Next to going to the hospital, preserving your legal rights is the most important thing you can do for yourself after you hurt yourself in a slip-and-fall accident. The steps you take in the following days and weeks could mean the difference between a successful lawsuit against the negligent property owner and having to find a way to pay your medical bills and make up for your lost wages yourself.
Here are seven steps to take after a trip-and-fall accident:
- Report your accident to the property owner. Let them know as soon as possible, preferably within 24 hours. Ask to speak to the manager, or if you were hurt on public property like an Allentown park or courthouse and you did not call 911 at the time, contact the city. The sooner you report what happened, the harder it will be for the property owner’s insurance company to claim fraud.
- Get contact information from any witnesses. The testimony of an eyewitness can be invaluable. If someone saw you fall, ask if they will share their name and phone number. Your attorney will likely want to speak to them, and the witness might have to testify at trial.
- Take photos. Thanks to smartphones, almost everybody has a digital camera in their pockets or purses. If you feel up to it, take pictures of the site where you slipped. This will capture the unsafe conditions at the scene before the ice melts or the property owner fixes the hazard. If you cannot take pictures, ask a friend or relative to do so as soon as possible.
- Follow doctor’s orders. Go to the emergency room, or if you feel you don’t need the ER, you should still make an appointment with your doctor. This shows that your injuries are serious. Tell the doctor treating you exactly how it happened. Keep up with all follow-up appointments and prescriptions.
- Be careful dealing with the insurance company. You are not required to fill out an accident report for the insurance company or undergo a tape-recorded statement.
Most importantly, consider contacting a personal injury attorney. A lawyer familiar with the process of a slip-and-fall claim can explain what to expect and the mistakes to avoid.