What to Do If You’ve Slipped or Fallen
It’s natural when you suffer a slip-and-fall injury in a business, hotel, parking lot, or someone’s home, to be shocked and disoriented immediately following your accident. If you’re seriously injured, you’re probably also in a lot of pain, which isn’t conducive to thinking clearly. It’s important, however, to try to retain some presence of mind so that your rights to a possible claim are protected. A lawsuit may not be at the top of your mind when you’re first injured, but it may be a useful consideration later when medical bills start rolling in and you’re forced to take time away from work to recover.
Here are some tips for things to try to do in the aftermath of a slip-and-fall accident.
Seek Medical Care
When you’re injured by slipping, tripping, or falling on someone’s premises, the first thing you should do is get treatment for your injuries, whether that’s first aid or calling an ambulance and being taken to an emergency room. Your injuries may be serious, and delaying treatment could pose a significant risk to you if you’re bleeding or have a head injury.
It’s important that you comply with any discharge or follow-up instructions that you’re given after your initial medical treatment. If you don’t follow the doctor’s instructions, you could prevent your injury from healing properly. Not only does that carry the potential to cause you more medical problems down the road, but it also could affect your ability to make a claim for compensation against the property owner or occupier whose negligence caused your injuries.
Report Your Injury
Once you’ve gotten medical attention, you should notify the property owner or occupier about your injury as soon as is possible. Timely notice of your injuries helps preserve your ability to make a claim if negligence was involved in causing your injuries. Failing to give timely notice could be a valid cause for an insurance company to deny a claim.
Document Your Injury
Even if you think you might not make a claim for compensation, it’s still a good idea to document the circumstances of your slip-and-fall accident. In the course of gathering evidence, you may discover information that wasn’t apparent to you at the time of your accident and you may realize that negligence was involved.
- Take Notes — You should jot down everything you can remember about your accident while your recollection is fresh. Where did it happen? Was it inside or outside? What was the lighting like? What time of day was it? Who was there? What did you slip or trip on? Was there any warning about the condition that caused you to slip or trip? Did you see the hazard before you slipped or tripped? Any piece of information you can think of might help your claim later on.
- Take Photos — If you or someone with you is capable of taking photos at the time of your accident, you should take pictures as soon as is possible before the unsafe condition that caused your injuries is removed or repaired. You’ll want to get pictures that show the hazard, whether any warning was posted, the lighting conditions, or any other conditions that contributed to your accident.
- Talk to Witnesses — You’ll want to get the names, addresses, telephone numbers, and email addresses of anyone who was present or might have witnessed your accident. Ask them what they saw or heard to determine if their version of the story fits your recollection.
Be Cautious When Discussing Your Accident
You have an obligation to provide notice of your injuries to the property owner or occupier, but when making the report, or when an insurance company contacts you later, it’s best to stick to the facts and to refrain from offering any opinions or commentary on what happened. Try to stay calm and avoid becoming emotional. Limit the conversation as much as is possible. It’s also a good idea to talk to a personal injury lawyer before talking to the insurance company to make sure that all of your rights are preserved. Once you hire a lawyer, your lawyer can be your representative in any dealings with the insurance company.
Don’t Cash a Check or Sign a Release
The property owner or insurance company may send you a check and want you to sign a release that waives any further claims. This may seem like a good thing to you, but chances are the check doesn’t cover your full damages. You may need ongoing medical care that will come out of your own pocket once you’ve signed a release and cashed a settlement check. It’s a good idea to talk to a lawyer before signing anything to make sure you’re getting a full and fair settlement.
Talk to a Lawyer
There are many ways that an experienced Chicago premises liability attorney can help you after you’ve suffered a slip-and-fall injury. As noted above, a lawyer can represent you in discussions or negotiations with the insurance company for the property owner or occupier and make sure you get the best possible settlement of your claim. If the insurance company denies your claim or refuses to settle, a lawyer can help you decide if you want to take the next step and file a premises liability lawsuit. Your personal injury lawyer then can file and try the case in court.