- December 15, 2022
- Slip and Fall Accident
While slipping and falling can seem funny on TV, it’s no laughing matter when it happens to you in real life. Slips and falls can result in serious neck, back, hip, arm, or head injuries. You suddenly find yourself on the floor, writhing in pain, wondering how you got there and what to do next.
Taking the right steps is vital. Doing something wrong or omitting something could compromise any legal case you might pursue. Keep reading for a step-by-step guide.
Steps to Take Soon After a Slip and Fall
There are several immediate actions you should take after being involved in a slip and fall. There are also some things you should avoid doing.
1. Seek medical care
Your health is a top priority. Before you even think about a legal claim, you must ensure you’re okay.
Don’t make sudden movements such as jumping back to your feet. You might have experienced an adrenaline surge that makes it hard to detect serious problems. If you have a neck or back injury, you will need to be stabilized before EMTs move you.
After you’ve had a chance to calm down, pay attention to the sensations in your body. Do you have any sharp pains? Aching? Throbbing? Tingling?
If you’ve hit your head, you will need to go to the hospital. Head injuries are serious and hard to assess, so you need expert care.
If you are not transported to a hospital immediately following your fall, you should see a doctor within the next two days. Soft tissue damage and some injuries are not readily apparent or immediately visible, like internal bleeding, bruising, or organ damage.
2. Report the incident to the manager or owner
If you aren’t taken away in an ambulance, you should report your fall immediately after it happens. If you’re in a business or on private property, tell the property owner, landlord, or a manager.
There is no need to recount all the details, just tell them that it occurred. Don’t exaggerate, guess, assume, or give details you aren’t sure about. If you tell your story multiple times and it seems like it changes over time, that can be used against you if you sue later on. Make sure to get the name of the person you talked to.
Do not try to negotiate anything without a lawyer. The purpose of talking to someone is just to notify the responsible party, ensure there is no lag in getting documentation of what happened, and keep memories fresh.
3. Document the scene
Taking photos of the scene of your slip and fall immediately is ideal. However, that is not always possible or even advisable, especially if you need urgent medical attention. Do not further risk your health and safety by trying to take pictures. You can always return later to do so or ask someone to do it for you.
Take pictures that show the condition of the area where you fell, and of any objects or items in the area. Be thorough. That could mean getting photos of water, ice, warning signs (or lack of signs), or tripping hazards such as cords. You could also photograph your shoes in case the insurance company later claims they contributed to your injuries.
In addition to pictures, you should make a note on your phone or write down any details that you remember, including:
- The time and date of your trip and fall accident
- What you were doing prior to falling
- What caused you to fall
- The manner in which you fell, such as on your back or side
- Whether the store was overly crowded for a special shopping event or sale
- The condition of the surface you fell on
- Whether there were any warning or “danger” signs.
Use all your senses to take note of all observable conditions, even if they seem unimportant to you in the moment. Being able to pinpoint the cause of your fall and any contributing factors soon after the incident will help your lawyer work backwards to determine what should have been done differently to prevent you from falling.
4. Find eyewitnesses
It will be very helpful for you to get the names and contact information for anyone who was nearby. Even if they didn’t actually see you fall, they can support you by describing the conditions where you fell. Having witnesses will stop the other side from denying your version of events.
Ask for any video footage, especially if you fell in a business, parking lot, or on a sidewalk.
If the person you reported your fall to writes an incident report or accident report, obtain a copy.
5. Document your injuries and preserve the clothing and shoes you were wearing
What you were wearing will be powerful evidence of the cause and nature of your injuries. For example, bloodied or torn clothes or broken glasses will show just how badly you were hurt and prove your pain and suffering.
If possible, documenting your injuries with pictures or video will also help. Making sure to seek medical care and obtaining copies of your records down the road will go a long way in completing this step.
6. Contact a slip and fall attorney
You need to focus on recovering and returning to work. The sooner you reach out to Kaplan, the faster you can do that and stop worrying about recovering your damages.
Also, the faster your lawyer will be able to start working for you. The other side will not want to take responsibility or will want to pay you as little as possible. Your attorney can ask the right questions and make sure you’re doing everything to maximize your recovery and make the case as smooth as possible.
Mistakes to Avoid After a Slip and Fall in New York
Now that you know what to do, you also need to know what to avoid doing. Business owners and insurance adjusters almost always involve attorneys to dispute slip and fall claims. Knowing what not to do is essential to avoid putting your claim at risk of failing.
Mistake #1: Forgetting to get contact information for witnesses or obtain photos of the scene
The best time to get evidence is right after your fall. Understandably, that’s not always possible, especially if you’re seriously injured. Don’t forget or hesitate to enlist the help of others if that’s the case.
Mistake #2: Not getting timely medical treatment or not following-up on treatment
The amount of follow-up treatment needed will depend on the nature and severity of your injuries. However, you should follow all doctor’s orders for rehabilitation. Not doing so can hurt not only your health, but your claim as well. You will want to show that you minimized your losses rather than making your injuries worse. If you miss appointments or refuse treatment, it will seem as if you weren’t really injured or that you recovered faster than you actually did.
Mistake #3: Not reporting the fall or not reporting it in a timely fashion
If you don’t report your fall, and you file a lawsuit later, it makes it easier for the other side to say you weren’t injured when you say you were. Or they might say your injuries weren’t very serious. They can argue that you must have gotten your injuries elsewhere or at another time, or they weren’t that bad. Otherwise, why didn’t you say something at the time?
Mistake #4: Signing a release of liability at the scene
You can and should be cooperative with the reporting process. But anything you sign will likely ask you to waive your right to sue. It’s best to wait until you talk to an attorney before signing any documents.
Mistake #5: Making statements regarding the cause of your fall or giving a sworn statement to the insurance adjuster
The property owner’s insurance company will likely try to avoid paying you compensation if possible. Anything you say to them can be used to do that. That includes seeming like you’ve changed your story about why you fell.
Mistake #6: Posting information about your accident on social media
Any statements you make can be used against you in your legal claim. This is especially true if you make statements that make it seem that your fall was your fault or your injuries weren’t that bad. It’s best to avoid saying anything at all about the cause of your fall or posting photos of your having recovered.
Mistake #7: Taking blame or downplaying your injuries
We are conditioned to be polite. Try to avoid saying things like, “It’s okay, it was my fault. I wasn’t watching where I was going.” Or “I’m fine.” Downplaying your injuries can result in your getting less compensation later on.
Mistake #8: Being rude, angry, confrontational, or argumentative
The shock, embarrassment, or pain caused by a slip and fall can stop you from acting in your best interests. These emotions and resulting behaviors can get in the way of practical and smart action. The more belligerent you act, the less credible you will be with the insurance company. Insurance companies know victims who misbehave get less money from juries, while calm and cooperative ones make a good impression in court. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot before you even file a claim by overreacting to an unfortunate situation.
Mistake #9: Talking to witnesses at length
You need to gather basic witness information, but don’t get into in-depth conversations about what they saw. Doing so could weaken the value of their testimony and be viewed as coaching, changing stories to match, or even forcing their cooperation.
Mistake #9: Not contacting a Kaplan lawyer or waiting too long to do so
An experienced attorney can advise you about your rights and help you investigate your claim early on. Additionally, you’ll get advice about how to proceed with the best course of action.
If you wait to see what happens before contacting a lawyer, you may be sacrificing compensation. There will be a deadline for filing your claim, and a lawyer can make sure you don’t miss it.
Our New York Premises Liability Lawyer Will Help You
When you have a knowledgeable attorney on your side, you will have competent guidance on how to handle the claims process. Your attorney can advise you on the right steps to take and mistakes to avoid that could jeopardize your case.
Contact Kaplan Lawyers as soon as possible at (516) 399-2364. We offer free consultations.
Our skilled and experienced attorneys are capable of handling your claim. Our accomplished legal team is fierce and determined when representing our clients, and we secure the awards that our clients deserve.
Attorney Jared S. Kaplan
Attorney Jared S. Kaplan has focused his career on advancing his legal knowledge though the day to day practice of law. Jared is a partner in the law firm of Kaplan Lawyers PC in Syosset, New York and has been a practicing attorney for nearly 20 years. His career started in litigation, so Jared is aware of the pitfalls in litigation and uses that knowledge in the representation of his clients in complex matters. [ Attorney Bio ]