Slip, Trip, and Fall Claims – 10 Tips to Protect Your Rights:
The legal duty owed by a store to its customers, is that the store will exercise reasonable care in the maintenance, inspection, and repair of their premises and will detect and warn its customers of any dangerous conditions on the premises.
As it pertains to “transitory or foreign substances” (i.e. something on the floor that doesn’t belong there), the law places the burden on the injured person to prove that the store owner/manager had “actual or constructive” knowledge of the transitory substance. In other words, the injured person must prove that the store owner, management, or employees, knew or should have known that the transitory substance was on the floor.
So, if you are unfortunate enough to slip, trip, or fall on something in a business establishment (store, office, restaurant etc), there are some steps you can take to protect your rights and preserve evidence.
- Don’t give a written or recorded statement to the store management. Most of the time the establishments will not want to give you a copy. But if you do, make sure to get a copy.
- Look to see what you slipped on and take photos.
- If the substance gets on your clothes, take photos and do not wash the substance off your clothes.
- Make sure that anyone who is with you looks at, and examines, the substance.
- Get the names and phone numbers of all customers who witnessed the incident.
- Get the names of all store employees who were in the area, and all management on duty at the time.
- Look to see if there are any video cameras in operation for the area of your fall. You or your attorney will want to put the store on immediate written notice to save all video, film, etc. of the incident. This MUST be done before they decide to get rid of it.
- If you feel you are injured, you should have someone call 911. This is to protect you from any hidden injuries and to document that you were injured at the store. Have the ambulance take you to the emergency room if needed, or go with a friend or family member.
- Don’t give a statement, by phone, in person, or otherwise, to anyone from the store or its insurance company; e.g. Do not answer any questions even as simple as “how are you doing”. Just politely tell them you don’t care to talk with them right now.
- Follow up with an appropriate health care provider. Doing so will help document your injury and make it more difficult for the store or its insurance company to claim you were injured later on and somewhere else.
Last but far from least, ask around for an attorney who is knowledgeable and experienced in this area of the law. There are things that need to be done right away to protect you. Remember, the store and its insurance company started working on your case the minute you fell. You should too!!