10 Do’s and Don’ts to Win Your Slip, Trip, and Fall Case
DO - 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. However, if the landowner caused the danger itself - like a leaky refrigeration unit in grocery store - then notice is not required.
DO - Remember and Write Down Where the Slip and Fall Happened and What You Fell Upon
- A landowner owes different standards of care depending on 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 high standard of care as retail stores or other businesses.
DO - 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 on the weather.
- If you have the shoes, keep them or take a picture of them.
- Do not wear these shoes until after you have settled your case, if possible.
DO - 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 an incident report is 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 admissions or acknowledgements of the dangerous condition like substances, 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.
DO - Take Cell Phone Photos Immediately, if Possible
- 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, ice, holes, or cracks in pavement can get fixed quickly. Do what you can.
DO - 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 if they are aggravated by your accident.
- Don't assume that you are prevented from recovering just because you had a problem in your past with an injury or condition.
- Most slip and fall injuries are not visible at first. Your doctor, however, will know how to care for you and what to keep an eye out for.
- Your doctor visit will also create useful medical documentation.
- Keep thorough records of all of your follow-up appointments, including rehab appointments and treatments.
- Medical documentation provides a link of causation between the accident and your injury. You must prove that the injuries resulted from your fall.
DO – Take Pictures of Your Injuries
- Most people are visual learners when retaining information. Help your jurors understand the true nature of your injuries and the pain and suffering you experienced. Use your cellphone’s camera.
- Photograph your injuries. Many slip and falls result in bruising or other indicators of injury. Bruises go away without photos.
- Photograph any surgical incisions or other invasive treatments. Don't be shy, but you can cover your face, if necessary. Photos help your injury case.
DON’T Say Too Much - Keep Your Words to a Minimum When Talking to Store Manager or Investigator
- Immediately after your slip and fall accident, you need to keep your wits about you. We know you can be shaken and may not realize what you are saying or doing. Maintain focus, as this can make the difference in your case.
- At the scene, refrain from talking as much as possible. You can graciously accept offers to help, but do not discuss how the fall occurred or who is to blame. Do not make any 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.
DON’T Give a Statement to the Insurance Company
- Don’t give a recorded statement to the insurance company without first speaking with Shaw Law.
- The insurance adjuster will NOT tell you the truth. He or she might say it is necessary to give a statement “so your medical bills can get paid.” This is NOT true. A recorded statement is not a prerequisite to medical payments coverage if insurance exists.
- The ONLY purpose of a prerecorded statement is to USE AGAINST YOU LATER in court or at a deposition (statement under oath).
- Yes, you can give name, address, and what doctors you are seeing, but do NOT give a recorded statement over the telephone of what happened.
DON’T FORGET - Hire the Right Lawyers and Cooperate
- Our website says it 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 30+ years of experience.
- 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 the best strategy is in every case.
- Help your lawyer. Keep in good communication. If you have a cellphone and an email address, 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.
Call Shaw Law at (260) 777-7777. It’s free to call or chat with our firm at your convenience.
Not just the lawyers you need, but the lawyers you WANT.- Tristen K
Jeff Shaw was Very Professional- Shelby Kunes
Attorney Shaw got me a fair settlement, much more than I thought we were going to get.- Randy & Kathy M
I Told Him He Now Felt Like a Member of Our Family More Than Our Attorney.- Stephanie B.
Your Law Firm Is Number One in Indiana. You Receive an A+ in My Book.- April H.
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