Immediate Steps to Take Following a Slip & Fall Accident

By Anthony A. Ferrante, Esq.

1. Take Photographs

In today’s world where everyone has a smartphone within a moment’s grasp, the first thing that anybody should do following a fall is to take as many photographs as possible.  Take photos of the floor or sidewalk where you fell, photos of your clothes, photos of your injuries, photos of any store employees who come and help you, photos of any reports that you make. In short, take photos of everything.  These types of photographs taken immediately following an accident are really the best evidence you could ever have to prove that there was some kind of a defective or dangerous condition that caused your fall.

Yes, we understand that the last thing on your mind after you fall is “Let me get some pictures.”  But that doesn’t change their importance.  Even if you can’t get them immediately, photos a short time following the fall are better than no photos at all. And if you can’t take pictures of the accident scene, take pictures of your injuries.  Any bruises, cuts or scrapes will help to prove that your injuries were related to the fall.

2. Report the Accident

Report your slip and fall accident as soon as possible.  If your fall happens in a big box store or a local grocery, seek out the manager and make a report.  If you are in a residential apartment building, seek out the superintendent or the management office.  If you are walking outside on a sidewalk next to a big building you can try to make a report with the building (which may not be as simple, but is worth trying).

Keep your statements simple.  “I slipped and fell on water.”  “I tripped and fell over your boxes.”

Another way to create a report of your accident is by calling an ambulance.  The ambulance personnel will respond to the scene and document the time, location and circumstances of your fall while also taking care of your medical needs.

Many falls are un-witnessed, and defendants love to use that fact to argue that a claimant is fabricating the fall or your injuries.  Reporting your accident creates hard evidence contemporaneous with the accident that can become very helpful throughout a case.

3. Get Medical Attention

Get medical attention, immediate medical attention, whether that means calling an ambulance, walking into a First Med or walk-in clinic, walking into an emergency room, going to your primary care physician, or going to your orthopedist. Whatever it is, getting to a doctor as soon as possible is of the utmost importance.

And the reason for this is two-fold. Number one, you are injured and need to get it checked out. If it is something more serious such as a broken bone, you should decide on a treatment plan (i.e. setting the bone in a cast, having surgery) as soon as possible. Immediate care is just as important where your injuries are not as obvious, often called “soft tissue” injuries, which can sometimes be even more problematic over time.

Secondly, aside from the obvious benefits of having your injuries treated, seeking immediate medical care benefits your case.  It is important to document your complaints to help establish something called “causation,” which means that your injuries are directly related to the fall.  This is because a defendant and their insurance company will always try to say that your injuries are unrelated, pre-existing and degenerative.  They try to paint all plaintiff’s as someone trying to capitalize and win the “lawsuit lottery.” A disturbing idea indeed and something that can be disproven with contemporaneous and consistent proof of your injuries.

4. Preserve Evidence

Keep those ripped pants!  Save the broken heels!  Don’t wash those soap stained pants!  This type of physical evidence can go a long way towards proving your claim.  A pair of soap stained pants can help prove your case against a landlord for mopping without using appropriate warning signs. Those broken heels can help show that the small hole in the sidewalk or on the staircase was the type of “trap” or “snare” that supports a case under our law.

5. Avoid Insurance Companies

Insurance companies are in the business of making money.  They hire and train their claims adjusters to help them do just that.  This means that when that pleasant adjuster calls you following your fall, she is not really concerned about you or your well-being.  She is just trying to figure out how to best prevent your fall from costing her employer money.

These adjusters will politely ask you to answer “just a few questions” and ask if it is OK to “record the conversation.”  It all seems so harmless, but the truth is that this type of recorded statement will do absolutely nothing to benefit you.  The sole purpose is to undermine your potential claim.  Don’t fall for it.  Our law doesn’t require that you give a statement, so don’t. Your lawyer would never allow it, neither should you.