Every year, millions of individuals are injured in slip and fall accidents. As the leading cause of emergency room visits, these dangerous and costly injury accidents should not be taken lightly (falls account for 8 million emergency room visits, while slips account for 1 million visits). Costs due to doctor’s visits, treatment plans, continuing care, and lost wages skyrocket when TBIs (traumatic brain injuries) and other permanent disabilities or disfigurements occur as a result of a slip and fall.
Because being hurt in a slip and fall accident can have a profound impact on your personal, physical, and financial future, it’s imperative to understand the risk factors associated with slip and falls, as well as your legal rights.
Demographics and Injury Types
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 25% of adults aged 65 years and older injure themselves in a slip or fall every year. For the elderly, falling just one time doubles the risk of falling again. Sadly, many older adults who’ve fallen limit their activities because they fear hurting themselves a second time.
Although common among the elderly, slip and fall injuries are dangerous and costly for individuals of all ages. Anyone who injures themselves in a slip and fall accident is at risk for serious injuries including:
§ Broken bones: usually breaks or fractures occur in the wrist, arm, ankle, or hip.
§ Brain Injuries: TBIs (falls are the leading cause of traumatic brain injuries), bleeding in the brain, loss of consciousness, memory loss, and many impairments. Sometimes even death may occur.
Slip and fall accidents can happen anytime, anywhere. They are the most common cause of workplace injuries (Industrial Safety & Hygiene News), and often result in chronic pain, loss of wages and an impaired quality of life.
The industries with the greatest number of slip and fall accidents on the job include:
§ Private medical and surgical hospitals
§ Local government, elementary or secondary schools
§ Nursing facilities
§ Police/Fire/Corrections organizations
If you’ve been injured in a slip and fall, you may be wondering what you should do immediately after your accident and what, if any, legal recourse is available. The legal team at Whiting Law specializes in slip and fall personal injury cases and can help you understand what to do after a slip and fall, and under what circumstances a slip and fall injury warrants legal action. Whiting’s experienced attorneys will take the time to listen and understand the unique factors surrounding your case, then devise a strong, well-planned legal strategy to get you the compensation you deserve.
Steps to Take After a Slip and Fall Accident
1. Seek Medical Attention: If you’ve been injured in a slip and fall, your first priority should be your health, safety and well-being. If appropriate, seek immediate medical attention from emergency responders after your slip and fall. Whether your accident required treatment from emergency medical providers or not, be sure to follow up with a qualified physician as soon as possible. Your doctor should properly diagnose, carefully document and create a treatment plan for your injuries.
2. Report Your Injury: Whether you were injured at a restaurant, private home, place of business or your workplace, report your injury to the property owner, management or any other responsible party present at the time of your accident.
3. Follow Through: Emergency care or accidents often trigger official documentation protocols, but don’t depend on personnel to report through those channels. Although there may be a protocol in place for injuries, you can’t always depend on those in charge to follow that protocol. So, always notify the management or property owners yourself to be doubly safe.
4. Document Your Injury: Although it may seem you’ll never forget the circumstances surrounding your accident, take time in the immediate aftermath to write down everything you remember about your slip and fall. Note dates, times, medical treatments and other circumstances relating to your accident.
5. Take Photos Immediately: Snap pictures of the area where you were injured with your phone or camera, especially photos that show obstructions or other anomalies. Take pictures from multiple angles and of the entire surrounding area. Do this quickly and before anyone has a chance to clean up or otherwise change the scene of the accident. Taking photos immediately after your accident is especially important if your slip and fall occurred on ice or snow, as weather conditions can quickly change the appearance of the area where you were injured. If you are not able to take photos, send a friend or relative back to the scene as soon as possible and have them take pictures for you.
6. Witnesses: If there were witnesses present at the time of your slip and fall injury accident, write down their names and contact information.
7. Preserve Physical Evidence: Place the clothing and shoes you were wearing at the time of the accident in a safe, clean area separated from other clothing. As an extra precaution, take photos of your shoes and clothing, especially any rips, tears, stains, etc. that were caused by the accident.
8. Keep Talk to a Minimum: Report your injury to the property owner or manager, but don’t give detailed descriptions of your accident to anyone (including employees, business owners, witnesses) as your words can be used against you by the defendant. Do not agree to recorded statements by insurance companies, business owners or anyone else involved in the accident.
9. Be Honest: Don’t minimize or exaggerate what happened. Don’t fall into the trap of downplaying your accident as this can work against you. But it’s important to not exaggerate what happened either because you (mistakenly) believe you’ll increase your odds of fair compensation. Insurance professionals, attorneys and medical professionals hired by the defense will look for inconsistencies and exaggerations, and are trained to spot falsehoods, embellishments or inflated claims.
10. Follow Doctor’s Orders: Follow up with a physician after your accident, document their recommendations and treatment plan and then stick to them. Don’t miss appointments with medical professionals involved in your care or fail to follow their advice.
Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney
After you’ve taken all the appropriate precautions and notes and followed medical advice, contact a qualified personal injury attorney. There’s no sense in delaying this crucial step, as your initial consultation should be free. The best personal injury attorneys will assess the merits of your case while helping you understand your rights.
Finally, when you speak with a personal injury attorney, ask about their experience and success rates with slip and fall cases. Then choose a personal injury attorney who’s not only experienced, but who will treat you with respect.