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A slip and fall accident can be scary. It can also have a devastating impact on your life. The question is, after such an accident, what should you do?

Here are the steps to take.

Seek Medical Attention

It’s important to get checked out by a doctor as it ensures you are actually okay. Getting prompt medical care also documents your injuries for your claim.

Follow all your doctor’s treatment instructions carefully after the initial visit too. Things like medications, therapy, medical equipment, and follow-up appointments should be documented. Not getting recommended treatment can negatively impact your case.

Gather Accident Details

While the accident is still fresh in your mind, write down specific details that could become important later. Include things like:

  • The exact location of the fall
  • What caused you to fall
  • Any hazards or dangers that led to the fall
  • The time and date it occurred
  • Weather conditions
  • Lighting conditions
  • What body parts hit the ground
  • What symptoms you experienced afterwards
  • Any witnesses and their contact information

If you fell on someone else’s property, take pictures of what caused the accident if possible. For example, take images of the uneven flooring, slippery spills, cracked steps, or any other dangerous conditions. Just be sure to prioritize your safety and medical care over gathering evidence.

Report the Incident

Reporting slip and fall accidents is important for several reasons:

Creates a Record – Businesses and insurance companies document accidents when they occur. Reporting it helps establish an official record of your side of the story.

Triggers an Investigation – Many companies investigate accidents to understand what happened and prevent future incidents. Your report prompts them to look into the fall and preserve evidence before it changes.

Shows Responsibility – Reporting the incident demonstrates you are trying to handle matters reasonably. This can influence negotiations later.

Preserves Claim Rights – In some cases, there are strict reporting deadlines for injury claims. Notifying the appropriate parties promptly ensures you do not miss these terms.

Exactly who and how to report the accident to depends on where and how it occurred. Common reporting contacts include:

  • For falls on private property – Tell the property owner, manager, or supervisor. Get their contact information or submit the report to wherever they direct you.
  • For falls in public places – Notify the government agency in charge of the location. For example, the parks department for a park fall or the school district for a school fall.
  • For falls causing job-related injuries – Alert your employer and follow their reporting procedures. There are special workers’ compensation rules.
  • For severe falls – Contact the police department to have an officer complete an incident report. But only call 911 if injuries seem life-threatening.

Provide the details gathered about the fall and any resulting injuries. Take notes on who you contacted and when. Confirm the next steps for their investigation process if there are any.

Speak to an Attorney

Consulting a personal injury attorney after a slip and fall is highly recommended. An experienced lawyer can advise you on the strength of your case based on the specific details. They identify who the at-fault parties may realistically be and the options to recover damages.

A lawyer also manages the complicated legal process for you. This includes things like:

  • Communicating with insurance companies
  • Filing necessary paperwork
  • Collecting evidence like medical records
  • Negotiating a just settlement
  • Taking legal action if needed

This legal expertise levels the playing field against big companies and ensures experienced representation fighting for your rights. Pursuing injury claims alone is very difficult and can lead to receiving less than you deserve.

File an Insurance Claim

The at-fault party’s insurance company needs to be notified about your injuries and losses from the fall. This is often the business, property owner, or manager’s commercial general liability (CGL) insurance. For accidents on government property, file a formal notice of claim within strict deadlines.

Track Expenses

As costs related to the fall mount up, stay organized tracking everything accident-related, including:

  • Doctor, hospital, and physical therapy bills
  • Prescriptions and medical equipment
  • Mileage for treatment drives or taxis
  • Lost income from missing work
  • Costs for hiring help around the home if injured

Keeping detailed records ensures all losses get counted when settling your injury claim. Disorganized documentation can lead to numbers getting missed or disqualified.

Hold onto all receipts and make copies of paperwork to submit. Also, track expenses covered by health insurance. Even though you are not directly paying those bills, the at-fault party should reimburse your insurer.

Follow Up on the Investigation

Expect that the liable business or insurance company performs their own investigation into the accident circumstances. They may:

  • Inspect and photograph the accident location
  • Interview you and any witnesses more extensively
  • Request access to medical documents
  • Research conditions and history of the site

Cooperate reasonably with investigative requests but run any questions by your attorney first. Do not sign any documents or recorded statements without your lawyer reviewing them.

You can also follow up for investigation findings that could reveal fault or support your injury claim. Details often surface about prior slip and fall incidents in the same area or complaints filed about the safety hazards.

If the business denies responsibility or alleges you were negligent, your slip and fall attorney will request evidence backing up their defense.

Consider Settlement Offers Carefully

At some point during the claims process, the insurance company presents a settlement offer to resolve your case. This is a legally binding monetary amount agreed upon to cover all accident-related damages and future costs.

Settlements close out the possibility of suing the at-fault party for further compensation down the road. So it’s critical to evaluate offers carefully before signing away all claim rights.

Never accept any settlement within at least a week or two of the initial proposal. It is standard to go back and forth negotiating a higher settlement amount first. Insurance carriers typically start very low hoping injured parties take quick deals.

Review settlements with your lawyer before responding or signing agreements. Discuss whether the amount covers current and expected future losses fairly. Account for expenses like ongoing medical treatment.

If rejecting an offer, provide a written counteroffer listing the reasons it falls short and evidence justifying more compensation. Be prepared for drawn-out negotiations requiring patience and persistence. If talks ultimately reach an impasse, lawsuits become the next step.

Explore Legal Action

Lawsuits are filed against negligent parties as a last resort after settlement attempts stall. These legal claims must show breach of duty, causation, and provable damages to succeed in court.

Breach of duty means the property owner or manager failed to properly maintain safe conditions. Causation ties the hazardous premises to directly causing the accident and injuries. Damages provide evidence of all related negative impacts suffered.

Slip and fall cases fall under premises liability law. Success often depends on the ability to prove:

  • The defendant possessed legal responsibility over the site’s safety
  • They knew or reasonably should have known about the hazards
  • Nothing was done to remedy or warn about the dangers

A lawyer must demonstrate the strength of these key legal elements before advising whether to pursue litigation. Cases also come down to the expected insurance coverage and assets providing funds to collect.

If moving ahead with a lawsuit, the attorney handles all litigation processes like filing paperwork, gathering evidence, questioning witnesses, negotiating with opposing counsel, and representing you in court. Most cases settle before reaching a jury trial but winning in court secures full owed damages.

Get Support Coping with Trauma

Experiencing a sudden fall can be extremely scary and feel traumatic, especially with significant injuries involved. Normal stress reactions include anxiety dwelling on the event, difficulty sleeping fearing another fall, or avoiding places that trigger memories.

Don’t hesitate to seek counseling or join a support group to process fears stemming from the experience. This can help you regain comfort performing everyday activities and restore confidence in going out in public safely. Support aids like canes, walkers, or grab bars may also ease worries.

Coping well emotionally and preventing setbacks in recovery leads to the best well-being outcomes. Letting traumatic associations hold you back only adds further life limitations caused by someone else’s negligence.

Focus on surrounding yourself with people who care about you and understand it was not your fault. Be patient with the legal process and your own healing.

Conclusion

Slip and fall accidents happen unexpectedly but knowing how to respond equips you to handle them.

Seeking prompt medical help, reporting details accurately, retaining an attorney, and methodically tracking expenses safeguard your rights. Investigate liability, negotiate skillfully with insurers, and don’t accept just any settlement offer. Consider all options judiciously before agreeing to close a claim.

About the Author

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Husain Law Firm

Nomaan K. Husain is the founder of Husain Law + Associates — Houston Accident & Injury Lawyers, P.C., a Houston-based law firm specializing in Litigation, Immigration, and Aviation. He is Board Certified in Civil Trial Law and Personal Injury Trial Law, with law licenses in Texas, New York, and other jurisdictions. Mr. Husain serves in key community roles, including as Commissioner on President Biden's White House Commission on Fellowships and Chairman of Houston's Asian American Pacific Islander Advisory Board. He's been recognized with several awards, such as the Global Leader Award from the Houston World Affairs Council.

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