People slip, trip and fall at businesses, condominiums, hospitals, and schools every day across the country. In fact, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), slips, trips, and falls cause 15% of all accidental deaths, second only to motor vehicles as a cause of fatalities.
Not all slip and fall accidents are viable legal claims- because the law requires that in order to hold a property owner or business responsible for one’s fall- the owner has to be negligent in the manner in which they inspect, maintain or repair their property. In other words, simply slipping and falling at a business is not enough- to have a claim. One has to first prove that the property owner or business operator is at fault (or at least partially, ie some percentage) at fault for the accident.
To do this, the claimant needs to know or somehow find out- what caused the fall. It is not uncommon for our lawyers to investigate a slip and fall claim- and when speaking to our potential client- they have no idea how, or why they fell. Often times, they simply wake up in an ambulance or after having surgery with little to no recollection a to what occurred in the moments before their fall.
NUMBER 1- GET WITNESSES NAMES AND ADDRESSES
This is why, whenever possible we recommend that you get the names of any potential witnesses to your fall- some if not most people do not want to get involved- they are afraid they will be dragged into a lawsuit – and they are right. But if you don’t get the information- (telephone number, addresses, and at least the names) of witnesses you will have to rely on the store’s employees- who will most likely tow the company line for fear of losing their job- especially if the employee was the person responsible for cleaning and maintaining the floor in the first place.
NUMBER 2- DETERMINE CAUSE OF THE FALL
Secondly, do the best you can to figure out what caused you to fall. Was the floor wet, was there a substance on the floor that felt sticky or had a particular smell. Try to take photos of the scene at the time or return to the scene if possible. Take some notes to remind your elf of the details, names, or other clues that might later help you and your trip and fall lawyers piece together the facts of your case.
NUMBER 3- STAY CONSISTENT
Thirdly, remember that how you describe the accident to the paramedics, emergency room nurses and doctors will be used in your case- most likely against you if there are any inconsistencies. It is very common for defense lawyers to argue that there is “no liability” in a case if one medical recorded contradicts another with how, when, where and why an accident occurred.
We have also seen cases lost at trial when an accident is described as a slip instead of a trip or vice a versa. This seemingly inconsequential difference in how an accident occurred and will be used against you later on in your claim. Even when in some cases there is a combination of a slip and trip that caused the fall. Bottom line, be very clear and consistent and honest in your description.
NUMBER 4- ASSUME THERE IS CCTV
One must assume there are CCTV (closed circuit television) recordings of the incident. Gone are the days where a person can claim to have had an accident in a major department store, supermarket, restaurant or bar- that does not have CCTV of the entire event. Businesses routinely use the CCTV to defend against frivolous and fraudulent claims- beware.
NUMBER 5- HIRE AN EXPERIENCED SLIP AND FALL LAWYER
If you have suffered a slip and fall or trip and fall accident at a Florida business or home we recommend that you consult with experienced slip and fall lawyers who know and understand Florida’s premise liability laws and have the passion to represent you and protect your legal rights. Finding the right lawyer to represent you is probably one of the most important decisions you will ever make.
Our Miami personal injury law firm have over 30 years of combined legal experience representing people and their families who have been hurt at businesses across the State of Florida. Let our years of experience help you hold a careless property or business owner accountable if they failed to properly maintain their premises in a safe condition. Contact our office today at 1-866-5974529 or by email at [email protected].