Slip and fall accidents are one of the most common types of personal injuries for which property insurance is used. These situations come about where you slip, trip or fall as a result of a dangerous or hazardous condition on the property of another individual or business. Various reasons for falling can include the presence of water, ice, snow, abrupt changes in flooring, insufficient lighting, or a hidden hazard such as a gap or hole in the ground. Each case is determined on its own merit, based in part on whether or not there were reasonable precautions that the property owner could have taken to avoid the risk of injury but failed to take those measures. Slip and fall accidents are covered under the liability section of a property insurance policy and, typically, the only way to recover medical expenses, lost wages or money for pain and suffering from such falls is to file a personal injury lawsuit.
At the time of the accident or as soon as possible thereafter inspect the area where you fell to look around for potential causes. There could be snow, ice, water, spilled or squashed fruit, a loose or ragged carpet or uneven flooring. If you see the source of the problem, make a mental note of it. If you fell in a store or at a business where there are staff available, someone trained in first aid may be able to provide some immediate assistance and may be required to document the injury in an accident report or notify the manager. Graciously accept help and do not be combative or uncooperative.
When describing the accident, stay with the facts. Be aware that the information you provide is being taken in by a potential witness. Staff who work on the premises may have good intentions but they could potentially become aligned with the property manager or owner and use information you provide to downplay your injury or even shift the blame to you. Even something simple such as “I’m okay,” “I’ll be fine,” or “I didn’t see that” can be misconstrued. If you know what caused the fall, point it out to the business to ensure they clean up or otherwise redress the problem. If you don’t know what caused the fall, then keep the conversation to a minimum.
Collect Witness Information
Try to obtain the name and contact information of any witnesses and keep a record. Even if the witness did not see the accident happen, he or she could describe where you were hurt and the pain you were in and the conditions at the scene, including the weather that day at that time, the surface you fell on, the lighting, etc. If anyone makes a comment implying that this has happened before or that they were aware of the condition before your fall, make a mental note, including who else heard it, and get the name of the person who said it and write this down as soon as you are able to.
Take pictures of the accident site and your injuries. You can expect that the property owner will not do the same. When you are in private, write down what happened in your own words and draw a diagram of the specific location of the incident while it is fresh.
Be sure to obtain medical attention from your family physician after the accident. Your doctor will be able to refer you for the treatment you need and document the accident in your medical record. There are some conditions that take longer to show up from a slip and fall accident but it is important to document what happened as soon as possible.
Once you have seen a physician, you will want to retain a personal injury lawyer experienced with slip and fall accidents. It’s important to tell the lawyer how the injury occurred, the specific location, witness information and anything you said or did that could be used in your favour or against you. Provide the lawyer with a copy of the pictures, including who took them and when. Evidence from the scene that shows the owner of the property knew about, or should have known about a condition that caused your injury is critical. Your statement and witness statements about what was observed about the accident are part of that evidence. If you have not done all of the above, provide the lawyer with the information you do have and take his or her advice about what to do next.
Once you have retained a lawyer, he or she will locate the owner’s insurance information, usually based on the address of where the injury occurred. The insurance just needs to be in good standing (i.e., the premium payments are up to date) for a claim to be made. Proving and negotiating the settlement terms of a slip and fall claim can be difficult which is why a lawyer experienced with slip and fall cases is best.
In a slip and fall case, you will not be able to collect upfront for lost wages or medical bills from the property insurance plan, but a damages settlement covering your losses is highly likely a period after a law suit is claimed. You will want to utilize and exhaust other forms of insurance available to you, including any coverage from your employer or private insurance, such as a private disability insurance plan. Insurance is meant to give some protection for you, at least financially where you have an eligible claim.
Your lawyer will likely make contact with the property insurance company immediately after being retained to ensure that there is property insurance coverage. Then, under the statute of limitations, your lawyer has two years to file a claim from the date of the injury.
Hire an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer
Hiring a lawyer experienced in slip and fall accidents will help you obtain the maximum compensation possible. Your lawyer will be familiar with the common legal considerations in each case even though compensation is determined based on the material facts of each unique situation. For more information or a consultation, contact the experienced lawyers of Taylor & Blair LLP. Do not delay and get help today.
Kevin Blair &
Taylor & Blair LLP
Personal Injury lawyers
1607 – 805 West Broadway