticed the object or condition that caused your fall before you fell, and anything else you can note that will help you remember the details of your fall when we talk.
- Save everything. Place the shoes and clothing that you were wearing in a safe storage place. Also take photos of them.
- Call me before you sign any insurance company or other papers. Oftentimes insurance companies or corporate defendants will offer to pay your medical bills in exchange for you agreeing not to sue them. This is a VERY BAD idea. They will make themselves sound like they are being fair, but will not pay the true value of your damages. Trust me. They are not your friend. They might pay for your initial medical treatment, but clients seriously injured in slip and fall accidents very often need future medical care. If you sign their papers, you will have given up your right to sue them, or have them pay for any future medical treatment, your pain and suffering, and any wage loss. You are entitled to those additional damages under the law but they will never tell you.
- Call me quickly. There are too many things to list that must be done right away in a slip and fall case. You can call or text me 24/7. If I do not answer, I will return your call quickly. Slip and fall cases involve complexities that should not be trusted to large settlement mill law firms, or non-attorney intake people answering calls. You need to talk to an attorney who will provide aggressive and highly personalized service, including an extremely detailed intake interview. I can help you increase the value of your slip and fall case damages.
I am an Orlando slip and fall attorney, but I am licensed and will accept serious injury cases throughout the states of Florida & Georgia. If you were seriously injured due to a fall, such as a spinal cord or brain injury, then I may be able to help you find a suitable attorney in another state.