When you slip, trip or fall and are injured on another person’s property, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against them. The owner or manager of a property owes you as a visitor a duty of care to help you avoid injury. This means ensuring that the property is maintained and that any hazards are clearly identified. If the owner or manager of the property fails to do this, they become liable for damages in a slip and fall lawsuit. There are important steps to take in a slip and fall case to ensure the most positive outcome.
1. Document the Fall
Thorough evidence is important in any personal injury lawsuit. You must have enough evidence to prove at least that the property owner was negligent and that this negligence caused your accident and any resulting injuries. Documentation and evidence can include many things depending on the situation. You will want to collect picture evidence of the hazards and collect statements from witnesses. When claiming damages for injuries, you will need documentation of the injury and its cost. This means having medical records and doctor statements. Your lawyer will be able to help you collect and organize the evidence you need for the lawsuit.
2. Photograph the Area and Speak with Witnesses
Photographs are one of the strongest types of evidence you can present in a slip and fall case. It is important to take the pictures as soon as possible after the accident. If you do not require emergency assistance, you may be able to take the pictures immediately or have a friend take them for you. If you are unable to take the pictures immediately, return to the scene as soon as possible.
Witness testimony is also important. In a lawsuit, it is likely the defendant will try and argue that you were responsible for our own injuries, freeing them from liability. If you have witnesses to the fall who can attest that the dangerous situation you photographed was the true cause of your accident, then you have a much stronger case.
3. See a Doctor
Many slip and fall accidents result in minor injuries or injuries that are not immediately noticeable. Even if your injuries seem minor, it is important to see a doctor as soon as possible after an accident. Examination and testimony from your doctor provides the clear link between your injuries and the accident. Otherwise, the defendant may argue that the accident didn’t cause your injuries.
There may also be injuries you didn’t notice at the time, but are still serious or develop symptoms later. If you don’t include these injuries in your lawsuit because they weren’t identified in time, you can’t go back and collect damages for them later. It is important that all injuries attributed to the accident are included up front.
4. Contact a Lawyer
Slip and fall cases can be complex. There is often a surprising amount of information to keep track of, and you may not know what is important. It is also important that you focus on your recovery and leave someone else to argue with an insurance company or defending attorney. This is what your lawyer is for. The earlier they can be brought on to help you, the easier and more successful your lawsuit will be.
5. Mediate or Go to Trial
There are several ways to resolve a lawsuit that your lawyer may discuss with you. You may have the option to mediate the lawsuit, which is generally easier and less expensive than litigation. If mediation or settlement outside of court is not possible, then you must litigate a settlement in court. The advantage of litigation is that you may be able to collect a higher award but it will take longer and you may incur greater legal costs.
By understanding all of the important steps in a slip and fall case, you can be better prepared to deal with this stressful legal situation. While few lawsuits are easy, they can be less stressful and more successful when the correct steps are taken.