Unfortunately, a harsh reality is that you may suffer a slip, fall or trip accident at some point in your life. The injury can occur at your home, on the sidewalk, or even your favorite retail or grocery store. When faced with such an unexpected situation it is important to keep calm and to follow some helpful tips.
1. Report the accident. No matter where the incident occurs, it is very important to notify someone. The individual that you will need to notify will correspond to where the incident took place. For example, it may be the manager on duty if at a store, the owner of a home, or even a landlord if the premises is a rental. A corresponding tip is to make sure you get proof of the incident in writing with a report. Make sure you get a copy of that report.
2. Seek medical treatment. Many times injuries will not manifest until a few hours or even a few days after the incident takes place. Your health and the health of a loved one should be your number one priority following a slip, fall or trip accident. If you have a primary care physician that should be your first point of contact. Of course, if the injury is serious immediately go to the ER to get properly assessed and treated. The medical records following the incident will be your evidence of the injury, so it is important to seek medical treatment.
3. Document the incident. If anyone witnessed the incident, it is important to gather his or her contact information, which will be extremely helpful if you proceed with legal action. These witnesses will prove your case for you-and can mean the difference between winning and losing your case. Along with witnesses, you want to document where you fell. With technology and smartphones, it is important to take pictures of where the incident took place including any wet floors, icy conditions, debris on the ground or any defects that you notice. You can also take a video in addition to the pictures. Take note of the shoes you were wearing and what you were doing right before the accident. Hold on to the shoes you were wearing on that date because they will be used as evidence in your corresponding legal case. You also want to try to identify the actual liquid that is on the floor if you slip and fall on a wet floor.
4. Limit any statements you may give. The first call you will receive after the incident will not be from the general manager from the store or the landlord where the incident occurred but from their insurance adjuster. They will tell you that they will take care of your medical bills and seem compassionate of your plight, but what they really care about is damage control. Please decline to give any statements until you have consulted with an attorney. You want to control the narrative on how the incident occurred and once you make any kind of admissions to anyone, they can be used against you in a subsequent civil proceeding.
With these helpful tips I am confident that you will be better prepared when facing this scary situation.
TAPinto Edison’s legal analyst, Bhaveen R. Jani, is an attorney at Stark & Stark where he handles personal injury matters. He is also the former President of the NJ South Asian Bar Association. The information provided in this column is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice.