Falls are the third leading cause of unintentional injury deaths in the United States. Broken bones, internal wounds, brain trauma – these and other fall injuries killed more than 32,000 people in 2014.
Many of these deaths could have been avoided if commercial property owners had performed reasonable maintenance on their premises. Storeowners have a duty to fix injury hazards within a reasonable timeframe and to warn patrons about potential dangers. When a storeowner breaches this duty of care and it results in an injury, he or she may be liable for the victim’s damages.
There are countless reasons why a fall might happen on a commercial property, but most cases involve one of these factors:
- Unstable floorboards;
- Spills and other slipping hazards;
- Torn carpeting, or carpeting with curling edges;
- Cluttered walkways; or
- Potholes in parking lots.
Take These 7 Steps Immediately after a Sip and Fall
Nearly 20 percent of all falls cause a severe injury, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Some victims face exorbitant medical bills; others fall into overwhelming debt because they cannot return to work for several weeks or months after the accident.
If you slip and fall due to the negligence of a commercial property owner, then you may be entitled to compensation for lost income, medical bills and non-economic damages. However, making a successful claim is a legally complicated process. You will have to prove negligence, liability and damages.
Protect your interests by taking these seven steps immediately after a slip and fall accident:
- Call 911 If You Suffered a Severe Injury: Many people choose not to request emergency medical assistance because they fear the expense. However, your top priority after any accident is to seek medical attention. If your claim is successful, then you will be compensation for your health-care bills.
- Record Witnesses’ Contact Information: If you are physically able, speak with eyewitnesses and record their contact details. Their testimonies may be valuable evidence if the at-fault party denies liability.
- File an Incident Report: Notify the store manager about the accident and file an incident report.
- Take Pictures: Your injury lawyer may use photos to prove liability, negligence and damages. Take pictures of your injuries and the hazard that caused them.
- Watch CCTV Camera Footage: If the store has closed-circuit television cameras, then ask to view the footage. Record it with your cell phone, and request a copy.
- Get a Medical Evaluation: A fast diagnosis may improve the outcome of your treatment and shorten your recovery time. Also, your attorney will need your medical records to prove damages.
- Contact a Personal-Injury Attorney: Find an injury lawyer who has successfully litigated premises liability lawsuits.