If you are hurt at a store, it can feel like a cruel joke. Tort reformers seem to point to slip and falls as fraudulent claims and most lawyers will laugh you out of their offices before you even sit down. But there isn’t a lot of useful information out there for injured people trying to navigate a difficult system. Whether you talk to one lawyer or to ten, there are some things you need to know about making a slip and fall claim.
The reason you may have a hard time hiring a lawyer to take your case really comes down to the way lawsuits work.
If you are making a claim for an injury that happened on someone else’s property, then you have the burden of proof. That makes you the “plaintiff.” That also means that you have to prove each and every aspect of your case before you can recover any money. It is not enough to prove you were hurt – you also have to prove that the store owner knew there was a problem. Usually, that requires you to obtain outside evidence to establish exactly how your injury happened and what the store knew before you were hurt.
As you can imagine, big companies often hire special employees known as “risk managers” who are trained to deal with people making claims against the company that pays them. Sometimes these risk managers will destroy or alter the very evidence you need to prove your case. Or worse yet, they will simply deny you were ever in the store and claim you are making up the whole story. However, there are some simple things you can do to prevent a store from playing games with your slip and fall claim:
Simple Steps for Slip and Fall Victims
- File a report. Even if you do not think you are seriously hurt, it is important to let store management know that you were involved in a fall at the store. Make sure that someone takes down the information and creates a written record. At the very least, it may help the store improve its safety policies and procedures for other guests. However, it may also be the only record you have of being in the store.
- See a doctor. It is important that you seek medical help if you need it. Head injuries can be serious and severe, but may start with nothing more than a headache. After a fall, pay close attention to your health and go see a doctor if you notice any irregular issues like soreness, excessive pain, blurred or fuzzy vision or headaches. If you wait too long to get treatment, the lawyers for the store may later say that the accident could not have been as bad as you say it was because you did not get treatment.
- Don’t sign anything. Sometimes, a store manager will offer you a discount or a small sum of money if you settle your claim. Sometimes an insurance representative will call you after a fall and offer to pay your medical bills, even before you are fully recovered. However, these are not good deeds. The store is looking for one thing – a signed document called a release that will make it impossible to pursue the store later, even if you have a serious injury. Do not sign anything without making sure you are fully recovered and without consulting with a lawyer. If you need someone to evaluate the paperwork you received from a store or business after a slip and fall, we will happily review it for you at no cost.
- Get the tape. One of the reasons experienced lawyers reject slip and fall clients is because there is not enough evidence to prove the case. As lawyers, we have to prove exactly what the store knew (or should have known) before you were injured. If you wait too long to talk to a lawyer, the security footage may be deleted, recorded over or “lost.” Even big companies will delete security footage thirty days after an accident, often making it difficult or impossible to pursue a claim. As soon as we consult with you about your case, we will immediately request the security footage at the store to make sure that we have a record of what happened.
If you have been injured in a slip and fall, make no mistake – the deck is stacked against you.
Over the years, the law has made it harder and harder to pursue these claims, and many of the citizens who may sit on your jury believe that these cases have no merit. Judges dismiss cases on “summary judgment,” a process where the judge decides that there is not enough evidence to even take your case to a jury. But if you play your cards right, document your injury and hire experienced personal injury lawyers to represent you, you can still obtain a fair outcome.
You might have seen other websites that promise big “cash settlements” for slip and falls. But any honest lawyer will tell you that these cases are difficult and there is no promise of a jackpot at the end of your case. But what we can promise is that if you talk to us early, document your claim and are completely honest with us about the facts, we will give you honest answers to some of the hard questions you may have after an injury at a store or business. And we can promise it won’t cost you a penny to talk to a lawyer about your slip and fall claim.
Call us at 713-781-8600 or contact us using our form below. We would be happy to talk to you about your case.