6 Steps to Take After a Slip and Fall Accident in a Grocery Store
Catastrophic injuries are likely the furthest thing from your mind on a routine trip to the grocery store. However, personal injury lawyers in California know that this happens more frequently than one would think. Slip and fall accidents account for more than one million hospital visits nationwide every year. That’s more than 12% of all fall-related injuries in the United States alone.
Knowing how to approach the moments immediately following a slip and fall can play a huge role in your success should you decide to file a claim. Even if the accident has already happened, it is still helpful to know what ground should be covered if necessary.
Injuries that result from slip and fall accidents may vary in seriousness depending on your health, age, and the circumstances causing the fall. It’s important to collect as much information as you can about the elements that caused the accident. While immediate evidence gathering and witness corralling is not always an option for more serious injuries, being aware of a few guidelines can help you better document a potential claim in the future.
1. Seek Immediate Medical Attention
Medical treatment should not be limited to serious injuries. A medical professional is the only person who can assess the true extent of the damage caused by a fall and how to treat it. Further, should you decide to file a personal injury claim against the store, the success of that claim will hinge upon your diligence in receiving care, as your medical treatment and medical records are used to convey the severity of your injuries.
2. Take Note of the Conditions Around You
Even if you can’t make a written note of the area around you, try to determine what caused the accident. In many slip and fall accidents, the property owner, store, or property manager failed to maintain the property in a safe condition for customers and/or guests. Things to note may include:
- Snow and ice
- Loose carpeting
- Spilled food or drink
- Damaged or uneven flooring
- Slippery tile or concrete
Written notes and your mental recollections can also be helpful when discussing a potential claim with a personal injury lawyer in California.
3. Obtain the Contact Information of Witnesses
Collecting the information of witnesses to your accident at the time it occurred is not always possible. However, making note of the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of anyone in the vicinity of the accident is helpful when you can do so. These individuals can speak to the validity of your claims if they are disputed later on.
4. File a Report with the Manager-on-Duty
Most stores have policies in place to report the accident to the store manager or supervisor. While you may not be able to fill out any forms at that moment, try your best to inform the manager-on-duty. Take note of any employee names and statements if they witnessed your report.
5. Take Photographs when Possible
Photographing the accident site as soon as possible is highly advisable. Having photographs of the slip and fall site, especially what you fell on, can make a huge difference if you decide to pursue legal action. If medical treatment takes immediate priority, then try to arrange for someone to photograph the scene of the accident to document the cause of your fall. Less savory grocery store managers and employees could also cover up the evidence of a hazard before you have a chance to prove it. Remember: a picture may be worth a thousand words (or many times over in dollar amounts) when filing a claim.
6. Speak with a California Personal Injury Attorney
In the time period following your slip and fall claim, you may be approached by insurance adjusters and lawyers that represent the grocery store. The most important thing to remember is that these people are not on your side. Their job is to disprove your claims. Do not speak to them. Instead, call an experienced personal injury lawyer.
That doesn’t mean you have to be impolite and uncooperative – it just means that you must be careful with your words. Many grocery store slip and fall accident victims play it safe by speaking with a personal injury attorney in California before making any statements. Keep in mind that your lawyer will be your best ally, guiding you through the legal process and making the best doctors available to you.