Earlier this year, $414,868 was awarded to a Costco shopper who slipped on a puddle of liquid soap and shattered her knee. The case made headlines not because of the circumstances – slip and fall accidents are the third leading cause of injury to customers and employees in the United States — but because the award was high for a slip and fall case, which usually pays out $60,000 to $100,000.
Slip and fall cases are very difficult to prove, since you need to show that the defendant knew or should have known about the danger, but didn’t take reasonable precautions. Since businesses typically deny responsibility, how you handle yourself right after a fall can make all the difference:
- Put your embarrassment aside. This is no time for denying that you are hurt. Call for help, and make sure that the owner or manager knows that you have been injured. Have them call an ambulance if you need one
- Look around. What caused the fall? Did you slip on a liquid or trip on something? Are there footprints that aren’t yours near the spill? In the Costco case, the shopper’s lawyer had evidence that a number of employees had walked past the spill before she fell and didn’t stop to clean it up
- Take pictures. Use your cell phone to take pictures of the spill and the surrounding area. Placing a dollar bill next to a spill will show the size of it. Since most large stores now have hidden surveillance, see if you can get a copy of the tape showing your fall
- Get contact information for witnesses. If anyone saw you, get their names and phone numbers. Get the names of any employees who assisted you and of the one who cleaned up the mess
- Write it all down. As soon as possible, write down everything you remember about the accident. In your deposition, you will be asked what the walking surface was like, what you were doing when you fell, how you fell, how you landed and other relevant questions
One of the most important steps to take right after a slip and fall is to call an experienced personal injury lawyer right away. The lawyers in our office know the proper strategy to take when it comes to these types of cases.