August 30, 2016
Slip and fall cases are some of the most common cases lawyers are asked to review and among the most difficult cases to prove. If you have slipped, fallen, and been injured due to the carelessness of a third party there are things you should understand and actions you should take immediately.
PRESERVE THE ACCIDENT SCENE
It is natural to be embarrassed by falling. The initial reaction of most slip and fall victims is to get up, hope no one saw them fall, and to leave the scene as quickly as possible. Many times victims in slip and fall cases delay calling a Salt Lake City, UT personal injury lawyer until the embarrassment of the fall has been replaced by the realization that a serious injury has occurred. As a Utah personal injury lawyer I have been contacted countless times by victims telling me about a slip and fall that occurred several months ago. I am immediately confronted with problem of gathering proof as to how the slip and fall occurred. Evidence of negligence in a slip and fall case can disappear as quickly as: A floor can be swept, ice or snow can melt, or a video be erased. Furthermore a rule of evidence called “subsequent remedial measures” prevents a lawyer from showing that a negligent party cleaned up the scene of your accident immediately after your fall. The public policy behind this rule is to prevent another accident but the rule can also make your case much more difficult to prove. So the best evidence in a slip and fall case is freshest evidence. Take out your smart phone and take pictures of where and how you fell. Contact a property, or store manager and request an accident or incident report be created and that your version of the slip and fall be included. Find out if the property where you fell is covered by any video surveillance and make a written request that the video be preserved. This may seem over the top, but remember, no police officer is going to show up, create a report, and issue citations for the negligent actions which caused your fall.
SEEK TREATMENT IMMEDIATELY
If you suspect that you are injured always seek treatment immediately. Ask the property, or store manager for their insurance information. Commercial insurance policies almost always include medical coverage for persons injured on the covered property. Going to the hospital immediately, documenting with a physician how you were injured, and using the negligent party’s insurance is best way to commence a successful claim. Delaying treatment will likely cause insurance adjusters or a jury hearing you case to question where and how your injury occurred.
CONSULT AN ATTORNEY
Slip and fall cases are challenging for personal injury attorneys because they must evaluate not only the negligence of the property owner but that of the person who fell as well. Defense attorneys and insurance adjusters will likely claim that the person who fell was simply inattentive to conditions that a reasonable person would have avoided. State laws regarding comparative negligence differ greatly. In Utah if the injured party is as much as 50% to blame he receives nothing and any percentage of blame attributed to him (less than the 50% threshold) will reduce his recovery by that percentage. An attorney will also likely want to establish the level of care or duty that the property owner had toward the slip and fall victim. This can vary from a relatively low duty of “reasonable care” to the high duty of “warn or make safe.” Since laws vary from state to state it is important to consult with a competent personal injury attorney to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of your case.
Thanks to our friends and blog authors from Rassmussen & Miner for their insight into personal injury practice.