Slip and fall accidents can happen anytime. Fall accidents account for 5 percent of women’s work-related fatalities and 11 percent of men’s work-related deaths. Slip and fall accidents account for more than 1 million emergency room visits annually.
Slip and fall accidents also are the leading cause of workers’ compensation claims. Indeed, 85 percent of workers’ comp claims are linked to slipping and falling on slick floors. Slip and fall accidents represent the largest reason for lost time from work. Fall injuries include broken bones, soft tissue damage, neck injuries, and head and traumatic brain injuries.
Slip and fall accident victims need immediate medical care. They may also need rehabilitation. If they lose time from work because of a property owner’s negligence, they also may be entitled to compensation for their lost wages.
Here are the proper steps to take after a slip and fall accident to help ensure your medical needs are met, and you receive the compensation you’re due.
Seek Immediate Medical Attention for Fall Accidents
First, avoid any sudden movements that might exacerbate your injuries. If you have back pain or tingling in your arms or legs, stay where you are until emergency personnel arrives.
You should always seek medical attention after a slip and fall accident, even if you think you have only minor injuries. Many injuries are not immediately apparent to non-medical personnel yet require treatment. Your health is a top priority.
The medical professional will examine you thoroughly and provide records of your injuries. Having these records will support an injury claim should you need to seek compensation.
If you delay going to the doctor, insurance adjusters and attorneys may challenge whether your injuries were a result of the fall accident or whether they are as serious as you claim.
Keep All Medical Appointments
Follow your medical professional’s suggested course of treatment. The treatment will be essential to restoring your health as soon as possible.
Keeping appointments also is important for a successful personal injury claim. If you have been missing medical appointments or failing to do what your doctor suggests, insurers and businesses can argue that your injuries weren’t as serious as you claim.
Report the Accident
If you fall on someone else’s property, you should report the fall immediately to the property owner, store manager, or business owner. Ensure that they file a formal report in writing that conveys the facts and get a copy before you leave. The written report will be important in recovering compensation later.
Next, gather evidence and documentation yourself or have a friend or family member do so. Collect witness contact information and take as many pictures as you can of the area from multiple angles. Also, photograph any hazard that caused or contributed to the fall. A slip and fall hazard might be a wet floor, ice that the owner did not remove, or stairs without railings. If you fell in an area with a video camera, ask for a copy of the footage.
Also, write down what you were doing right before the accident occurred, and take detailed notes on how the accident happened, the time, date, and exact location. Place the clothes and shoes you wore at the time aside in a plastic bag. The documentation will help you prove liability and bolster any legal claim you might file.
Avoid making any comments about the fall, and, especially, do not accept blame. Avoid posting on social media or making any recorded statements. You also do not have to sign any form or accident report that property owners may fill out and bring to you. Indeed, you should avoid signing anything without a fall lawyer reading it first.
Contact a Fall Attorney
You’ll eventually file a claim with an insurance company. However, you’ll want to speak with legal counsel first. Speaking with an experienced attorney is critical because a property owner has premises liability. Also, most trip and fall accident attorneys offer a free consultation and will take the case on a contingency basis. If they take the case on a contingency basis, you’ll pay only when they gain you compensation.
Premises liability refers to the responsibility a property owner has to keep the area safe. In some cases, property owners can be held liable for injuries that occur on their property. State and local laws, however, vary on when an owner is liable for fall injuries. For example, only those who are on the property legally can successfully win a legal case in most states. Those who trespass on private property and slip and fall may not be able to recover compensation.
The property owner’s insurance company wants to resolve your claim for as little money as possible. The insurance adjuster may have a strategy for doing so, such as acting like a friend to get you to say something you shouldn’t or purposely making a lowball offer. A fall attorney knows these strategies and is the best person to advise you on how to report the accident while maintaining your right to a fair settlement. The fall lawyer also will understand how to negotiate with the adjuster. Most slip and fall cases are settled without a trial.
If the attorney is unable to negotiate a fair settlement with the insurance company, they will recommend that you file a legal action. A successful legal action can compensate you for medical bills, lost time from work, pain, and suffering. In the case of serious injuries, a successful legal claim can provide the money you need for extensive medical treatment.
Slip And Fall Accident Cases Are Complex
The law behind fall cases is complicated and differs by state. To win your accident claim, your fall attorney will need to prove three things based on your state codes.
- First, they’ll have to prove that the property owner was responsible for keeping you safe.
- Then, they must prove that the property owner’s negligence caused your injuries.
- Finally, they will have to prove that you suffered a financial loss because of the injuries, such as missing work or medical bills.
Some injuries also are difficult to diagnose and prove. Hip fractures and other broken bones are more obvious to diagnose. Mild traumatic brain injuries, many back injuries, and sprains and strains are challenging. Experienced fall attorneys know the documentation required to prove these injuries and recover compensation for your slip and fall accident.
Statutes of Limitations Vary for Slip and Fall Accident Cases
Each state also sets a time limit within which you must file your fall accident claim. The deadline, called the statute of limitations, varies by state. While some exceptions exist, generally, if you fail to file your claim within the statute of limitations, you can’t move forward with it. Statutes of limitations for an injury claim from a slip and fall accident range from one year to six years.
- Louisiana, Kentucky, and Tennessee have a one-year statute of limitations.
- States that give you two years to file your slip and fall claim are Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Nevada, New Jersey, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia.
- States with a three-year statute of limitations for a slip and fall accident claim are Arkansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin.
- States that allow four years for filing a slip and fall case are Florida, Nebraska, Utah, and Wyoming.
- Missouri allows you five years to file your fall case.
- States with a six-year statute of limitations for slip and fall cases are Maine, Minnesota, and North Dakota.
Contacting an experienced attorney is one of the most important actions to take after a slip and fall accident because they’ll ensure your claim filing is timely.
1-800Ask-Gary is a free, one-stop shop hotline to call if you or a family member has a slip and fall accident. 1-800Ask-Gary refers you to professionals in your area who can provide medical treatment to ensure you recover quickly. These professionals also know the medical records to provide to give your case the best possibility of success. 1-800Ask-Gary also refers you to experienced fall attorneys who can present your personal injury claim effectively.