The sad truth is that you’re likely to suffer a slip and fall accident at some point in your life. Worse still, the accident won’t probably be your fault. According to the Florida premises liability law, homes, parking lots, buildings, and walkways should be well-maintained to ensure they are safe for use.
However, this is not always the case because many people often get hurt in slip and fall accidents due to owners’ negligence. If you find yourself in this unfortunate situation, you’re entitled to compensation for your hospital expenses, pain and suffering, and even time off work. The compensation you’ll receive depends on the extent of injuries you suffered.
Slip and Fall Accidents in Florida
Slip and fall accidents are a leading cause of ER visits in Florida. These accidents typically occur at amusement parks, public places, restaurants, and theaters. A significant number of these incidents also happen at school and work.
When you leave your house for school, work, or other errands, getting hurt in a slip and fall accident isn’t something you plan. Thus, few people know what to do after getting injured. Even so, what you do after the incident can impact your claim and ability to get fairly compensated for your losses.
Although Florida law gives you the right to sue the property owners under a negligence claim, the claim should get filed within four years of the incident. If the statute of limitations elapses, you won’t be allowed to file your claim, irrespective of how seriously you got injured.
Measures to Take After a Slip and Fall Incident
When a slip and fall accident occurs, you’ll undoubtedly be scared, confused, and hurt. Here are the measures to take:
Seek Medical Treatment
Immediate medical attention is critical to your safety, besides being an essential building block for your negligence claim. The doctor will prove the timing of your injuries and create an expert record of the injuries. Every day you wait without seeing a doctor potentially waters down your claim because the defendant’s lawyer may argue that the accident didn’t cause your injuries.
The extent of your injuries may not come to light immediately after the accident. If you suffered head trauma, for instance, you might not know it. Such hidden injuries tend to have long-term ramifications. Therefore, a full accounting of the injuries you suffered in a slip and fall accident is not only crucial for your health but also helps your legal team to build a solid case for fair compensation.
Follow Your Treatment to the Letter
Many of us are guilty of regularly missing medical appointments and failing to follow up on prescribed medications and treatments. However, this is among the worst mistakes to commit after a slip and fall accident. If you have the habit of missing medical appointments, the defense may argue that you weren’t injured seriously or had started to heal before you began missing the appointments.
The same applies to the medication and therapy that your doctor will prescribe. The only caveat to this is that you should keep off pain pills, even if they are recommended by your doctor. If you plan on filing a negligence claim, ask the doctor to recommend alternative forms of treatment, including chiropractic treatment, physical treatment, or even surgery if you got seriously injured.
Report the Incident to the Property Manager/Owner
It’s crucial to immediately report your slip and fall accident to the owner or manager of the property where it occurred. If you got rushed to the hospital after the accident, ask a friend or family member to report the incident. Furthermore, before leaving the accident scene or after leaving the hospital, request a copy of the accident report from the property owner/manager or the police.
Juries and defense attorneys often question slip and fall accidents that weren’t reported immediately. Hence, by delaying to report the incident, you might end up getting much lower compensation or none at all. Other than reporting the incident, limit communication with the property owner/manager and witnesses. Avoid getting into discussions about the incident because these individuals may testify based on what you discussed.
Document the Scene
We’re living in the smartphone era, which means it’s much easier to document the scene of an accident immediately. During the case, this might help to prove that the property owners’ negligence contributed to the accident and the resultant injuries.
In this regard, take lots of pictures at both close-up and wide-angle views and from multiple directions. In particular, focus on the exact spot where the accident occurred while taking note of the conditions that may have contributed to the slip and fall. If you’re too injured to document the scene, ask a trusted family member or friend to do it for you.
Both sides will find it challenging to evaluate the case without these pictures. Similarly, photographs are crucial in determining the at-fault party. Some property owners may even repair or clean whatever caused you to slip and fall, which is why you should take photographs of the accident scene immediately.
Maintain a Case File
After taking pictures of the accident scene, keep a case file of all documents connected to the case. These may include medical records, correspondence with insurance companies, records of your absence from work and lost income, and records of accident-related medical expenses.
It’s equally advisable to note down everything that happened while capturing every detail you can remember. Thanks to the shock that accompanies slip and fall accidents, it’s easy to forget everything fast. Therefore, write down everything you can remember as soon as possible. Some of the details to include are:
- Everything you remember, including the time the accident occurred
- Your injuries and how you felt after the accident
- What was happening before your fall
- What you noticed about the scene after your fall
- How witnesses reacted after the accident
When you capture as much detail as possible, it will be easy for your attorney to put the pieces together and argue a strong case. Also, do not discard or wash the shoes or clothes you wore when the accident happened. Any blood, dirt, or damage on your clothes or shoes may be strong evidence of the seriousness of the accident and the resultant injuries.
Witnesses can play a crucial role in verifying your version of events. For instance, if the accident happened in a convenience store, fellow shoppers will be your best witnesses, especially if they saw what happened. Get their contact details and let them know you might be in touch if you need them to testify on your behalf.
The best way to get witnesses is to approach those who saw what happened. Ask them to explain what they saw briefly, then ask for their names and contact information. When you hire an attorney, they will contact the witnesses to provide detailed written reports of what they saw.
Indeed, witnesses play a critical role in slip and fall accidents because they prevent the defense from refuting your account of events. However, finding witnesses who will agree to testify can be a tall order. That shouldn’t dissuade you because they’re not a requirement in this type of case. Even if you don’t have witnesses, your attorney can still build a strong case.
Do Not Assign/Accept Blame
In the aftermath of your slip and fall accident, an investigation will take place to establish fault. The investigation may take a while to conclude, but that shouldn’t make you accept or assign blame. Instead, wait until the case gets thoroughly evaluated by experts.
In this regard, refrain from giving statements to the property owners’ insurers until you’ve consulted your attorney. Similarly, avoid signing any document from the property owner or their insurers. Photos posted or comments made on social media platforms may also be detrimental to your case, and therefore, refrain from such.
Talk to A Personal Injury Lawyer
After a slip and fall accident, you’ll want to get fairly compensated for your losses, such as medical expenses, lost wages, and the pain and suffering you experienced. As such, it’s best to talk to a slip and fall attorney as soon as possible. An experienced slip and fall attorney knows the other side will try not to pay you or pay as little money as possible for those losses.
An attorney will also help you document your case and gather the necessary evidence while ensuring that the claims process is as smooth as possible. They will also handle the typically tense negotiations with the defense and give you as much edge as possible.
If you or a loved one gets injured in a slip and fall accident in Florida, do not allow the compensation you deserve to slip away. Instead, contact the experienced personal injury lawyers at Shiner Law Group. Our team has all the resources needed to review your case, find potential witnesses, and build on the evidence you’ve already collected. So, contact us today to schedule a free consultation with our personal injury attorneys.