If you're injured in a slip and fall accident in California, you may be entitled to compensation from the at-fault business or property owner. However, you must prove their negligence to convince their insurance company to pay you. The actions you take after your slip and fall accident can have a direct impact on the strength of your claim. In order to help protect your rights and increase your chances of winning your case, it is important to take the following actions after a fall:
- Seek Prompt Medical Care. If you were hurt, you want to seek immediate medical treatment. Even if you don't believe you were hurt or think the injuries are minor, you should be examined by a doctor within a day or two of your fall. The symptoms of many common medical conditions you could suffer—such as traumatic brain injury, spinal injuries, and back and neck injuries—might not develop for days or weeks after your accident. By seeking prompt medical care, this step protects your health and strengthens your claim for compensation. If you delay, the insurance company may argue your injuries were caused by another incident or aren't that serious.
- Take Pictures. Use pictures and video to clarify where you fell, and the surrounding area. These show other potentially hazardous conditions, such as dim lighting, spilled substances, cracked flooring, crumpled carpeting, and additional contributing factors. Take pictures from a variety of angles to provide a lot of detail and additional clues regarding the cause of your fall. It's important to take photos right away before the owner removes the potential cause. If you're too injured to do this, ask a friend or family member accompanying you, or a bystander, to take them with your cellphone camera.
- Report Your Accident. Another crucial step is to immediately notify the owner or business manager of your fall and file an accident report. This documents the incident and that you sustained injuries. Be sure to get a copy of the accident report. A business manager or owner isn't obligated to provide this report and might refuse your request, so take a picture of it with your phone.
- Obtain Witness Contact Information. It's critical to obtain contact information for any witnesses to your fall if you are able to do so. Witnesses can provide vital details about how you fell and the hazardous conditions that caused your accident. They may also have seen what contributed to the incident, such as spills or defective flooring, long before your fall. If you don't get their contact information at the scene, this crucial evidence could be lost.
- Look for Surveillance Cameras. When examining the scene, look for a surveillance camera nearby. It may have recorded your fall and might also have earlier footage of the accident scene. These facts help prove the owner or business manager knew or should have known about the hazard and failed to take steps to correct it.
- Preserve Your Shoes and Clothes. Another step many people don't always think about is saving clothing and shoes from the incident. The insurance company may try to argue that your clothes or shoes caused you to trip or fall. You can refute any potential argument if you take pictures of the shoes and clothes you wore at the time, and preserve them in a sealed plastic bag until your claim is settled.
- Don’t Sign Any Documents. You shouldn't sign the accident report or any other documents without first having them reviewed by an experienced slip and fall accident attorney. You could be waiving important legal rights without realizing it.
- Contact an Attorney. Retaining a skilled slip and fall accident lawyer as soon as possible after your fall is one of the best ways to protect your legal rights. An experienced attorney can collect the evidence you need to prove the at-fault party’s negligence, file your claim with their insurance company, and ensure you receive the full injury compensation you deserve.
If you were injured in a slip and fall accident in San Diego or Southern California, contact the Law Offices of Mark C. Blane, APC right away. Complete the online form on my website to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. Also, download my free book, The Ultimate California Slip and Fall Injury Legal Survival Book, to start learning about slip and fall claims.