The 5 Things to Do after a Slip and Fall Accident
Florida law allows slip and fall victims to sue and recover damages for their injuries. Unfortunately, many slip and fall victims unwittingly take steps in the immediate aftermath of their accident that harm their potential case. Follow these 5 steps so you do not kill your slip and call claim.
What Are Florida's Premises Liability Laws?It might seem harmless at first—slipping and falling—but slip and fall accidents are very serious and costly. Whether it’s a wet floor or a broken handrail, thousands of Floridians are hurt every year because they slip on a substance or trip over an object that should not have been there in the first place.
Property owners, property managers, and businesses in Florida are legally required to keep their property safe for visitors, customers, and guests. When they fail to do so and you are injured as a result, a court can hold them liable for any injuries caused by their negligence.
Florida’s premises liability law (F.S. §768.0755) specifically allows people who have been injured from slipping, tripping, or falling at a place of business or residence to sue for damages. However, Florida law also places the burden on the injured party to prove the negligence of the property owner or business.
The statute requires that a person who slips and falls on a “transitory foreign substance” must prove that the business had:
1) Actual or constructive knowledge of the dangerous condition, and
2) Should have done something to fix it.
Circumstantial evidence can be used to prove constructive knowledge, and to do that, you or your slip and fall lawyer can show that:
1) The dangerous condition existed for long enough that the business would have known of the condition had it been exercising ordinary care, or
2) The dangerous condition occurred regularly and was foreseeable.
Critically, it's unlikely that businesses will fail to fix a hazardous situation about which they have actual knowledge. This means that most slip and fall cases rely on proving constructive knowledge—i.e. the business or owner should have known about the dangerous condition.
Why Are Slip and Fall Cases Tricky?As the terminology in the statute suggests, most slip and fall cases are caused by “transitory” substances, meaning the condition can often be cleaned up, repaired, or replaced quite easily if an accident occurs. In fact, without insinuating any malice on the part of the businesses or property owners, you would expect them to take immediate steps to remedy the issue after someone had slipped and fallen on the premises so that no one else is injured.
Unfortunately, the success of your slip and fall case rests on proving the existence of the dangerous condition and that it caused your accident, which is nearly impossible if said condition is fixed by the owner before you can document it.
So, if you’ve slipped and fallen at a business, office building, grocery store, or bulk supply store, here are the five steps you can take to help your slip and fall lawyer build the strongest possible case on your behalf.
Step 1: Call 911If you have been seriously injured in your slip and fall (and often even if you aren’t), call emergency services immediately. This will ensure both that you receive prompt medical treatment for your injuries and that the injury scene is properly documented by the police, including the existence of the substance, item, or circumstance that led to the fall.
Step 2: Document EverythingYou need to document as much as possible: the scene, your outfit, and your receipt.
Take pictures of the area where you fell (floor, stairs, curb, etc.). Be sure you include any substances or items that caused you to slip—remember, they will be cleaned up, removed, or repaired once you leave.
Take pictures of your clothes and shoes, including the soles of your shoes. Put these items aside and do not wash them. The insurance company will try to claim a lack of tread, loose shoelaces, too-long pants, etc. contributed to your fall in order to offset their client’s comparative liability.
Take a picture of your receipt or invoice to prove that you were at the business in question and that you were patronizing the business (i.e. were there for legitimate purposes). Questioning the reason that a victim was on the property is a common defense businesses make.
Step 3: Inform the Owner or BusinessLet the owner or manager of the business or property owner know about the accident. Ask them to write up an accident report and request a copy. Do not give a statement for the accident report unless a copy of the report will be given to you.
Step 4: Gather Witness Names and InformationIf possible, get the names and contact information of anyone who saw your accident. These eyewitness accounts could be valuable later to prove that your version of events is true.
Step 5: Seek Medical AttentionIf you weren’t seriously injured and didn’t call 911 for you’re your injuries, you should always seek medical care after a slip and fall accident. Slip and falls are the leading cause of traumatic brain injuries according to the CDC, which may not manifest immediately. Waiting to see a physician could result in you aggravating an injury.
Surprise Step 6: Call a LawyerThe final step is to seek out the help of a trusted and qualified legal representative to handle your slip and fall case. The property owner or business and their insurance company will have experts on their side to protect them, and so should you. Plus, you have been injured and should be focusing on recovery not fielding calls and negotiating with insurance companies.