What to do After a Slip and Fall Accident
It is normal to slip and fall while walking. Such accidents can be fatal. If you slip and fall due to someone’s negligence to keep the premises safe, then you can sue for damages. While it can be hard to prove your innocence, hiring an experienced New York slip and fall injury lawyer can be of great help.
Slip and fall cases account for 12 percent of emergencies in the US. Out of these, 20-30 percent of victims sustain serious injuries. The average medical bill for injuries related to slip and fall accidents is estimated to be $33,000, accounting for $34 billion in medical bills annually. This is what makes it necessary to seek compensation for injuries and losses occasioned by poor property maintenance.
Below are the 7 steps to follow after a slip and fall in New York.
1. Get Photos of The Scene
Spills on the floor, broken tile, or black ice are among the common causes of fatal falls in stores. You need photographs from different angles showing how you fell, the condition of the floor and the environment at the time of your accident, and bleeding or visible injuries sustained. These will help you prove your case should you choose to file a personal injury claim.
While it is understandable to seek medical attention first, the store or building owner could quickly fix the issue and leave you with no case to answer. Ice melts, and spills can be mopped away. This will leave you with no evidence.
If you have someone walking with you, ask them to help take photos of the location. You could even ask a stranger to help you take photos. See if there is a CCTV in the building that your attorney could use to demonstrate the hazard in court. However, resist the urge to explain to anybody how the accident happened or blaming the property owner.
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2. Seek Immediate Medical Help
Slip and fall accidents do result in serious injuries. These injuries include concussions, sprained ankles and wrists, knee damage, head injuries, soft tissue injuries, muscle strains, dislocated shoulder, broken bones, spine and nerve damage, brain injury, and bruises.
You do not need to see a physical sign of injury to seek medical help after a slip and fall injury. If you are feeling ok, walk to the nearest health center for examinations and treatment. If you have serious signs of injury, wait for emergency medical help. Remember to explain to the doctors how the slip and fall accident occurred, and what kind of pain you experienced after the fall.
Seeking immediate medical help is very useful when seeking compensation. It shows insurers that your injuries were serious enough to send you to the hospital. The doctor’s report will validate your claim, so ensure to be accurate with details of the accident.
3. Document All Details of The Accident
Once you are stable enough, document everything about the accident. Write down the injuries you experienced after falling, the doctor’s findings, and anything else you might have lost during the incident. Sometimes, people sue over the other losses incurred during the fall. For instance, you could have been carrying an expensive souvenir that broke down as a result of the fall. Your expensive watch or phone could also have been damaged.
Damages are not limited to injuries, but also other losses incurred. Remember to include all expenses that you incur during treatment such as transportation money to see the doctor, treatment costs, and any other related costs. In addition, you need to write down details of anybody who witnessed the fall. It could be a worker in the building, a manager, a client at the store, a friend or a stranger. You need to have details of their names, address, and contacts.
4. Identify The Cause of The Accident
Slip and fall accidents are common in winter. Weather conditions such as rain, snow, and ice account for the majority of slips.
However, other factors cause this type of accident for which the property owner is liable. Here are the common places culprits of slip and fall accidents in New York:
- Parking lot accidents are often caused by poor lighting.
- Workplace accidents are attributed to narrow pathways, slippery floors, and dangerous sites.
- Sidewalk accidents are often caused by poor maintenance issues such as potholes, and weather conditions such as snow, and ice.
- In hotels and recreational centers, slip and fall accidents are often caused by wet floors or loose carpets.
- In public spaces such as swimming pools, wet floors are the main cause of fatal falls.
- In bars and restaurants, spills and slippery floors are responsible for most accidental falls.
- Retail stores including grocery stores have spills, leaks from the freezer, wet floors, and sometimes loose floorboards that cause most accidents.
- Structural issues such as poor construction and missing or broken handrails are common causes of staircase-related slips. In addition, poorly maintained and wet stairs are to blame.
However, you do not automatically qualify for compensation because you fell and injured yourself in a store, walkway, parking lot, public space, business premise, office, or home.
Slip and fall lawsuits in New York are very tricky. You must prove that the fall is the premises’ liability and not your own carelessness. Before processing a settlement in a slip and fall claim, an insurance adjuster will often ask questions such as:
- Were you authorized to be there?
- Were you walking carelessly?
- Did your shoes make you trip and fall?
- Was there a warning sign or was the area cordoned off?
- Was the accident a result of the property owner or manager’s negligence?
- Was the accident caused by poor housekeeping on the side of the property owner?
- Did someone witness the accident?
Ensure that you can prove the property owner’s negligence and your own innocence before opening a lawsuit. If you are not sure, hire a personal accident lawyer for help.
5. Inform The Property Owner & Concerned Parties
You need to report your accident to the property owner, landlord, or manager as soon as possible. Most stores and business premises have procedures for handling slip and fall accidents and will require you to file an incident report.
You may not be able to fill the form immediately, but try to notify the concerned parties within 24 hours. Your report needs to explain the circumstances surrounding the fall in case you sustained injuries, and what caused the fall. Ask them to give you a copy of the report. If you are not able to file the report, ask an injury lawyer to help you.
If liability is on the government of New York, you need to serve them notice within 90days. All other lawsuits should be opened within 3 years. A good law firm will do all this on your behalf.
During this time, avoid talking about the case or posting it on social media. If the insurance company calls for a recorded statement, do not give them. It may work against you during settlement.
6. Contact Witnesses
Who was present when the accident happened? It could be a client at the store, employees, friends, relatives, managers, or anybody else present at the time of the accident. If you took their details, you need to contact them as soon as possible.
Witnesses are likely to remember details of the incident clearly if you call them immediately. They may be keeping a record of photos or circumstances surrounding the slip accident. In addition, someone could know about previous slip accidents within the premises. Ask them what they remember and write it down.
Remember, you are not the only one interested in witness testimony. The insurance company covering the premises is also interested in maintaining their costs down by reducing the number of claim settlements processed. Insurance adjusters may corrupt your witnesses into giving false testimony so as to absolve the property owner of the fault and shift responsibility to the victims. Make sure you are the first to reach out to them.
If nobody witnessed the accident, you can ask the first responders who took you to the hospital about your condition at that time. It may help prove that you sustained injuries or were experiencing a lot of pain and suffering.
7. Lawyer Up
You have gone for medical care and done all the preliminary work. You have even contacted witnesses to hear their testimonies, collected all photographic evidence from the scene, and filled incident reports with the premise owners. What’s now left is for you to engage lawyers after sustaining the injuries. Some lawyers offer a free consultation prior to filing a lawsuit. You will benefit from their legal representation and advice.
Most slip and fall accident cases never go to trial, but you need a good lawyer to negotiate a settlement for you. While it is ok to negotiate for a settlement with the insurance adjuster, you will always get the shortest end of the stick. That’s not to mention trip and fall accidents are not easy to prove.
As you will learn from your case, the law can be very evasive when dealing with such lawsuits. Jurors rely on their own judgment when determining who was at fault, and how much compensation the owner should give to the victim. Only the best attorneys can help you get the compensation you deserve.
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Fast Track Your Slip and Fall Case in New York
Spektor Law has helped many slip and fall victims get fair settlements. Call us now on 1 (888) 797-7735 to schedule a consultation with our personal injury lawyer in New York. We have experience dealing with property owners and can help you or your loved one file a lawsuit and pursue damages following a fall injury.