At the Piatchek Law Firm, we understand that accidents like slips, trips, and falls can cause serious injuries. These types of accidents are very common and can occur almost anywhere. Property owners, including business owners and operators, should always keep walkways, aisles, sidewalks, parking lots, and common areas reasonably safe for others to walk and move.
A slip and fall accident can leave you physically injured, emotionally upset, and uncertain of what to do next. One minute you are walking down an aisle or sidewalk, and the next minute you are lying on the ground, bewildered. It all happened so quickly.
How Common Are Slip and Fall Injuries?
Each year, over a million people are treated in emergency rooms for injuries they suffered as a result of a slip and fall, and over 20,000 people actually die from a slip or fall injury in North America each year.
A slip or fall can happen anywhere – at a store, theater, stadium, parking lot, playground, sidewalk, stairs, park, or retirement community, just to name a few. Of course, injuries can also happen while you are working at your workplace or a job site, and our firm can also assist you with any worker’s compensation claim you may have.
Slips and falls are caused by many different dangerous conditions, such as wet, slippery, damaged, or cluttered floors; ice or snow in parking lots or on sidewalks; inadequate lighting either inside or outside; or the existence of holes, potholes, trenches, or muddy conditions.
If have have been injured as a result of a slip or fall, there are steps you need to take after the accident, to ensure that you are compensated for your injuries by the party that caused them.
What Types of Injuries to Slips or Falls Typically Cause?
A wide array of injuries can result from slip, trip, and fall accidents, far too many to mention. However, for example, it is not uncommon to experience a head, neck, or spinal injury; a broken arm, leg, foot, or wrist; a fractured hip or pelvis; or torn muscles, tendons, or ligaments.
What to Do After Your Slip and Fall Accident
Immediately after you slip and fall, you may not initially think you are hurt, or you may think you have not been hurt very badly. If you think there is any chance at all that you have been injured, there are several important steps you will need to take, including:
Seek medical care.
Every year, more than one million people are treated in emergency rooms for injuries they suffered as a result of a slip and fall. It is important for you to get checked out, even if you do not think you were hurt badly enough to require medical treatment. Sometimes, the adrenaline rush caused by the slip or fall can mask the pain at first, so you don’t feel the injury right away.
A physician knows what to look for, and how to assess possible injuries. Some injuries, such as damage to soft tissues, may not be obvious or noticeable until a few days have passed. By seeking treatment immediately after the slip or fall, you greatly increase your chances of a full recovery, no only in the medical sense, but also legally and financially speaking. Seeing a doctor or licensed healthcare professional not only ensures your safety, but documents your injuries in case the defense should argue that your injuries were caused at some other time, or by some other occurrence.
Survey the scene.
If you are able, look around you. Identify anything that looks or feels out of the ordinary, that could have caused you to slip and fall. Is there water or other liquid on the floor? Does the floor appear to be recently mopped? Is there debris on the floor? If outside, is the sidewalk in disrepair? Is the sidewalk uneven or do you see potholes? Is there debris on the sidewalk? Was the sidewalk slippery due to ice or snow, or was it in need of shoveling?
If you can, or if someone is with you, take photos of the scene around you and the condition of the floor. Even if nothing looks out of the ordinary, you or your attorney may later find something you did not notice at first, possibly from the shock caused by the fall. Most people carry a cell phone, and almost all phones have a camera, so hopefully you should be able to take some pictures immediately. Photos showing the poorly maintained spot where you fell can have a tremendous effect on those who will later decide if someone else is responsible for your fall or slip.
Additionally, you should take the pictures as soon as possible. For example, if you slipped in a puddle, then waited a day later to take photos, the puddle will have likely dried up, and there would no longer be photographic evidence of what caused your slip and fall.
Identify witnesses and get statements.
If there was anyone around who witnessed your fall, ask if they will provide a statement. Get their names and contact information, such as phone number, address, and email address.. Your attorney will be able to contact them and ask for a written statement documenting what they observed.
Save your shoes, clothes, or other evidence.
The person or business responsible for your accident may claim that you were wearing inappropriate shoes, or your pants were dragging on the ground, etc. which caused you to slip and fall. If you have saved the items, you will be able to better rebut any such arguments.
Report the accident.
Immediately report the accident to whoever you find that may be in charge: the shopkeeper, business owner, homeowner, or property manager. A written report is generally prepared. Be sure you get a copy of it.
Write down or document what happened.
A written document you prepared close to the time of the accident preserves your memory about the entire incident, including how the slip and fall happened. Include all the details that you can. Document your injury, your types and amounts of pain, and your medical treatment.
Do not share information about your accident on social media, or any sort of public forum, online or otherwise. Anything you say on social media or in a public forum can be misconstrued and used against you. It is best to avoid posting completely until your case is resolved, but at a minimum, avoid posting about your accident.
Why You Need to Work with an Attorney
An attorney can help you in several ways in recovering damages for your slip and fall injury:
Proving fault. Under Missouri comparative fault law, any damages you incur can be reduced if the defendant can prove you were partially at fault for the accident. Damages will be reduced according to the percentage of fault that can be attributed to you. An attorney can help you prove that the injury was the fault of the other party, and not your own fault.
Filing before the statute of limitations expires. Missouri law requires you to bring your claim for compensation within a certain time after the injury occurred. If you miss this deadline, you will never be able to recover compensation, no matter how severely you may have been hurt. Statutes of limitations can be confusing, and can be different from case to case, and there may be exceptions or nuances. An attorney can help you understand how long you still have to file a suit.
Being a Resource. An attorney can also be a resource that you can rely upon to not only give you advice and counsel, but to help you find referrals to health care providers or other professionals that you may need after your injury.
To discuss your slip and fall injury with one of our attorneys at the Piatchek Law Firm, LLC, you can schedule an initial free consultation by calling our offices directly at 417-882-5858 or by contacting us online.