If you have never tripped and fallen, consider yourself lucky. Slip-and-fall incidents occur more frequently than you might expect. According to the National Safety Council, falls represent one of the leading causes of accident-related deaths in the United States and cause serious physical injuries, including bone fractures and head injuries, in one out of every five cases. Suddenly crashing to the ground may cause you to be dazed and disoriented, particularly if you suffer a serious injury. Let’s look at three factors you should take note of to protect your claim for damages against the party responsible for the condition that caused you to fall.
Condition of floors and other surfaces
It may not be possible to do it yourself, but photographs are essential to your slip and fall case. Pictures of the floor, sidewalk or other surfaces can be used as evidence in a claim against the property owner. The images could highlight a hazardous condition they created or knew about and failed to correct.
Hazards abound on floors, sidewalks, parking lots and other areas where people walk. Some of the common surface conditions that could cause someone to fall include:
- Floors left wet following mopping without posting cones or other warnings
- Use of the wrong type of wax or not adequately buffing floors after applying wax
- Allowing water to accumulate on floor surfaces at building entrances during inclement weather
- Loose or missing tiles and floorboards
- Torn carpeting or loose area rugs
- Broken stairs or loose handrails
- Uneven, cracked or broken sidewalks
- Potholes in parking lots
- Floors, sidewalks and walkways cluttered with debris, tools, equipment and wiring
Floor displays in retail stores may pose a tripping hazard when they extend into aisles where customers walk. Produce, leaking bottles, and other substances spilling onto the floor in supermarkets can someone to slip and fall on them.
Preserving evidence of your accident scene
Photographs of your fall location can become essential evidence if the owner disputes the existence of a dangerous condition. Florida places the burden on the injured party to prove that the owner knew about the conditions causing a fall and failed to remedy it. A photo not only proves the existence of the condition but could help establish the owner’s knowledge of the situation. It can also be used to show that an owner exercising ordinary care should have known it existed.
In addition to taking pictures of the fall location, you should also report the accident to someone in charge. If you cannot find anyone in charge, such as a store manager, contact the police and file a report.
Shoes and Blaming the victim
It might not seem fair to blame the victim for causing the slip and fall accident, but what you wear could be a factor. For example, wearing long clothing that gets underfoot may cause a person to trip and fall. Shoes with soles that are slippery may also be a factor in causing an accident.
Attorneys representing the property owner routinely ask to see and inspect the shoes you wore when you were injured. The demand for production might not happen for some time, so it’s crucial to any evidence. Preserve the clothing and shoes worn during your slip and fall in a bag and providing to your lawyer.
The tactic of trying to place some of the responsibility for an accident on the victim may not seem fair, but it is permissible under Florida law. State law allows the court or jurors in a personal injury case to take into consideration evidence of contributory fault on the part of the victim.
For instance, let’s say that the property owner claims the shoes you wore contributed to the accident. Your compensation could be reduced by the percentage of fault the judge or jurors decide resulted from the slippery shoes. Preserving the shoes allows your attorney to use them as evidence to refute claims of contributory fault.
Understanding the circumstances of slip and fall accidents
Location conditions and clothing do not represent the only factors that come into play when determining who was at fault. Your recollection of what occurred and witnesses statements are ways a personal injury lawyer can prove how you fell and whether someone else is at fault.
Signs warning of wet surfaces or alerting you to keep out of specific areas may be used to diminish your claim for damages. You must pay attention as you walk, including not talking or texting on a cellphone. Additionally, walking instead of running and being aware of your surroundings where you fall can assist your personal injury lawyer when pursuing a claim for damages.
If you’re hurt in a slip and fall accident it’s important to understand the factors that can impact your case. An experienced attorney will carefully evaluate the circumstances, preserve evidence and secure supporting data. Don’t leave your slip and fall injury recovery to chance. Contact us for a complimentary case evaluation today.