You should consider contacting an attorney if you are injured due to an injury at a place of business. There may be monetary compensation that you are eligible for. These types of cases are called slip-and-fall. It is possible that you are not at fault for the injury.
When you contact an attorney, he or she can review the case details, decide if it is viable, and help you to figure out how to proceed with a claim if you decide to do so.
You should definitely ask for witness statements after you experience a slip-and-fall injury. A witness statement, which is a summary of evidence by a witness for a trial or a claim, is important because it puts a witness’ statement into a formal document and in some jurisdictions can be presented as testimony in a trial.
An attorney will specifically prepare a witness statement for a legal proceeding to document the testimonials. If possible, you should try to get the witness statements directly afterward, but you may need to contact witnesses later on.
If possible, secure at least two to three witnesses who were in the area when the accident occurred. Different witnesses can view things differently, so having two people see the same thing is valuable.
Various studies have been conducted showing that eyewitness testimony can be inaccurate and that witnesses can remember details, facts, and events incorrectly.
Testimony from two or more people whose versions of events are identical or very similar can be of great help to a claim. Furthermore, it will be harder for the defense to disprove or challenge the testimony of multiple witnesses.
According to the Quad-City Times, in January of 2010, Brenda Alcala was staying at the Courtyard by Marriott Bettendorf in Bettendorf, IA when she slipped and fell on an icy sidewalk that was on the property. She sued the hotel and its managing company, citing extreme injuries, loss of wages and chronic pain.
Her attorney secured two witnesses from Chicago who had stayed in the hotel at that time and noticed the icy sidewalk. They testified that they avoided the sidewalk due to its iciness. Ultimately, the jury awarded Ms. Alcala $1.2 Million for her injuries.
If no witnesses are around, there are certain things that should be done to document your accident and injuries.
- Inform the management immediately of the accident and fill out an accident report detailing the accident and your injuries.
- Take photographs of the area and the hazard. This should be done even if there are witnesses. Most people have cell phone cameras, but if you do not, invest in a small camera. Try to print copies of the photographs for attorneys and to keep with an accident report.
- Contact the police and file a police report when they arrive.
Contacting an attorney immediately after an injury is crucial. There are a few reasons why:
- The establishment will have less time to create a defense
- Witnesses will be easy to obtain and will have fresh memories of the incident
- Injuries can be tied to the accident easier
Most importantly, however, is the statute of limitations (SOL). The SOL is the time period you legally have to file a claim. You may be forever banned from filing this claim if the SOL expires. The SOL is different in every state.
Nonetheless, if you have been injured in a slip and fall accident, you should contact an attorney immediately to see if you have a case.