I Slipped and Fell At A Business, What Should I Do?
William Bill Hurst -Your Indianapolis Personal Injury Lawyer
These types of cases (“premises liability”) are some of the most difficult to argue before a judge and jury. They are difficult for several reasons: first it is often hard to prove the facts of the case (how long was the puddle of water you slipped on actually there?); also, the Defendant’s lawyers will often try to portray you, the victim, as either clumsy or imperceptive (he/she should have seen the puddle!). The reality of the situation is that businesses typically have a legal duty to you as soon as you step foot upon their property. As a customer in a business, you are considered a “business invitee.” The store/property owner owes you a duty to use “reasonable care” to keep the premises in a safe condition for the use which you (the customer) are invited to make of it. In other words, if you enter the premises with the intention of using it for its “business purpose” (e.g. to shop) and do use it for that purpose, the owner owes you a duty to make sure its premises are in a safe condition. To do so, the store or property owner must occasionally inspect the premises for any dangers and eliminate them. In recent years the Indiana courts have made it increasingly difficult for injured persons to win slip and fall cases. For example in Schulz v The Kroger Company, a customer slipped and fell on an unknown liquid in a Kroger. The Court ruled that dismissing a slip and fall case is appropriate when the evidence shows that store employees had been to the site of the fall ten minutes prior to the fall and they did not observe any substance on the floor. In other words, the injured person must show the store had a reasonable length of time to find and eliminate the hazard. This is almost impossible to do in most cases.
What to do in the Event of an Accident
After suffering a slip and fall you should immediately contact any store employees that are around. Make sure the employee or the manager creates notes on the incident and takes down a statement from you about what happened. Many stores require employees to complete “Incident Reports” in such situations, but it is important to make sure that the employee is doing his/her job and complete one. Request a copy if any report that is made, also try to get information regarding the store policy for cleaning spills and monitoring for hazards. A good idea is to try speaking to employees that are not in management, they might be more willing to give you information. Whether the employees speak to you or not, make sure that you get their contact information.
Next you should speak to any witnesses that were at or near the location of the fall and get their contact information so that you or your investigator can contact them. Specifically, find out if any of the people you talk with noticed the hazard on the floor, and if so, when they noticed it. Some cell phones have recording devices on them. Use your phone to record any statements by employees or witnesses. As soon as you are able you should also take your own notes while everything is fresh in your mind. Note important statements, witness information, existence of surveillance cameras, etc.
Most cell phones nowadays also have cameras. You should use your phone to take pictures of the accident scene. Photograph anything that is important such as the substance on the ground, area of the fall, any signs or lack of signs in the area and surveillance cameras. If the manager refuses to give you a copy of the incident report, ask to take a picture of it.
If you require treatment, go to the doctor or hospital immediately. In order to prevail on a slip and fall case you must have an injury requiring treatment and seek treatment. If your doctor recommends continued treatment (e.g. physical therapy), then do it. When your doctor recommends treatment, seek that treatment immediately, even if it seems expensive. The quicker and more accurately you follow your doctor’s instructions, the more likely you will be to have a successful case.
Seek Help from an Experienced Attorney
Speak to an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Slip and fall cases require a quick and experienced legal response in order to preserve any evidence and help present your case in the best light possible. If you are injured because someone else did not maintain their property, you should call a lawyer experienced in dealing with these issues. Visit the offices of William “Bill” Hurst. Our attorneys are experienced at helping injured people receive the financial compensation they need after their slip trip or fall injuries. Contact the slip trip and fall attorneys at the Indianapolis law office of William “Bill” Hurst or call us toll free at 1(800)636-0808 for a free consultation. ¡Hablamos Español!