What to Do After a Slip and Fall Accident
If you’ve had a slip and fall accident due to a dangerous condition on someone else’s property, you may have the right to pursue compensation from the property or business owner. However, succeeding in a slip and fall claim will require thorough preparation. Knowing what to do after a slip and fall accident can help you recover from your injuries and help you build a solid claim against a property/business owner or the insurance company. After a slip and fall, some essential steps include seeking medical treatment, gathering evidence from the accident scene, documenting your injuries and losses, and filing insurance claims and lawsuits against liable parties.
Why Taking Immediate Action After a Slip & Fall Matters
After slipping and falling on someone else’s premises, you can protect your interests by taking prompt action. You should seek medical treatment immediately. Acting quickly after a slip and fall accident has several critical benefits, including:
- Reducing your recovery period and improving your prognosis, as prompt medical attention and treatment can help you avoid aggravating injuries you suffer in a slip and fall accident
- Connecting your injuries with the slip and fall accident, in case the property/business owner or insurance company argues that your injuries resulted from a preexisting injury or degenerative condition instead of the fall
- Ensuring you have access to all available evidence since delaying an investigation can lead to evidence becoming destroyed or lost or witnesses’ memories fading
- Letting you file your legal claims before applicable filing deadlines
Immediate Actions Post-Accident
A slip and fall accident victim can take steps immediately following a fall to protect their rights and options for recovering compensation. Necessary actions after a slip and fall include reporting the accident to the property or business owner/manager, documenting the accident scene, and seeking medical attention to get checked for injuries you may have suffered.
Reporting the Accident to Property Owners/Managers
After falling on someone else’s property, you should notify the property owner or business immediately. When you slip and fall in a commercial establishment, find a manager and report your fall. Businesses usually prepare an accident or incident report after a visitor suffers a slip and fall to document the accident for insurance and legal purposes. You can ask for a copy of any accident or incident reports the property or business manager drafts for their employer.
When reporting a slip and fall to a property or business owner, you should stick to the facts of the accident as you remember them. Do not embellish or make assumptions, such as assuming that you slipped on a puddle if you did not see or feel water or other liquids on the floor. In addition, you should refrain from being hostile or accusatory toward the property or business owner, even if you feel angry that you fell due to a hazardous condition on the premises. Immediately trying to blame the property or business owner for the accident may hurt your credibility and lead to questions about your motivations.
Seeking Medical Attention
After you’ve notified the property or business owner about your fall, you should seek prompt medical attention to get checked for injuries you may have sustained. If you or the property or business owner do not call 911 immediately after your fall, you should either go to an emergency room or urgent care clinic or schedule an appointment with your primary care physician, even if you don’t feel pain or other symptoms of injury. Many slip and fall injuries can take several days before manifesting symptoms. A doctor or other healthcare professional can conduct a physical examination and take X-rays/MRIs to identify injuries you sustained in the slip and fall accident. Obtaining a prompt diagnosis will also help connect your injuries to the accident. If you wait weeks or months to seek medical attention, the property owner, business owner, or insurance company might argue that the slip and fall accident didn’t cause your injuries; rather, they resulted from a subsequent trauma, a preexisting injury, or a degenerative condition.
Documenting the Scene and Injuries
You can begin preparing your slip and fall accident claim by documenting the accident scene, ideally immediately after your fall. If you can safely move after suffering a slip and fall, use your cell phone to take photos or videos of crucial details of the accident scene, such as:
- The hazard that caused you to fall, such as a puddle of liquid, a patch of ice, wires or cords stretching across the ground, etc.
- Any visual obstructions that blocked you from seeing the hazard
- Lighting conditions
- Weather conditions
- The presence or lack of warning signs
- Any visible injuries you sustained
Look around the accident scene for any surveillance cameras that might have recorded your fall or other critical details, such as who or what created the hazard that caused you to fall and how long the hazard existed before your fall. Ask the property owner, business owner, or manager to preserve copies of any relevant surveillance footage.
Remember to preserve or photograph your clothing and footwear in case they become an issue in your slip and fall claim. For instance, the property owner, business owner, or insurance company may argue that your clothing or footwear caused you to fall or contributed to your slipping and falling.
Gathering Witness Information
After a slip and fall accident, look around to see if anyone else might have seen you fall. Remember to get contact information for any eyewitnesses. Use your phone to record brief statements from any eyewitnesses in case you cannot contact them later or the witness’s memories of the accident fade.
Understanding Premises Liability
Understanding Texas’s premises liability laws can help you determine whether you have a viable legal claim against the owner of the business or property where you slipped and fell. Under premises liability law, a property or business owner owes a duty of care to lawful visitors. The exact nature of this duty of care depends on the visitor’s legal status. For instance, a property owner or occupier owes an invitee (someone who enters the property with the owner’s express or implied invitation) a duty to protect the invitee from dangerous conditions the owner knows or should know about, either by warning the invitee of the presence of the dangerous condition or by repairing the condition. An owner owes a licensee (someone who enters the property with the owner’s permission or other lawful authority) a duty to warn the licensee of any hazardous conditions the owner knows about and make those conditions reasonably safe.
Dealing with Insurance Companies
After a slip and fall accident, you will most likely pursue financial compensation from the property or business owner’s insurance company. However, you may find dealing with the insurance company challenging, as an insurer will do everything possible to minimize its financial liability to you. Some of the obstacles that slip and fall accident victims can face when pursuing insurance claims include:
- Delayed investigation of the accident by the insurance company
- Adjusters making successive demands for additional information or documentation
- Requests for written or recorded statements or medical releases
- Failures to return phone calls or emails
- Denials of coverage without adequate explanation or justification
Legal Representation and Hiring a Personal Injury Attorney
One of the most important steps you can take after getting hurt in a slip and fall accident includes hiring legal representation to guide you through the claims process. You should contact a personal injury attorney as early as possible in your recovery journey to obtain advice and assistance at each stage. An attorney can assist you with critical tasks in your slip and fall accident claim, such as:
- Collecting evidence from the accident scene
- Interviewing eyewitnesses
- Securing surveillance footage and accident reports
- Preparing and filing your insurance claims
- Dealing with insurance adjusters on your behalf
- Collaborating with expert witnesses on complex or technical issues in your case
- Pursuing a negotiated settlement of your slip and fall claim
- Filing lawsuits and presenting a compelling case in court and at trial
Statute of Limitations for Filing a Claim
Taking prompt action after suffering a slip and fall on someone else’s property can help protect your right to pursue legal claims against the property or business owner. Under Texas law, you have limited time to file a claim or lawsuit for a slip and fall accident. The statute of limitations on injury claims typically gives injury victims two years to file a slip and fall lawsuit. In limited circumstances where an exception to “toll” or pause the statute of limitations applies, injury victims may have more time to file suit. Keep in mind that if you suffer a slip and fall on state or local government property, state law requires you to submit written notice of your injury claim to the appropriate government department within six months of the accident.
Failing to file a timely claim or lawsuit may jeopardize your opportunity to recover compensation for injuries and losses you sustained in a slip and fall accident on another party’s property. The court can dismiss any claim filed after the statutory deadline, regardless of its merits.
Building a Personal Injury Claim
Preparing a personal injury claim to recover compensation for your injuries and losses due to a slip and fall accident involves gathering and organizing evidence from the accident scene, including accident scene photos, surveillance video, and witness testimony. Depending on the facts of your case, you and your personal injury attorney might consult accident reconstruction or engineering experts, who can provide written reports and testimony opining as to the cause(s) of the slip and fall accident and how the property or business owner bears responsibility for your fall.
Other types of evidence you might use to build a slip and fall accident claim include:
- Staffing records
- Repair or maintenance records
- Weather reports or records
- Your medical records
Documenting Potential Compensation Types
During your recovery from a slip and fall, remember to gather or keep documentation of financial losses you incur due to your injuries. Evidence of your financial losses may include bills, invoices, receipts, pay stubs, income statements, and tax returns. Compensation in your slip and fall accident claim can include money for:
- Medical treatment and rehabilitation
- Long-term disability care and support services, such as home health care, housekeeping assistance, assisted living, or disability accommodations
- Lost wages/income from missed time from work or reduced earnings in part-time/light-duty work
- Lost future earning capacity and employment benefits after becoming permanently disabled from work
An attorney can assist you with estimating future expenses and financial losses you might incur due to injuries or disability. You and your attorney can also work on preparing a compelling argument in support of your right to compensation for personal losses you suffer due to your injuries, including physical pain, emotional distress, and reduced quality or enjoyment of life.
Avoiding Common Mistakes
As you recover from injuries sustained in a slip and fall accident and pursue compensation claims against the owner of the property or business where your fall occurred, you should avoid taking various actions that might jeopardize your ability to obtain a financial recovery for your harm and loss:
- Do not defer recommended medical treatment and rehabilitation: If you put off treating or rehabbing your injuries, the property owner, business owner, or insurance company might contest the severity of your injuries or challenge the amount of compensation you’ve sought because you failed to mitigate your losses by seeking prompt treatment for your injuries.
- Avoid posting on social media: Refrain from discussing the accident or your injuries on social media, including speaking negatively about the property or business owner or insurance company. Making statements on social media that contradict your allegations in your slip and fall claim or bashing the property or business owner or insurance company may harm your credibility. You should also avoid posting photos or videos of yourself while undergoing treatment and rehabilitation for your injuries. Posting photos or videos where you’re playing sports, traveling, or partaking in other activities while recovering from allegedly disabling injuries can undercut the strength of your claim.
- Don’t give the insurance company a written or recorded statement or a medical release: The insurance adjuster may ask you to provide a written or recorded statement answering questions about the slip and fall accident. However, adjusters know how to ask injury claimants questions in such a way as to get the claimant to say things the insurance company can use to undercut the claimant’s case. Insurance companies also want medical releases to gain unfettered access to injured claimants’ medical history to look for anything the insurer can blame the claimant’s injuries on, such as prior injuries or preexisting degenerative changes.
- Waiting too long to file your claims: Although you should take time to recover evidence from a slip and fall accident and prepare a compelling case, waiting too long to file your injury claims may result in losing your opportunity to recover compensation. For example, do not delay notifying the insurance company about the accident; otherwise, the insurer may ultimately deny your claim due to a lack of sufficient evidence that has been lost or destroyed. And if you file a personal injury lawsuit after the deadline, the trial court can dismiss your case.
Long-Term Impact and Recovery
You can help support your slip and fall accident claim by following your doctor’s treatment plan and recovery instructions, including obtaining all treatments and rehabilitation recommended. While you can seek a second opinion if your doctor recommends invasive treatment, such as surgery, you should not put off or avoid treating your accident injuries. Deferring treatment runs the risk of your injuries becoming worse and needing more intense and expensive medical care, and reduces your chances of making a full recovery. Remember to obtain copies of your medical records during your treatment and rehabilitation.
If you’ve suffered catastrophic injuries in a slip and fall accident, such as severe traumatic brain injuries or spinal injuries, you may need extensive rehabilitation and long-term care and support to assist you with daily living.
Evidence Collection and Preservation
You and your premises liability lawyer can gather and organize all the evidence from the slip and fall accident to prepare your legal claims against the property or business owner. In particular, your attorney can handle collecting and preserving critical evidence held by the property/business owner or third parties, such as copies of any accident/incident reports and surveillance footage of your fall or the area around the accident scene.
Contact Our Slip & Fall Accident Attorney Today
After suffering injuries in a slip and fall accident on somebody else’s property, you may have the right to pursue financial recovery from a property or business owner whose negligence led to your fall. Taking prompt action after a slip and fall accident can protect your legal rights and put you in a favorable position to seek compensation for your harm and loss. Contact Loewy Law Firm today for a free, no-obligation consultation with an experienced Austin slip and fall accident lawyer to learn how we can help you obtain the accountability and justice you deserve for your injuries.