By: Danny Feldman
It happens all the time—people slip or trip and fall. Fortunately, most of the time, the biggest injury is to the person’s pride because it’s embarrassing to fall down. That said, fall-down injuries can be catastrophic or even deadly. And, very often, a person falls through no fault of their own—namely, they are being careful—but rather, due to the negligence of a premise owner, a defective or dangerous condition exists which causes your fall. So, if you slip or trip and fall, what should you do:
- Get medical treatment – of course, this is the most important thing to do. People who fall down are sometimes so embarrassed at falling that they forgo obtaining medical treatment. If you fall and are hurt, go to the ER or otherwise get treated right away. This is particularly true if you hit your head as a head injury can result in a hemorrhage or other very serious consequences.
- Preserve evidence – this often can be accomplished by taking pictures of where you fell. If you fell on something slick and that substance ended up on your shoes or clothes, you will want to preserve that. Even if you can’t preserve the evidence right away, it should be done as soon as possible—for example, you fall on stairs—you will want to have the rise and run measured to determine if the stairs do or do not meet the applicable building code.
- Report the incident – typically, if you fall at a retail establishment, a manager may want you to sign an Incident Report. Be careful about signing anything that describes what occurred—especially if you aren’t the one doing the recording. But, it is important that you report the fall-down incident to the premise owner or property manager.
- Identify witnesses – if you are with people who saw the incident or, if people come to your aid and advise that they saw you fall, find out their name and contact information. These people could have valuable information, and you don’t want that information to become unavailable because you can no longer identify these people.
- Call a competent personal injury lawyer to represent your interests. Laws governing fall down cases vary by state. Of course, not every fall down incident results in a viable claim, but one good way to transform a claim from being viable to unviable is by not having competent legal counsel representing you.
- Finally—two quick “don’ts” – Don’t make any statements accepting blame or fault for a fall down—especially immediately after the incident. It may turn out that your fall was not due to the premise owner’s negligence, and that is fine—but it is not something you will know right away. And, stay off social media—nothing particularly good will come from you advising the world in a Facebook post about your fall down incident.