Slip and fall accidents occur frequently in grocery stores and other retail environments where patrons are caught off guard by a dangerous condition of the flooring. Sometimes the flooring itself is unreasonably dangerous (i.e. slippery) leading to a customer fall. On other occasions the flooring itself is not necessarily dangerous, but a spill or other artificial condition causes the danger, and a nasty fall is the result. Regardless of the precise cause, if you are injured in a slip and fall or trip and fall accident you should know what it takes to prove your personal injury case and recover compensation for the injuries and damages you sustain.
Documenting the Dangerous Condition
Among the most important things to keep in mind is that YOU need to take steps to prove your case since the retailer or other business owner is not likely to do that for you. The first, and perhaps most important, step is to document the condition causing your accident as best you can. In today’s world what that usually means is simply taking out your cell phone as soon as you reasonably can after the accident and taking pictures of the flooring in the area of the fall. If the condition is obvious (such as liquid on the floor) it should be photographed in a detailed fashion (up close, at various angles, etc.). Proving the existence of the dangerous condition is the first step, and it sometimes helps to prove the second most important fact: how long the condition was in existence prior to the fall. For example, if the liquid on the floor has tracks or streaks though it, that might help to establish the spill had been on the floor for some period of time. Under California premises liability law, when you are injured by a dangerous condition within a store or other business you must show the condition was in existence long enough that it should have been discovered upon reasonable inspection. This is called the “notice” rule, and it is often a hotly contested part of a premises liability case. Every business owner is obligated to perform regular inspections in order to discover and remedy dangerous conditions. It is important to keep in mind that the most important exception to the “notice” rule is where an employee of the business actually created the dangerous condition. From the moment the employee causes the dangerous condition to exist, notice to the business owner is presumed to exist.
Proving the Injuries and Damages
If you are injured in a slip or trip and fall accident, you should report it as soon as possible to the business owner. This will not only help document the circumstances surrounding the fall (such as the cause), but it can also help prove the fact you were injured. If you’re not sure you were hurt or you don’t know just how seriously you were injured, it is best to report that you are going to seek you own medical care and leave it at that. Injuries, especially to the soft tissues in the neck and back, are often not felt for a day or even days after an accident. If after a fall you think you need medical care and/or evaluation, then you should not hesitate to see a doctor to document the injuries sustained. A delay in treatment is often treated by the insurance industry and defense attorneys as an indication the injuries suffered are either very minor or nonexistent.
Beyond reporting the accident to the business owner and/or seeking medical care, if there were visible injuries sustained in the fall they should be photographed. Injury photos are frequently considered compelling evidence by insurers, defense attorneys and juries. The photos should be taken in lighting that will allow for any skin discoloration to be seen. It may also be a good idea to use a tape measure or some other object in the injury photos to give scale. Injury photos should be safely kept at least until your claim or lawsuit has been resolved.
In addition to physical injuries and medical expenses, if you suffer other economic losses you should make sure all such damages are well documented. For example, if your accident-related injuries lead to time off from work that time should be recorded by both you and your employer. Make sure if you take time off because of your injuries you make it clear to your employer that the fall gave rise to the need for time off to recover. Other economic damages might include the cost of medical devices purchased, other the counter medications, etc., and receipts for these expenses should be obtained and kept until the resolution of the personal injury case.
Contact an Orange County Slip and Fall Attorney
If you or a loved one were injured in a slip or trip and fall accident in a business establishment, seeking the advice of a seasoned personal injury attorney is likely the best first step to take toward obtaining compensation for the injuries and damages suffered. Mr. Ralph has more than 30 years of experience at handling personal injury cases involving slip and fall accidents. His office is centrally located in Orange County for the convenience of his clients. Mr. Ralph’s services are provided on a contingency basis so if there is no recovery there are no fees. He can be reached for a free consultation by calling the number below or simply sending a message with the details of your potential case.