I slipped and fell and it wasn’t my fault. The Defendant automatically needs to pay for my damages, right?
Author: Attorney Jason Macri
Lately, I’m noticing that by the time I get hired to represent someone in a trip and fall or slip and fall case, multiple days, if not multiple weeks, have already gone by. Typically, my client has fallen at a large retail store due to the negligence of the store. The most common reason for the fall is that either water or some other liquid substance has accumulated on the floor, creating a slipping hazard. Other times, the cleaning crew has left a residue on the floor, making the floor extremely slippery and dangerous. Usually, when a person falls in a large retail store, the manager of the store eventually responds to the scene. If the floor is wet, the manager orders an employee to place a caution sign in the area and to mop up the floor. The manager then talks to the person who fell and asks what happened. Sometimes an incident report is created and 911 is called. Other times, nothing at all is done.
Typically, the person who fell is asked to provide contact information to the store manager and is told that they will receive a call from risk management regarding their medical bills. Most people assume at that point that the store is going to help them get medical attention and may even help pay for their bills. A few days pass and no phone calls are made. The injured person calls the store to ask when they will receive a call and is told that they will get a call later that day. Another couple of days pass and still no call. Finally, a person from risk management calls the person who fell and asks a multitude of questions, all of which are being recorded, about the incident. Risk management tells the injured person that they will help pay for some medical bills. They offer $500.00 in exchange for a release. Confused, the person who fell at the store finally realizes that they may want to speak with a lawyer.
Slip and fall victim hires Dell & Schaefer
By this time, days, if not weeks, have already gone by. No investigation has been conducted whatsoever. My client has been writhing in pain, at home, waiting for the phone to ring. During that time, my client has received no medical treatment whatsoever. Bruises have already begun to subside. The clothes my client was wearing at the time they fell – Yes, the clothes with the evidence of the slippery substance on them – have already been washed and the stains from the substance are long gone. Witnesses have already moved out of town and changed their telephone numbers and generally, no evidence has been gathered whatsoever. This is extremely frustrating for me, as the lawyer. Slip and fall cases are already hard enough to prove. Now try proving them with a complete lack of proof!
The single most important factor in proving a slip and fall case is whether the Defendant had notice of the danger condition which caused the fall. It must be proven that the Defendant either knew, or should have known of the dangerous condition before the victim fell. Proving notice is hard enough even after a proper investigation has been done. Proving it without any evidence is next to impossible. Employees for the Defendant are not typically enthusiastic about helping an injured victim prove notice. Most times an employee will not admit that they knew an area was dangerous before you fell in it. They are typically worried that they will lose their jobs if they admit that they knew the floor was slippery but did not do anything about it before you fell. Employees are also worried that they themselves might be sued if they admit that they made this mistake. Nobody wants to lose their job and even worse, nobody wants to be sued. Don’t expect the Defendant’s employees to tell the truth regarding your incident. Typically, they will say whatever they need to say in order to keep their jobs and avoid being sued.
Proving notice is very difficult. Gathering evidence, such as interviewing witnesses and photographing the scene, can help prove notice. For example, let’s say that it can be shown that one of the freezers in the frozen food section has had an ongoing leak. If it can be shown that store employees knew about the existence of the leak but did nothing to correct the problem or to warn customers about the problem, it may be easier to prove that the Defendant knew of a potential dangerous condition and did nothing about it. The only way a person would be able to gather this type of information is through a proper investigation. This investigation must be conducted immediately however. If a person waits 10 days before calling their lawyer, evidence that the Defendant had notice is more than likely gone with the wind.
What should I do if I slipped, tripped or got injured due to the fault of another?
The first thing you must know is that store employees are not looking to help you prove they were negligent. They are not your friends and are not going to keep your best interest in mind. That being said, you must attempt to identify any independent witnesses of your fall. Try and get their names and phone numbers. Next, try and photograph the scene of your fall with your camera-phone. If you are injured, ask for emergency medical attention. Ask for emergency medical technicians to pick you up in the area where you fell. Don’t try to get up on your own if you feel that you cannot do so. You do not want to injure yourself further. After you get medical attention, call a lawyer immediately. Only a lawyer skilled in negligence cases will know how to properly proceed. Call the lawyers at the Law Office of Dell & Schaefer. Our lawyers have decades of experience helping the injured. We are available 24/7 to help you with your claim.