In our practice, we speak with many individuals who have been injured because they slipped and fell or tripped and fell on someone else’s property. These types of cases, called premises liability cases, occur frequently and many times result in serious injuries. Premises liability cases can be difficult to prove if certain steps are not taken in a timely manner or if the proper evidence is not obtained to be able to satisfy the burden of proof in an injury case. The purpose of this article is to outline five basic steps that must be taken following a fall in order to pursue a claim against the property owner or homeowner for injuries sustained.
When a fall has occurred on either public property or a private residence, it is important to make someone aware that a fall occurred and there were injuries. If the fall occurs at a store or restaurant, you should speak with a manager and ask that they document the fall by filling out an incident report. Proper documentation in premises liability cases is crucial and giving notice of the fall itself is something that absolutely must be done in a timely manner, preferably immediately after it occurs. If you wait too long to give notice, not only can important evidence be lost, but it also begins to look rather suspect. The thought would be something like, “If this person really was injured this badly on my property, why did they wait so long to say anything about it?” Notice not given immediately after the fall calls into question many things, including the believability of the person who fell and whether the fall actually did occur where and when he or she claims it did. To avoid these problems, give notice right away and insist that a written incident report is completed.
2. Take Photos
In this day and age, most of us carry our cell phones with us everywhere we go. Cell phones are useful for gathering the initial photographic evidence of the area where the fall occurred. When an injury has occurred on someone else’s property, the hazard that caused the fall must be documented with photographs. If photos are not taken immediately, there is a high likelihood that the evidence will be lost. For example, ice could melt, a spill could be cleaned up or the area where the fall occurred could be otherwise manipulated such that it no longer constitutes a hazard before photos are obtained. The saying “pictures are worth a thousand words” rings true in premises liability cases. It is much more difficult for a property owner or their insurance company to refute concrete pictorial evidence than someone’s verbal recollection of what happened or what caused their fall. Taking a few photographs of what caused the fall will prove to be extremely helpful to an injured victim down the road.
3. Take Contact Information for Any Witnesses to the Fall
If any witnesses were around at the time of the fall, it is important to take down their contact information. Given the difficulty in proving liability on a property owner in a slip or trip and fall case, the more important it becomes to have independent witnesses on your side that can substantiate your version of facts. Even if the witness did not actually observe the fall itself, they can still talk about the general condition of the property, which is helpful in establishing that the property owner did not maintain the property in a safe manner. Unless you know a witness personally, you must obtain any witness contact information right away, or you have likely lost the opportunity to do so.
4. Go to The Doctor
If you were injured in a fall, it is important to seek medical care immediately. Going to the Emergency Room or Urgent Care is best as you will receive care immediately and not have to wait for an appointment with your family doctor. Many injuries caused by a fall are serious, and it is important that you get to a doctor right away. Be truthful with the doctor when asked about what caused your injuries. The more information that medical professionals have, the better they are able to diagnose and treat your injuries.
5. Follow Your Doctor’s Instructions
After your initial visit with the doctor following a fall, you will receive follow up instructions. Depending on the extent of the injuries, a doctor may have recommended a follow up in three to five days, or the doctor may have referred you to a specialist if the injury was more severe. In these types of cases, it is vital that an injured person follow their doctor’s instructions. Do not let large amounts of time pass without going back to the doctor. Make your well-being a priority and be diligent in getting the treatment that you need to fully recover from your injuries.
If you have been injured due to negligence on someone else’s property, time is of the essence. There are many things that need to be done in a short amount of time in order to preserve an injury claim. Evidence must be preserved, investigations need to commence and statements must be taken from witnesses before their memories fade. Groth Law Firm takes this burden off of their clients’ shoulders and makes sure that the proper steps are being taken to build their case from start to finish.
If you are injured, you need a strong legal team on your side to make sure that the proper steps are taken to ensure that your rights are protected. The Groth Law Firm wants its clients to focus on what is most important, and that is getting the treatment they need to recover from their injuries. Contact the Groth Law Firm if you were injured by negligence on someone else’s property. The Groth Law Firm offers free consultations and is available seven days per week to speak with injured victims, answer their questions and help them in their journey of recovering from their injuries.