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What to Do After a Slip and Fall Accident

person in a slip and fall accident

People tend to think that a slip and fall is no big deal—until they or someone they know falls hard and breaks a bone or hits their head. A slip and fall can be severe, racking up medical expenses for the resulting injuries. 

Businesses and rental properties have a legal obligation to keep people safe. Not taking the right precautions could cause customers or tenants to take a spill. If you fell in a public place, someone else may be responsible and could be held liable for damages. 

Steps to Take If You Slip and Fall

If you hit the floor after slipping or tripping, adrenaline (and possibly embarrassment) will likely have you jumping right back up—if you can. Before doing anything, it is wise to take a few moments to make sure you are okay. Even if you can get back on your feet, follow these steps after a slip-and-fall accident.

Report the incident to the business. Inform an employee or manager immediately of what happened. If you think you have a serious injury, ask them to call an ambulance.

Seek medical help. Even if an ambulance is not necessary, get checked by a medical professional. Go to the emergency room if you are in immediate pain, or make an appointment as soon as possible with your general practitioner. This will begin the documentation needed to file a claim for your injuries.

Gather evidence at the scene. Take pictures or a video of the scene of the slip and fall. Photo evidence of a broken floor tile or spilled items in the aisle will be useful in proving negligence. Note conditions that may have contributed to the accident such as snow, ice, or standing water. Collect any witnesses’ names and contact information. If you are too badly hurt to do any of this, ask someone to help.

Document everything. Keep all receipts and medical records. If you have bruises or cuts, take pictures of them. Document any damaged property such as a broken phone or torn clothing. An insurance company may try to blame someone for a slip and fall if they were wearing high heels or a long dress or pants that may have made them stumble. Set aside the clothing and shoes you were wearing as evidence.

File an official report. Some businesses have corporate forms that must be filled out to make an insurance claim. Be sure to keep a copy of this and all correspondence from the business.

Contact an attorney. Even if you are not sure if you have a case, contact a personal injury lawyer if you are hurt. Kane Personal Injury can evaluate if someone else was to blame—and financially liable—for your slip and fall.

Whose Fault Is a Slip and Fall Accident?

There is a legal concept called premises liability that holds negligent business owners liable for accidents on their property. Of course, not every slip and fall accident is an owner’s or employee’s fault. But don’t be quick to dismiss it as just clumsiness. If the circumstances include these four criteria, you could have a valid premises liability case:

  • The owner, manager, and employees have a “reasonable duty” to maintain the premises in a safe condition.
  • The owner, manager, or employee failed to do so.
  • An injury was the direct result of this failure.
  • The injury was responsible for measurable damage.

If, for example, an employee at Albertsons or Walmart does not mop up spilled soda and someone falls and breaks their wrist, the store owes the person compensation for their medical expenses. 

Proving fault, however, can be difficult. For example, say a shopper spills something slippery, and within seconds another shopper steps in it and falls. The store might not be liable because they had no time to learn of the spill and clean it up. Even placing a sign or barrier to warn shoppers will fulfill the duty to keep shoppers safe. On the other hand, if a worker was alerted and did nothing about it for an extended time, the store is more likely to be held responsible. 

Sometimes a case hinges on what is considered “reasonable duty.” Consider the owner of an apartment building. What is a “reasonable” amount of time for them to clear the entryway after a snowfall? What if there is just a dusting of snow, or it snows continually all night? This illustrates the importance of having a personal injury attorney with experience in premises liability cases on your side.

person falling in a slip and fall case
Image by baona from Getty Images by Canva.com

Things That Will Hurt a Slip and Fall Case 

Certain scenarios will hurt an injured person’s ability to get compensation because they are to blame rather than the business. People will be unable to collect damages if they:

  • were trespassing
  • ignored warning signs or barriers
  • acted inappropriately, for example running, horsing around, or climbing on shelves to reach something

Even if none of the above things happened, insurance companies may try to claim that a victim played a part in falling. New Mexico is a comparative negligence state. This means that if a victim was partially at fault, they would only receive a portion of the compensation. For example, if the business is found to be 90% to blame and the victim 10%, the victim will only receive 90% of the total settlement.

Again, an experienced attorney can help to prove the victim’s innocence. And if they are partly to blame, they can argue convincingly to reduce the percentage. 

Why Contact an Attorney?

Trying to get compensation for a slip-and-fall accident at a business often means going up against a large corporate insurance company and legal team. It is the insurance adjuster’s job to protect the company by paying out as little as possible on claims. It will be very difficult to win a case without an attorney. 

A personal injury attorney can help collect important evidence that the average person can not access, such as surveillance video. When it comes to determining a fair settlement amount, a lawyer will know how to calculate what is reasonable for future medical care as well as pain and suffering. 

By hiring an attorney, you have someone to handle all communication and correspondence with the insurance company so that you can concentrate on recovering. This is a valuable service because anything a victim says might be held against them. This means being very careful about what is said to workers where the slip and fall happened, or insurance representatives and lawyers for the business. Victims should also refrain from talking about the incident with friends, family, or on social media as it could affect the outcome of the case.

If you or a loved one has been hurt in a slip and fall accident, contact Kane Personal Injury. We will discuss your case and its merits, and get you the compensation you are due.