What Should I Not Do After a Slip and Fall Accident?
Slips and falls are sudden, jarring, and sometimes harmful events. Such incidents often arise from the failure of store owners or other property owners to keep floors dry, clean, and unobstructed. The brief moment of your fall can generate medical bills, pain and suffering, lost income, and other damages. What you do after the fall can affect your claims for damages.
Below are five ways many victims of slips and falls complicate or derail efforts to get compensation.
Making Admissions While Being Polite
Resist the instinct to utter niceties such as “I’m sorry” or “It’s not your fault” or “I’m not hurt.” You're tempted to make such statements in response to store employees, family, or customers rushing to your aid or to find out what happened. What you treat as being polite becomes words and admissions to be used against you. The defendant can argue that you admitted that the property owner did nothing wrong or that you have suffered little, if any, damages.
Giving Recorded Statements to the Insurance Company
You have no obligation to submit to a recorded interview from the property owner’s insurance company. Respectfully decline any such request until you have consulted with a lawyer.
The landowner’s insurance company wants to eliminate or limit the defendant’s liability (and, thus, its liability) for your damages. The investigators and adjusters have experience and training in eliciting from slip and fall victims statements that can sink potential claims. Anything you say during such an interview becomes a basis to trip you up you if you later give a contradictory statement in a deposition or trial.
In fact, you will likely be deposed when you file a lawsuit. During your deposition, the opposing lawyer will ask you questions under oath about the incident. The questions will include what caused you to trip, slip, or fall. They may ask whether you were looking at the surface or whether you could have seen the condition and your damages.
Unlike giving a recorded statement to an adjuster, you will have a slip and fall lawyer present to object to improper questions or ask you questions to clarify and potentially damaging deposition testimony.
Not Seeking Medical Attention
For your own sake and that of your case, do not refuse medical treatment or avoid going to a physician. Serious injuries or medical issues may lurk underneath what first appears to be minor pain or an absence of fractures, lacerations, or bruises.
These hidden injuries may include concussions or internal swelling to the front or back of your head. Inform your physician if you have these symptoms:
- Memory problems
- Changes in mood, personality or behavior
- Loss of concentration
On the legal side, not seeing a doctor puts your claims of the existence or extent of your injuries into serious doubt. The defense lawyer may argue that you have failed to reduce, or mitigate, your injuries by not seeking medical treatment or heeding the advice and instructions of your healthcare provider.
Not Gathering Evidence
If you have the physical ability, you need to take photographs or videos of the condition on which you fell. These images provide clear evidence to show the dangerous condition. If you slipped on liquid, get photos of the spill and the leaking or busted container. Request or have a lawyer promptly request that the property owner preserve and provide to you any footage from security or monitoring systems.
Preventative measures in your slip and fall accidents should also include getting the names, addresses and phone numbers of employees and witnesses.
Discarding Your Clothes
It might not seem obvious at first, but throwing away the clothes you wore represents a mistake by slip and fall victims. Any discoloration of your clothing on the day of the incident indicates you slipped on bleach or other chemicals. Evidence of the fall may also come from tears, holes or other stains on the clothes.
Do not delay in getting legal help with your slip and fall case. An attorney with experience in these cases can help you avoid these pitfalls and get your lawsuit filed on time.
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