While you could pursue a claim on your own, proceedings are notoriously unpredictable and difficult to navigate.
People slip, trip, and fall every day, but most of these missteps are the result of human error or sheer clumsiness. However, in some cases, these accidents are caused by negligent property owners who failed to rid their premises of dangerous hazards. As such, while you should expect to feel safe when you step onto someone else’s property, there’s never a guarantee that they’ve taken the steps necessary to make sure you aren’t hurt.
If you believe you were injured because of the negligent actions of a property owner, you may be able to file a personal injury claim to recover compensation for the resulting losses. However, before initiating proceedings, it’s important to determine whether your claim has the makings of a convincing case.
There are three important aspects to any slip and fall claim: Liability, causation, and damages. For a property owner to be found liable, you must present evidence that they knew or, through exercising reasonable care, should’ve known of a hazardous condition on the property and failed to protect against, repair, or provide adequate warning of the condition. Additionally, you will need to show that you suffered damages, and that your injuries were caused by the slip and fall incident in question.
According to personal injury lawyer Jarrett DeLuca of Viñas & DeLuca in Miami, “The strength of your case will depend on the strength of the evidence you’ve gathered. But there are other factors that could either bolster or weaken your claim.”
With that in mind, let’s explore a few common signs that you might have a strong slip and fall claim:
You Have Access to Eyewitnesses
If anyone else saw you fall, their deposition or testimony could be invaluable to your case. After all, they may be able to corroborate your version of events or provide additional context. For instance, someone may have reported the hazard weeks before you fell, giving you compelling proof that the property owner was negligent.
Your attorney may also want to consult with expert witnesses to help prove aspects of your case. For example, an accident reconstruction expert specializing in slip and falls may be able to use evidence such as photographs and surveillance camera footage to determine what happened.
You Took Photos of the Accident Scene
Whether you fell because of a defective hand railing, slipped on wet floors, or tripped over janitorial equipment, you should make sure to document the hazard. “Your smartphone is a powerful tool when it comes to preserving evidence,” says Katrina S. Brown, a personal injury attorney at Brown Bass & Jeter in Mississippi. “After you leave the accident scene, it’s likely that the property owner will clear the hazard, so any images you managed to capture could be invaluable to the success of your personal injury claim.”
If you noticed surveillance cameras near the area where you fell, you should also take steps to obtain this footage as such recordings are routinely erased. The property owner may refuse to hand over these files, but a skilled personal injury attorney might be able to apply the necessary legal pressure to force them to release the recordings.
You Scheduled a Comprehensive Medical Assessment
“Scheduling a doctor’s appointment as soon as possible after the accident is an important step you should never skip,” says Jason Maier, a founding partner at Maier Gutierrez in Las Vegas. “It’s not only about taking care of your health; foregoing a medical assessment could lead to disputes during proceedings that might make it difficult for you to recover compensation.”
For instance, opposing parties might assert that you failed in your duty to take reasonable measures to mitigate damages, or that your injuries stem from a separate incident as the date of your doctor’s appointment doesn’t correspond with the day of the accident. Typically, it’s best to seek treatment immediately after leaving the accident scene.
You Stayed Away from Social Media
After a serious fall, you might want to seek support, comfort, and guidance from family and friends on social media. However, discussing any aspect of the accident, your injuries, or pending claim online could open the door to disputes as the opposing party’s insurer may be monitoring your online activity for any posts that could be used as evidence to challenge your credibility.
For instance, pictures of you exercising just a few days after the fall could be used to assert that your injuries aren’t as serious as you are claiming, or that you ignored your healthcare provider’s instructions to rest. Most attorneys will probably advise you to deactivate your social media profiles for the duration of proceedings. However, if this isn’t possible, you should at least update your privacy settings to prevent the insurance company from digging through your posts.
Should I Hire an Attorney to Assist with My Slip and Fall Claim?
While you could pursue a claim on your own, proceedings are notoriously unpredictable and difficult to navigate. As such, you might make serious mistakes that will ultimately cost you a fair settlement. Filing a claim can also be time-consuming, taking attention away from your recovery.
Not only can an attorney help guide you through the weeks ahead, but he or she can also help investigate the accident, gather evidence to support your claim, and provide tenacious representation at every stage. Ultimately, an attorney can help level the playing field—especially if you’re going up against a property owner who likely has considerable resources at their disposal. A skilled slip and fall lawyer’s goal will be to both help you achieve a favorable outcome and to ensure that proceedings are as simple and stress-free as possible for you and your family.