Just about everyone has slipped and fallen at some point. Most fall accidents cause only no or only minor injuries and occur when we fail to pay attention. However, sometimes a slip and fall accident happens because of the negligence of others. This type of accident sometimes causes serious injuries, such as broken bones or head and back injuries. The Centers for Disease Control says about 20 percent of falls result in serious injuries.
When you sustain serious injuries in a slip and fall accident through no fault of your own, you may be entitled to compensation from the at fault party or their insurance company. Compensation could include reimbursement for lost wages, medical expenses, pain, and suffering. However, to ensure you receive the maximum compensation from a fall injury, you’ll need to take the correct steps after the accident.
Here are tips on how to navigate an insurance claim after a slip and fall accident.
Gather Evidence Immediately After the Fall Accident
First, remain calm. Then, you or a relative should gather information and evidence immediately after the slip and fall accident. Details will be more precise in your mind and the minds of witnesses. Also, documenting the conditions of the premises immediately after the fall can help your personal injury claim.
Take as many pictures of the site as you can. Be sure to photograph the dangerous condition that led to the fall. These conditions might include the following:
- Wet floors
- Cracked pavement
- Poor lighting
- Debris on the floor
- Damaged stairs or missing handrails
- Exposed wiring
- Ice or snow
Talk to any witnesses before they leave the scene. Then, record the name and telephone number of each one for later use. Witnesses can be crucial in a fall claim.
Put the shoes and clothing you were wearing at the time of the accident into a plastic bag and keep them in a safe place. Having the shoes and clothing available can help you negate an insurance company’s claims that your clothes caused you to slip and fall.
Report The Fall Accident to the Responsible Party
You should report the accident to the property owner or property manager. If the accident is on public property, notify the jurisdiction that owns the property.
If you fail to report the accident or wait too long to do so, the insurance adjuster or a jury is more likely to question whether you really sustained fall injuries. You should report the incident immediately after the fall occurred. You should also request that the property owner create a written accident report and get a copy when you leave.
When you report the injury, avoid making any statements to the other party. You don’t want anything to say to be interpreted as indicating you did anything to contribute to the accident.
Some companies will request that you fill out an accident report. If you feel well enough, you can complete it, but neither the property owner nor their insurance company can require you to do so. You should politely refuse if you don’t want to fill out the report.
If you do fill out the report, accurately explain how you fell, but do not add commentary. For example, avoid saying, “I tripped over the uneven sidewalk because I wasn’t paying attention.”
Hire an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney
Slip and fall accident cases can be complex. Insurance companies almost always try to offer victims less than a fair settlement. Property owners and insurance companies also often dispute fall claims to avoid paying fair compensation. To win your fall case, you’ll have to prove that the property owner failed to act reasonably and that failure to act was the reason the accident occurred. You’ll also have to prove that you suffered injuries and other economic damages due to the fall.
A fall accident lawyer is an expert in your state’s laws on slip and fall accidents. They also are experts at advocating on behalf of fall victims who have sustained injuries. They can advise you on your legal rights, how to seek compensation, and what to say and do to avoid damaging your case. Slip and fall accident victims who hire an experienced attorney tend to recover more money than those who don’t.
Like any personal injury attorney, a slip and fall lawyer typically offers a free consultation. During that time, you’ll tell your attorney how you fell and show them the evidence you’ve collected and your medical records. The attorney will advise you about your odds of recovering compensation for your slip and fall claim.
What the Attorney Will Do
If you and your attorney decide to pursue your slip and fall case, the attorney will represent you with the negligent party’s insurance company and seek a fair settlement offer. If the attorney cannot obtain fair compensation through negotiations with the insurance company, they will likely file a lawsuit. Although most personal injury cases settle outside of court, you may want to be sure you hire an attorney with litigation experience from the beginning, just in case a trial is necessary.
Seek Immediate Medical Attention
You should seek medical attention immediately after any fall accident, even if you’re not sure you suffered injuries. Sometimes injuries aren’t easy for laypeople to detect, so consulting a professional is vital for your health. Medical records are also essential to an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit. Also, insurance adjusters and juries question the seriousness of your injuries if you fail to see a doctor for several days after the slip and fall accident.
Be sure to follow your doctor’s recommendations for treatment and keep any future medical appointments until you are fully recovered. If you fail to follow up, you give the insurance company an excuse to avoid giving you a fair settlement. Your continued health may also depend upon your following the treatment plan.
Avoid Talking To Others or the Other Party’s Insurance Company
Avoid the temptation to talk about your slip and fall accident or the injuries sustained on social media or with any of your friends. You should only discuss the accident with your doctor and an experienced personal injury attorney. You should specifically avoid providing a recorded statement to the other party’s insurance company. The law does not require this; generally, providing an account is not in your best interest. Let your attorney communicate with the insurance company.
Also, avoid making follow-up comments to the property owner after you’ve reported the slip and fall accident. If these discussions are necessary, leave them to your personal injury attorneys.
Set Yourself Up for Success After Your Fall Injury
Some injuries from slip and fall accidents require considerable medical treatment to heal. You may have many medical appointments, so your medical bills will be significant. You’ll also likely miss work, resulting in lost wages. However, insurance adjusters operate in the best interests of insurance companies and may issue a lowball offer in slip and fall cases.
You can set yourself up to receive a fair settlement offer if you stay calm at the scene and follow the steps outlined. However, you should seek medical attention, gather evidence, and notify the owner immediately after your slip and fall accident.
Find Experienced Professionals
1-800Ask-Gary is a one-stop hotline that provides referrals to qualified medical professionals and experienced slip and fall accident attorneys. These professionals can help ensure the at fault party’s insurance company treats you fairly. 1-800Ask-Gary can refer you to licensed slip and fall accident professionals in Florida, Minnesota, and New Mexico.