Injuries in public places are always jarring for the victim. In slip and fall injury cases, the victim is dealing with a certain level of embarrassment, in addition to the unexpected aftermath of their tumble. It’s not as if any of us are trained in how to deal with what happens in the minutes, days, and weeks after an accident that we are injured in.
Unfortunately, this also means that serious mistakes are made in how the accident is handled. It’s worth brushing up on a few of the things to NOT do after an injury, to protect our rights to a claim.
1. Don’t apologize
It’s common to apologize and say we’re okay after a fall. Often, the victim doesn’t even realize that they’ve said it. It’s important to not accept any blame or fault. Be sure you have your facts straight, or don’t say anything at all.
2. Don’t try to rush off
Falling and hurting ourselves is a sure way to gather lots of attention. It’s embarrassing and undignified, and it’s tempting to just leave the scene as soon as possible. Unfortunately, it’s best to stay put while you evaluate the situation. You’ll need to assess your injuries and get more information.
3. Don’t fail to document your surroundings
After you’ve tripped or slipped, you must do your best to preserve all the details of your surroundings. Take photos with your phone of anything that’s related to your fall: puddles, slick spots, uneven tiles or boards, obvious tripping hazards, and other details. Use the photos to show the size and location of the hazards. It’s especially important to note if there was no warning sign on a visible hazard. Without any documentation, you have no proof.
4. Don’t feel shy about talking to witnesses
If you fell in a spot where others witnessed your accident, be sure to get their contact information: names, phone numbers, email addresses. It’s also possible someone may have caught your accident on their phone’s camera. Ask if you can have a copy.
In addition, if you don’t have a phone, or if yours was damaged in the fall, ask if someone else can take photos for you. Be sure to exchange your contact information so that you can get these as soon as possible after the accident.
5. Don’t refuse medical treatment
It’s easy to underestimate the extent of our injuries, when we’re a bit dazed and filled with adrenaline. If you’ve hurt your neck, head, or back, it’s especially important to stay put and let the medical professionals deal with it. In the United States, falls cause 30.5% of all spinal cord injuries. A seemingly minor injury can actually involve disc damage or a possible brain concussion.
6. Don’t fail to notify the management
If you fall at a store or other establishment, you should file a report with the management on duty. Ask for them to fill out an incident report, and review it before you sign anything. Request a copy of the report. At that time, also request copies of any surveillance video that may have been taken at the time of your fall. It’s important to request this promptly, to avoid the possibility that the footage may be discarded after a certain length of time.
7. Don’t neglect your medical follow-ups
If you’re working with an insurance company, they’ll want to be sure that you are treating your injuries seriously. This means going to all physical therapy sessions, doctor’s appointments, and any other treatments that have been prescribed for you. Make sure that you keep copies of all medical bills or invoices, as well.
Injuries from a serious slip and fall accident can take a long time to heal, and it’s important to follow all medical advice. It’s not just about compensation, it’s about your recovery, too.
8. Don’t put off seeking professional help
Dealing with insurance companies and your own recovery can be overwhelming. The advice of a good personal injury attorney can be priceless at a time like this. They are experienced with the processes of claims and knowledgeable about your rights as an accident victim. When you’re not sure about what the next step is, they can guide you, allowing you to focus on things that you can handle yourself – like doctor’s appointments and physical therapy sessions.
Remembering the common mistakes we tend to make after a slip and fall accident can help ensure that we have the best possible outcome for recovery, as well as being compensated for any damages or losses that were a direct result of the injury. There’s no good way to practice for these types of accidents, but it’s always a good idea to review the items that we should never overlook in the aftermath. With the prevalence of slip and fall injuries, it’s not unreasonable to expect that one could happen to a family member or friend in our company, too. Show you care by being prepared.