Before it happens to you, a trip- or slip-and-fall accident might not seem like a life-shattering event. But the reality is that these accidents can result in serious injuries, and people are often in such pain and confusion after a fall that they don't know what to do.
If you are ever injured due to a fall in a store or other pubic place -- and especially if the fall is due to property owner negligence -- be sure to take these five important steps.
1. Notify the store manager or property owner. This starts a record of the accident. If you don't alert the manager or owner, you will have a more difficult time proving the circumstances of the fall.
2. Preserve evidence, including your shoes, to show the circumstances that led to the accident. "Why the shoes?" you may ask. To reduce or deny payouts to accident victims, insurance company lawyers often claim that people trip on their own shoes. It is therefore recommended that you preserve your shoes and don't wear them again until your case is finished. Additionally, take pictures of the dangerous conditions. Whether it's a pothole in a parking lot; an uneven sidewalk; an unclear aisle in a store; or some other unmarked hazard -- evidence of the dangerous property condition can bolster your case for compensation.
3. Get medical treatment. Not only should you do this for your own health and well-being; getting the treatment you need documents your injury and helps to prove the extent to which your injury has affected your life. If you don't get medical treatment, you basically don't have a premises liability claim. And remember, a successful claim can cover the cost of medical care, so don't let money concerns prevent you from getting the diagnosis and treatment you need.
4. Contact a personal injury attorney with experience in premises liability claims. The truth is that premises liability claims can be difficult to prove, and you need an experienced lawyer on your side to be successful and obtain the compensation you need. Premises liability claims are largely based on whether the property owner knew about or should have known about the dangerous property condition. In other words, it becomes necessary to prove what someone knew or should have known, and that can be tricky. As soon as possible after your accident, talk to a lawyer with experience in these matters.
5. Follow your doctor's orders. Again, this is important for your own health, but also understand that if you stop getting treatment or doing what your doctor says to do, the insurance company may claim that your injury isn't as bad as it is. And that could result in reduced or denied compensation to you.
For more on these matters, please see our overview of sidewalk and parking lot accidents.