Gathering Evidence After a Slip and Fall
From unstable ladders to wet bathroom floors, slip and fall hazards are everywhere. For some, falls might not seem that horrible — falling at a restaurant or store is embarrassing, sure, but how bad can a fall really be? However, slip and falls can cause serious injuries.
- Annually, falls account for about 8 million hospital room visits, making falls the leading cause of hospital visits
- Half of all accidental deaths that occur at home are the result of a fall
- Slip and falls are the leading cause of workers’ compensation claims
- Falls account for 16% of workplace fatalities
What is a Slip and Fall?
The term slip and fall is somewhat self-explanatory. If you slip, trip, fall, or otherwise injure yourself on someone else’s property, it is a slip and fall case. Often, these accidents are the result of improper maintenance or a lack of safety precautions. Common causes of slips or falls include uneven sidewalks, badly marked staircases or steps, and foreign substances on a floor, like a spilled drink, or during the winter season, even snow or ice. Injuries can occur anywhere, but during the holiday season, they are most likely to happen at a store or other business establishment.
Here are some examples of Slip and Fall accidents:
- A patron at a fast-food restaurant who slips after another patron spills soda on the floor
- A hotel guest who trips after getting their foot caught on a rug in the lobby
- A jogger who trips over an uneven sidewalk in a city park
While it’s easy to explain the term and come up with examples, the process that follows is anything but simple. Florida Statutes requires an injured person to “prove that the business establishment had actual or constructive knowledge of the dangerous condition and should have taken action to remedy it.” This is easier said than done. If a person falls on a slippery floor, for example, they may need immediate care. Once they leave the scene, the store owner may clear away any evidence of the accident. They may even deny that it ever happened. This is an unfortunate reality of premise liability cases.
What You Can Do – Gather Evidence
The issue of where the slip and fall accident occurred can also complicate liability. If it occurred on government property, like a state park, holding someone liable can be incredibly difficult. This is because the government receives protection due to broad immunity provisions. Liability for an accident that occurs on residential or commercial property, on the other hand, is generally easier to determine, although certain complexities still arise.
Due to this issue, it’s critical to gather evidence at the scene. If you can, take pictures of the surrounding area. You should also take pictures of your injuries. If you are too badly injured to take the pictures yourself, ask someone else, like a friend who is with you or even a bystander, to do it for you. Getting medical attention is obviously important, but if you want to pursue a slip and fall case, the evidence is very important, too.
If there are witnesses to your accident, get their names and numbers. If necessary, they may be able to back up your claims later. When there is little evidence, a slip and fall case quickly becomes a “your word against theirs” scenario. This is why witnesses are vital.
Holding Someone Liable
Remember, after an injury on someone else’s property, you must prove that either
- A property owner should have recognized the dangerous condition and removed or repaired the potential danger but did not
- A property owner actually caused the dangerous condition
Even when the culprit of a slip and fall accident is obvious, holding someone liable can still be a challenge. This is why it is important to have an experienced personal injury attorney on your side during a slip and fall case, as they will understand the nuances of your specific incident.
When a slip and fall causes a serious injury, it can mean chronic pain, costly treatment, and lost wages. So stay alert, watch your step, and always keep an eye out for even the smallest dangers.
This can be complicated, but with quick-acting, winning a slip and fall case is not impossible.
The attorneys at Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes represent those involved in car accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and other types of personal injury matters. Our firm is one of the oldest personal injury law firms in Tampa Bay. There are no attorneys’ fees or costs unless we prevail for you. Call our office 24 hours a day at 727-796-8282 or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.