Things to Do Immediately After a Slip and Fall Accident
Slip and fall accidents can be unexpected, scary, and may result in serious injury or unforeseen medical bills. When you have been injured in a slip and fall, most often you need time to heal, medical help recovering from the accident, and oftentimes financial assistance to handle any resulting medical bills. You might be left asking yourself what to do after a slip and fall accident to try to recoup some of the costs from being both out of work and in the hospital or doctor’s office.
You should always prioritize your health and wellbeing by seeking immediate medical care even if you feel fine right away. However, if you plan to seek compensation for the accident, it is important to take the appropriate steps to ensure the insurance company will not deny your claim or that your case will not get thrown out in court.
California’s Premises Liability Law
California premises liability laws generally require property owners within the state to provide reasonably safe conditions for those who live, work at and/or visit their properties. While these laws dictate that California property owners have a responsibility to maintain safe properties, the laws also require owners to warn people of potential hazards on their property to minimize the possibility of accidents and injuries.
Under California law, there are three scenarios in which a property owner or occupier can be held legally responsible for a dangerous property condition:
- The property owner or occupier directly caused the dangerous condition that led to your injury.
- The property owner or occupier was aware of the dangerous condition but failed to undertake reasonable efforts to fix it.
- The property owner or occupier should have been aware of the dangerous condition because a reasonable person would have discovered it and undertaken reasonable efforts to fix it.
This applies to both public and private properties. Regardless of where you were injured, under California law, the legal standards that apply are the same. However, a property owner’s or occupier’s legal responsibility will vary depending on why you were on the property at the time you were injured.
Depending on the purpose of your visit, you will either be labeled as: (i) an invitee, (ii) a licensee, or (iii) a trespasser.
Invitee (or Business Invitee) – An invitee is an individual that the landowner has given expressed or implied permission to enter the property. The landowner has an obligation to provide reasonably safe conditions for the invitee. Examples of invitees are friends, relatives, or neighbors. If you have been injured as an invitee in someone else’s property, then you have a right to file a premises liability claim.
Licensee – Similar to an invitee, a licensee is someone who also has expressed and implied permission to enter a property. The difference is that a licensee’s reason for entering a property is for his or her own purposes. An example of licensees is salesmen or other vendors.
Trespasser – A trespasser is someone who is unauthorized to enter the property of the landowner. In this scenario, an owner may only exercise ordinary care and does not owe fault to a trespasser who was injured in his or her property. However, children are an exception to this rule and property owners must ensure that an estate is safeguarded from potential hazards to children.
What to Do Immediately After a Slip and Fall Accident Occurs
What you do in the immediate aftermath of a slip and fall accident, both at the scene and shortly after you have received medical attention, can have a significant impact on an insurance claim or lawsuit. Below is a checklist to help you understand the steps you should take after a slip and fall accident:
- Seek Medical Treatment
One of the first steps after a slip and fall injury is to seek medical treatment. If you are severely injured, you may need to contact 911 and be transported to the emergency room from the accident scene. If you are not severely injured, you should still see a doctor right away. You could have internal injuries that are not immediately visible. It is important to see a doctor so that your injuries can be properly documented. Those medical records will be important pieces of evidence should you decide to seek compensation for your injuries.
- Report the Accident
Reporting the slip and fall is crucial. Regardless of whether the slip, trip and fall accident happened in a store, on a sidewalk or at a friend’s house, be sure to report it to the owner, manager or landlord. It is vital that you get the details of the incident in writing. Ask the owner, manager or landlord to make a written report and request a copy before you leave.
You need to report the incident immediately to preserve your right to bring a claim. If you leave the premises and do not advise someone, they will use that against you during the claims process.
If your fall occurred on public property, you might not be able to make a report until you get home and can call the applicable agency. You will want to ask for something in writing that details your claim. Do not simply tell an employee that you fell and then leave. You need to ensure someone creates a trackable report.
- Collect as Much Evidence as Physically Possible
As with any accident, you will want to gather as much evidence as you can. If you are still conscious and can communicate and move safely, it is important to take action. If possible, take photographs and videos of not only your injuries, but also the environment in which you fell.
Take note of what you were doing before the accident, as well as whether or not you were carrying anything in your hands or were distracted in any way. It is important to be truthful here: remember that, especially when it comes to commercial properties, businesses can and will review security footage. Even set aside the clothing and shoes you had on during the fall for a later date. Finally, be certain that you have collected the names, statements, and contact information of anyone who witnessed your slip and fall.
- Watch Your Communication with the Insurance Company
If you receive contact from the property owner’s insurance company, be very cautious of what you say. You should not agree to give a recorded statement without legal representation. The insurance company is looking for you to say something they can use against you in the claims process. Insurance companies vigorously defend against slip and fall claims, so you should be prepared for the possibility that they might deny your claim.
- Call an Attorney
Every slip, trip and fall is different, making your personal injury claim difficult to navigate on your own. An experienced slip and fall accident attorney with Duque Law Group can review your case and determine if the property owner is at fault and what compensation you are entitled to.
Our law firm can handle complex or confidential information in your case. For instance, we can negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf or request evidence from the property manager that you might be unable to get on your own.
Should You Speak with an Attorney?
Our legal team at Duque Law Group is comprised of award-winning and nationally recognized trial lawyers who collaborate with nurses, doctors and medical experts regularly. Though we understand the nature of injuries, we are not physicians, and always encourage victims to seek treatment as soon after an accident as possible, and to follow up and heed their doctors’ advice.
Call us now at 1-877-241-9554 to learn more about your options. A free consultation is just a phone call away.