Ask a Philadelphia Personal Injury Lawyer: What to Do After a Serious Slip and Fall Accident
Slip and fall accidents are an unfortunate fact of life. In the home, at work, while shopping, while walking down the street – there is no place you couldn’t suffer a slip and fall accident. According to federal data, there were 240,160 slip and fall accidents during 2018 in the workplace alone. Overall, slip and fall accidents account for more than 1 million emergency room visits, with fractures being the most common slip and fall injury suffered. Floors and flooring materials are a factor in more than 2 million fall injuries every year.
No one really knows how many total slip and fall injuries occur every year, as many people don’t consider themselves badly hurt and simply go on about their lives, neither seeking medical attention nor reporting the fall. But after a serious slip and fall accident -- such as the ones that result in fractures or more serious injuries – you need to take major steps to watch out for your best interests, including consulting with a Philadelphia slip and fall lawyer as soon as you can.
There Are Some Things You Should Do After a Slip and Fall Accident Resulting in Injury
If you slip and fall and believe that the conditions that led to your fall were the result of someone’s negligence, you need to take steps to protect your rights. However, that doesn’t mean that you should ignore your own health. The first thing you should do is seek medical treatment as soon as possible, especially if your injuries are severe. If you are able to stay at the scene of the accident, here are some of the things you should do:
If you are able to safely do so, take pictures of the scene. Take as many as you can, from as many angles as you can. You might not get another chance to record the scene as it was when the accident happened. This is especially true for temporary conditions like snow and ice. It can also be true for things like water or food left on a store’s floor, which may be cleaned up shortly after the incident is reported. Once that evidence is changed or removed, the opportunity to take a photo is lost.
Focus on what you believe caused your fall – a foreign object on the floor, a broken tile, grease on the floor, snow, ice, or whatever it might have been, and get photographic evidence. It will matter later.
Call 911 for assistance
Contact 911 if you require emergency medical assistance. EMTs will document the date, time, and location of where you were injured. They may also record helpful information confirming that you fell on a hazardous condition, such as ice or a wet floor.
Occasionally, police may also respond to an emergency scene. If police do arrive to help, they may also document the incident and record the names of any witnesses.
Report the incident
Report your fall accident to the property owner, property manager, or whoever the appropriate party might be, depending upon where you are. It might be a landlord, a store manager, a homeowner, or a government official if you fell on public property, but it is often wise to let them know what happened to you. If you do not report the fall, later the defendant may challenge that the incident ever happened.
If the store or premises has an accident report form you can fill it out. It is usually best to provide limited, simple, direct information. At a minimum be sure to identify what caused you to fall.
If they don’t have a form consider writing down your name, the date and time of the incident, and confirm that you fell on the property and if you were hurt. Provide to this property owner, manager, or whoever else may be in charge and keep a copy. If you don’t have anything to write on you can ask for an email address of fax number, to which a report can later be sent.
It is extremely important that if you provide information at the scene to report a fall incident you stick to the facts and do not speculate or admit fault. Give a brief, truthful, and accurate account of what occurred.
Ask for a copy of any incident report. If they don't provide you with a copy consider taking a photo of it with your phone after providing your information. This may also give you a chance to correct any errors made by the person who is recording the information.
Identify potential witnesses
If possible, identify any witnesses who may be willing to give you their contact information. Often, people will stop to help someone who is injured in fall. Politely ask for the witness's name and phone number. Another alternative is to ask to make sure the witness's information is recorded on the incident report.
Listen to information about the fall hazard
If you can – this is a long shot, especially if you are injured – see if anyone discusses how long the condition that caused your fall was present before your accident. This might not occur, but at times people will make statements about a dangerous condition. Listen for any statements made by anyone in the area that may be helpful in proving how long something was there. This can include statements made by store employees or property owners.
Do not give a recorded statement to an insurance company
No matter what else you do, do NOT give a recorded statement to anyone associated with the property owner or the property owner's insurance company beyond your initial written accident report. Insurance companies will often contact an injured person shortly after an accident and invariably will try to ask for a recorded statement. Often these questions may include questions that would otherwise not be permitted in the context of an actual lawsuit. Without an attorney to screen the questions to make sure they are appropriate, it is best to avoid giving these types of recorded statements.
Record what happened
At times it can be helpful to take detailed notes if no incident report is available. If you are concerned about forgetting information about the fall, record all the details you can. This can include the names of anyone you interacted with or reported the incident to. It can include the names and contact information of witnesses. It is a good idea to record time and date, the cause of the fall in as much detail as you can, the weather conditions at the time, and anything else you can remember about the incident, even if you think it won’t matter. Write it down.
However, keep in mind that if a lawsuit is ever filed in the case this information may be requested by the defense. Be careful not to guess or speculate in your written notes, and do not admit fault. When in doubt, speak to an accident lawyer right away.
Seek medical treatment
The most important thing is your health and safety. Seeking immediate medical treatment is essential if you have been injured in a fall. Whether you go to an emergency room or urgent care center or immediately make an appointment with your family doctor, prompt medical care is necessary to diagnose your injuries and to start treatment.
Once you have started treatment, follow through with your doctor's plan of care. Do not miss or delay any medical appointments and keep records of all your medical appointments.
Contact an experienced Philadelphia slip and fall attorney
Finally, consult with a Philadelphia personal injury attorney as soon as you can. A slip and fall lawyer can help guide you through the process of putting a defendant on notice and documenting the incident and your injuries.
There are time limits in certain fall cases, so speaking to an attorney as soon as possible is important. Certain defendants, like cities or government-funded agencies, have special protections under the law. Written notice to these types of defendants must be given within six (6) months of the fall under Pennsylvania law.
If You Have Been Injured, Call a Philadelphia Slip and Fall Lawyer Today
If you have suffered injuries in a slip and fall accident in the Philadelphia area, you should obtain professional advice to ensure you receive the compensation you are entitled to. The attorneys of Mattiacci Law, LLC, can assist you in protecting your rights after any type of injury-causing incident. You can reach a Philadelphia slip and fall attorney at (215) 709-7915 or through our website.
Mattiacci Law, LLC is a personal injury law firm helping clients in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Our team of award-winning accident lawyers strive to get the best possible recovery for our clients. Contact our firm today to discuss your potential claims. The initial consultation is always completely free.