If you are injured in a slip and fall accident and you are not so injured that you must be transported by ambulance to a hospital, it is generally in you best interest to report the incident and the cause of your accident to the property manager.
What Steps Should I Take Following a Slip and Fall Accident?
If you are involved in a slip and fall accident caused by a wet floor or an object on the ground, there are several steps you can take to help build your premises liability case.
- Seek medical attention
- As always, your health and physical recovery is paramount. If you need to take an ambulance from the scene to the hospital, do it – even if it delays your reporting the incident. Having your injuries diagnosed and documented by a doctor in a timely manner can help establish the damages you will be claiming later.
- Report the incident
- If you are able to remain at the scene, report the incident to the property owner or property manager. When reporting the incident, only provide the details you are comfort with. Items you may want to cover in the report are provided below. Make sure you get a copy of the report.
- Take pictures
- Water can be cleaned up and objects can be moved. Be sure you get photos of the scene as it was when your accident happened. Anytime photo is taken with a cell phone or with a digital camera, a time stamp is included in the file information. This can later be used to demonstrate when the accident occurred.
- Get contact information of any witnesses
- If anyone witnessed the accident, get their names and phone numbers. Their insight can help during the investigation of your accident, and their testimony can help prove your claim to compensation.
- Call an experienced injury attorney
- If you are injured in a premises liability accident, you can be certain that the business where the accident occurred will be hiring a lawyer. You should do the same. Thomas J. Henry has the experience and resources to investigate and prove you claim. Thomas J. Henry also has access to expert witnesses and investigators who can demonstrate how negligence of the property owner contributed to your accident.
What Should I Consider when Filing an Incident Report?
An incident report, also called an accident report, is a formal report recording the facts related to an accident or injury. While you do want report your incident to the property owner or manager, you may want to think twice before putting your signature on any paperwork. Formal reports are admissible in court and signing such a report implies that you are in agreement with all the information presented on the document.
A few things you want to look for when an incident report is presented to you include:
- Is the report in your writing or is it someone else’s account of how the accident happened?
- Does the report accurately detail your accident and injuries?
- Is the manager being pushy or trying to intimidate you into signing the report?
- Could the business be trying to limit their liability for you accident and injuries?
- Are you aware of the full extent of your injuries?
If you have any reservations about signing a report or if you just feel like something is not quite right, withhold your signature and reach out to an attorney. Remember, the property owner’s primary concern is their own financial well-being. Your physical well-being is much lower on the list.
When Can I Sue a Property Owner or Property Manager?
Whether you can sue a property owner depends whether the property owner owed you a duty of care and whether the property owner breached that duty of care. The duty of care owed to you by the property owner depends on your relationship with the property owner. Typically, you as a visitor will fall into one of three categories:
- Licensee: A licensee is a visitor whom the property owner permits expressly or implicitly to be on his property without a contractual relationship or trade of benefits. A houseguest is normally considered a licensee.
- Invitee: An invitee is an individual who visits a property for a reason that benefits both the visitor and the property owner. A common example of an invitee is a shopper visiting a grocery store. In this instance, the shopper benefits from getting groceries and the store benefits from the shopper spending their money. A residential example of an invitee would include a contractor hired by a homeowner to complete repairs on a property. While a transfer of money is common in invitee situations, it is not required.
- Trespasser: A trespasser is a visitor who comes onto a property without permission of the property owner.
Once that is established, your attorney will begin to look at the duty of care owed:
- Duty of Care Owed to Licensees: The property owner is usually only liable for willful or wanton injury to a licensee. This means the property owner must exercise enough care to prevent injury to a visitor who is known to be or could reasonably be expected to be within the range of a dangerous act or condition (i.e. warn the licensee of a known hazard). However, the property owner is not required to inspect the premises or to immediately fix dangerous conditions.
- Duty of Care Owed to Invitees: The property owner must exercise ordinary care to keep the premises safe. This includes protecting invitees from any dangerous conditions the owner knows about or should reasonably know about. The property owner must also inspect the property and must either fix or warn invitees about any dangerous conditions. An example of this is the “Caution: Wet Floor” signs that is commonly used in retail and grocery stores.
- Duty of Care Owed to Trespassers: Because there is now true relationship between a trespasser or property owner, the law is much more lenient when it comes to the duty of care owed by the property owner. The property owner is not required to fix any dangerous conditions nor must the property owner warn trespassers about potential hazards. However, a property owner can be held liable for creating dangerous conditions on his property or making dangers conditions worse in order to catch trespassers.
I Have More Questions About My Slip and Fall Case, What Should I Do?
If you have any questions about your slip and fall accident, contact Thomas J. Henry for a free consultation. Our team of experienced premises liability accident attorneys are available 24/7, nights and weekends to evaluate your claim. Premises liability lawsuits can be complicated, but Thomas J. Henry has decades of experience and the legal resources to develop your case properly and put you in the best position possible to achieve real results. Contact us today.