Proving Slip-and-Fall Claims
According to the National Safety Council, slip-and-falls are responsible approximately 8.9 million visits to the emergency department each year in the United States. Slip-and-falls can cause devastating injuries such as broken or fractured bones, neck and spine injuries, traumatic brain injuries, and even death. Yet, despite the catastrophic injuries that occur daily, the Florida Legislature recently changed the law regarding what must be proven to obtain compensation for a slip-and-fall accident. This change has made it more difficult to obtain justice for your serious injuries. According to the new law, to obtain compensation for a slip-and-fall in a business establishment such as a supermarket, you must now prove that the store had “notice” of the dangerous condition. What that means is that you must show that the business owner either knew (“actual knowledge”), or should have known (“constructive knowledge”), of the dangerous condition.
“Actual knowledge” generally means that a store employee either caused the dangerous condition or saw it before the accident occurred. However, most cases involve proving that the store should have known about the dangerous condition. There are several ways to prove liability based on “constructive knowledge.” For example, if you can prove that a store employee was in a position where he/she could see the condition on the floor at the time of the incident. Or, if you can prove that the condition was on the floor for a period of time where the condition should have been discovered.
If you are injured in a slip-and-fall accident, you will need to have the proper evidence to prevail. After a slip-and-fall accident, it is important that you:
1) Report the incident to the store manager immediately. Make sure that an incident report is created. Request a copy of the incident report.
2) Obtain medical assistance if needed.
3) Take photographs and/or video of the area where the accident occurred. Many times, a store employee will clean the area immediately after a fall before it can be photographed. It is extremely important that the dangerous condition is photographed so it can be used as evidence.
4) Take down the names of any employees who were around the area where the incident occurred or responded to the scene. Take down the names and contact information of any witnesses.
It is very important to hire an attorney immediately after a slip-and-fall occurs. The store and/or its insurance company will likely start contacting you to try and get you to settle. They are not on your side. They want to close their file as quickly and as cheaply as possible. An experienced attorney knows how retail stores try to get out of paying claims. For example, if a surveillance video is not favorable to a store, they will not preserve it. Without sending an immediate evidence preservation demand, crucial evidence may be lost.
If you or a loved one has been injured due to a slip-and-fall, contact Englander Peebles today. They will fight to ensure that your rights are protected.