SLIP & FALL CHECKLIST TO REMEMBER
Slip & Fall: Now What?
Winter weather can spell disaster for pedestrians. One moment you are mobile, independent and getting life done. The next, you are on the ground: in pain, confused about what to do and worried about how you are going to make ends meet. If you have just had a fall because of a business or property owner’s negligence, there are steps you can take now that will be incredibly helpful for you down the road if you decide to hire an experienced injury lawyer:
- Get Yourself Immediate Medical Attention: if your injuries are visibly serious, an ambulance may be called right away. But sometimes people try to be brave, deny they are hurt and just try to get on with it and with their busy day. The pain grows with every hour and usually a close friend or family member ends up driving them to emerg. Getting medical attention is essential for your well being. It also documents your injury and starts a written record of your injury and treatment. It’s your first priority. And after you get emergency treatment, follow up with an appointment to your family doctor. Your family doctor will be your key day to day treatment provider and your primary medical record keeper.
- Get Names: there are always witnesses to a fall. Somebody always see something. It’s rare there is absolutely no one. Get their names and contact information. Details fade with time. And witnesses can become more distant and reluctant to get involved as time passes.
- Take Pics: ideally, you already thought to ask a witness or helpful Samaritan to snap a pic on your own cell phone of what caused you to fall before you left the scene. If you didn’t, now is the time to ask a family friend or family to go back (if they can do so in safety and it’s an area accessible to the public) to take photos. Remember: if the property owner asks them to leave, they must leave. While the best scenario is to have a picture of what caused your fall, a picture showing the offending rug, step, etc repaired and in good shape a day later also evidences that the owner/occupier of the property was worried and tried to go for the quick fix after the fact. Sometimes property owners go back to their old habits after a few weeks because they think it’s just too much bother and that rug, step or whatever is right back in the same bad state it was when you fell. Photos of that are also very helpful. Just how important are photos? A few months ago I had a Judge at a Pre-Trial ask for my pictures first thing. He wanted to see the lay of the land to better understand how the injury happened. Photos are huge.
- Take Selfies: your bruises, cuts and scrapes will fade with time. If you can see them now, you can feel the pain now. Record your injuries before they are no longer visible to the eye. Ask a trusted family member to help you with the photos. People can be embarrassed if their bruising is in private areas. Do your very best. Don’t forget to take a picture of the sensible shoes you were wearing when you fell. They may be your daily pair and if you need them to wear, take a photo now.
- Bag the Evidence: carefully bag your ripped and torn pants, top, coat, gloves, hat, glasses, damaged hearing aid and any other clothing or personal items damaged in the fall. Don’t wash those clothes. Don’t iron them. Just leave them as is. Place them in a safe, easy to find spot in your home. Write a note to yourself to help you remember where you stored them.
- Write it Down: set aside a quiet hour to write out in detail exactly what happened that day and how the fall occurred. Try your best to go through the happening of the injury step by step including the events leading up to the fall and what happened after you fell. Write out in as much detail as you can what people said to you after you fell. The details are fresh in your mind now. Take the time to do it right now before you forget those details. Your written account of what happened to you is your private property. You don’t have to give this to an insurance adjuster or investigator if you don’t want to. You can choose to share it with your lawyer instead and she can help you to decide when to share and with whom.
- Keep Records: keep all your receipts for all out of pocket expenses you incurred as a result of your fall. You would be amazed how quickly expenses add up. If in doubt, keep the receipt. A simple practice is to get an inexpensive notebook and tape or staple your receipts in each day. Don’t forget to use that notebook as a diary. Write down what your day was like living with your injury. Record your medical appointments including the name of the doctor you saw, what he told you and the name of any prescription. Record the impact of your fall injuries on your day to day life and your family’s life. If you couldn’t take your kids to hockey because of the pain, write it down. This is your diary of your pain and your loss. It is your personal property and you have the freedom to choose to share it with your lawyer.
What to do if you fell on a Municipal (City, Town or Village) sidewalk or Government property? All of the above. With one very important difference: a Notice Letter may also need to be sent ASAP (within 10 days of the fall) to the Municipality or you risk the possibility that a future lawsuit could be barred for failure to notify that Municipality. If you think there is any chance that you were injured on Municipal property, you need to call an experienced injury lawyer immediately to obtain specific and timely advice critical for your situation. Even if you’ve missed that 10 day notice window, call a lawyer now. Never give up or assume you may be out of time. Nothing is ever that cut and dried.
Please remember to call an experienced injury lawyer to discuss your injuries. Find out where you stand.