10 Steps To Victory
Understand What You Need to Prove
- You must prove the landowner was “at fault” for your fall. The fact you fell on another’s property by itself is not enough evidence to prove “fault” or recover any damages.
- It is difficult to decide whether a landowner is “at fault.” Each case is different. But there are often common safety rules that should be followed by businesses.
- Generally, fault is decided by examining whether the property owner acted “carefully” (like a reasonable business would) to make its property reasonably safe. Not following simple industry-wide safety rules or its own internal guidelines might prove the “fault” necessary to recover damages.
- However, a jury might decide you were at fault or partially at fault for your own fall by not paying attention to the defect on the land; or if you did see the defect by failing to avoid the open and obvious danger.
- The landowner must have a chance to “fix” the defect. This is called “notice.” The landowner must have a sufficient amount of time to be able to clean up or remedy the dangerous condition – like being able to snow plow its parking lot after a snowstorm but not being required to do it while it is still snowing. But, if the landowner caused the danger itself – like a leaky refrigeration unit in grocery store – then notice is not required.
Remember and Write Down Where the Slip and Fall Happened and What You Fell Upon
- A landowner owes different standards of being careful depending upon whether the person on the land was invited or a trespasser. (A formal invitation is not necessary -customers of businesses are considered “‘invited.”)
- Try to determine who owns the land because that will help determine the duty the business owed to you. If you don’t know who owned the property, Shaw Law can help you find out.
- If you slipped or fell at a house of an acquaintance or a non-business like a school or hospital, the owner can still be held liable if the above criteria are met.
- Nursing homes, assisted living facilities and apartment complex owners or landlords are held to the same highest standard of care as retail stores or other businesses.
Document the Fact of What Happened by Writing it Down Immediately
- If you believe that the landowner where you fell was at fault or helped cause your injury, write down what happened right after the injury while it’s still fresh in your mind.
- This information should include any visible defects in the surface where you fell, what you fell upon and whether you heard oral warnings or saw visible warning signs.
- You should note common defects that cause falls include: (a) snowy and icy accumulations and the approximate size or depth of the area in which you fell; (b) Leaky gutters contributing to ice puddles or downspouts; (c) Poor Lighting; (d) Changes in levels of sidewalks, unmarked stairs or defects such as large cracks; (e) Wet or slippery substances on floors including water in restrooms, mopped aisles or produce on grocery store floors.
Keep the Clothes and Shoes You Were Wearing
- It’s a favorite topic of slip and fall defense lawyers everywhere – “what type of shoes were you wearing?” The idea is that generally you will be blamed for wearing inappropriate shoes such as clogs or flip-flops depending upon the weather.
- If you have the shoes, keep them. Or take a cell phone photograph.
- Do not wear them until after you have settled your case if possible.
Ask to Fill Out an Incident Report Immediately or the Next Day if You Forget
- After you fall, fill out an incident report or insist the business provide an incident report, if you are physically able to do so.
- Notify a manager and insist upon an incident report to be provided. It’s important to document what happened.
- Write down the names of the employees or manager you are talking with.
- Find “witnesses” or people who saw you fall and get their names and addresses or telephone numbers. Ask for help; don’t be afraid. Ask family members to seek out witnesses if they were present with you during your fall. Typically, witnesses have no bias and can help immensely.
- Write down any acknowledgements of the dangerous condition like substances or liquids or other problems on the floor or land. Write down if the problem was old or new.
- Write down any apologies, while such admissions cannot always be used at a jury trial, we can always refer to these statements during settlement negotiations.
Don’t Say Much – Keep Your Words to a Minimum When Talking to Store Manager or Investigator
- Immediately after your slip-and-fall, you need to keep your wits about you. Slip-and-fall victims are often rattled by what has occurred and tend to not realize what they or those around them are saying or doing, but maintaining focus after a slip and fall can be the difference between a win and a loss in court.
- At the scene, you should keep talk to a minimum; feel free to be gracious and accept offers of help.
- Refrain from talking about how the fall happened, laying blame or making immediate demands.
- In the weeks after: You may be approached by insurance adjusters and attorneys from the property owner or responsible party.
- Do not talk to any insurance representatives or give a statement in the days or weeks after the fall; it’s designed to be used against you later.
- Many people think they can “explain” or “win” their slip and fall case themselves. It can’t be done. Don’t try it. Instead, call Shaw Law immediately and we will schedule your statement or deposition later.
Take Cell Phone Photos Immediately Or The Next Day
- Inspect The Area Where You Fell As Soon As You Can After The Fall. These Cases Always Seem To Have Widely Differing Viewpoints By Participants As To The Condition Of The Land. Photos Can Be The Difference Between A Win And A Loss In Court.
- At The Scene, Photograph Where You Fell, If You Can.
- If It Is The Possible, Have A Family Member Or Friend Photograph The Condition Of The Land If You Are In The Hospital.
- Dangerous Conditions Like Snow Or Ice Or Holes Or Cracks In Pavement Can Get Fixed Quickly. Do What You Can.
See Your Doctor, Keep all Appointments and Get Better
- Even if your injuries aren’t severe, you should still see a doctor. Even pre-existing injuries are compensable in Indiana for the aggravation of that condition.
- Don’t assume just because you had a problem in your past with an injury or condition, that you are prevented from recovering.
- Most slip-and-fall injuries are not immediately visible, but your doctor will know what to look for.
- Your doctor visit will also create useful medical documentation.
- Keep records of any follow-up appointments or treatments, including physical rehabilitation.
- Medical documentation provides a link of causation between the accident and your injury. You must prove that the injuries resulted from the fall.
Photograph Your Injuries
- Most people are visual when retaining information. Help your jurors understand the true nature of your injuries and the pain and suffering you experienced. Use your cellphone.
- Photograph your injuries. Many slip and falls result in bruising or other indicators of injury.
- Photograph any surgical incisions or other invasive treatments. Don’t be shy. Cover up your face, if necessary. Photos help your injury case.
Hire the Right Lawyers and Cooperate – Shaw Law, Indiana’s Slip and Fall Attorneys
- Our website says its all – we are “slipandfall.com.”Hire experienced slip and fall lawyers. Unfortunately, statistics show that most slip and fall jury trials are lost by injured victims. Attorney Jeff JJ Shaw has never lost a single slip and fall jury trial in over 30+ years of experience. And we’ve literally settled cases for millions of dollars – $$$ – for hundreds of other injured persons.
- Listen to Your Lawyer. We only get paid when you get paid. We are on the same side. We have the experience to know what is the best strategy in every case.
- Help Your Lawyer. Keep in good communication. If you have a cell phone and an email, provide those to us and check for texts and emails. We can communicate electronically.
- Be honest with your attorney. Even if there are facts in your case that are not favorable to you, you must tell your attorney. Lying to your attorney will only hurt you and your case.
- Act professionally at all times. Yelling, cursing or being rude during statements, depositions or court conferences can adversely affect your case.
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