Trips and slips on dangerous property unfortunately happen year-round in Pennsylvania, but the risk is especially high during the winter months.
Property owners are obligated to address known hazards like pot holes, inadequate lighting, faulty stairways and ice and snow buildup. If you suffer a slip-and-fall injury due to a property owner's negligence, here are five important steps to take after the accident.
1. Notify the store manager or property owner.
In other words, don't leave the scene without making the hazard and your injury known to the property owner or store manager. This is important not only for public safety; it's also important for your personal injury claim, which may be your best option for getting your medical bills and other damages covered.
2. Preserve evidence.
If you can, document the property conditions. Take pictures and (it may sound strange) preserve your shoes. In many cases, the lawyers for the property owner's insurance company will argue that the injury victim tripped on his or her own shoes, or that the shoes were otherwise the cause of the accident. By taking pictures, getting witness statements and preserving your shoes (perhaps by putting them in a plastic bag), you can document the circumstances of the accident. A personal injury lawyer may also obtain evidence such as surveillance video to help bolster your case.
3. Get appropriate medical treatment.
This is important for your health, but it's also important because getting medical treatment is crucial to documenting your injury. If you don't get medical treatment, you likely won't have much for the basis of a personal injury claim.
4. Contact a personal injury attorney.
The sooner you get a lawyer involved, the sooner he or she can start protecting your rights and building a strong claim on your behalf. A personal injury attorney can handle the legal matters while you focus on getting better.
5. Follow your doctor's orders.
Try not to miss medical appointments, and be sure to follow your doctor's orders. Not following the doctor's orders could hurt your personal injury case, as the insurance company might claim that you stopped treatment because your injury isn't really that bad -- when in fact it is. Remember, a successful personal injury claim can lead to compensation for medical treatment, lost income, reduced earning capacity and other damages resulting from a slip-and-fall injury.