I’VE HAD A SLIP AND FALL… WHAT SHOULD I DO NOW? Written by: Jose Francisco – Miami Injury Attorney Under Florida law, property owners have a responsibility to ensure that things on their property do not cause harm to visitors. For example, a supermarket owner has a duty to make sure that the aisles are free of tripping hazards and liquids. Likewise, a homeowner has a responsibility to make sure that conditions on his property, both inside and outside the home, are not a danger to guests. If a danger is present, it must be clearly marked to prevent harm to visitors. For example, if a store has broken stairs, signs should be placed to warn customers. Similarly, if a floor is wet, from either an accidental spill or due to mopping, signs must be posted to warn visitors of the condition. Basically, except in cases of trespassing, property owners are liable for injuries that occur due to preventable hazards on their premises. This may be true even if a property owner is not specifically aware that the hazard exists. As attorneys, we may be able to prove in court that the owner “should have known” of the dangerous condition. If you are involved in an accident on someone’s property, keep the following things in mind: 1. Look at your surroundings and try to determine what caused you to fall. Sometimes a property owner will deny that a hazard exists. Therefore, it is important to look around and see what the hazard might have been. For example, was it a liquid that made you slip? If so, does the liquid appear to be dirty as if it had been sitting on the floor for a while? How large an area does the spill take up? Is it an object on the floor that caused you to trip? What is the object? In a supermarket setting, is it food on the floor that caused your fall? In the case of a piece of fruit, does it appear that the fruit is rotten and decomposing? 2. If possible, try to determine where the substance came from. For example, there may have been water leaking from a air conditioner or refrigeration unit. In a supermarket, liquid could be dripping from a broken bottle on a shelf. It is important to show that the substance was on the floor for an extended period of time, because it indicates that management of the store had knowledge and ample opportunity to clean up or place warning signs before the fall. 3. Take pictures. If you have a cell phone that takes pictures, take some photos of whatever was on the floor or in the vicinity that you believe caused the fall. If you do not have a cell phone that takes pictures, ask someone nearby to take a picture. If you are in a supermarket, they most likely sell disposable cameras that can be used for this purpose. 4. Don’t try and get up on your own. Call out for help and wait for assistance from store personnel. After store employees approach you to help, try and remember any statements they may make that can be used later to imply liability. For instance,
statements such as, "I was supposed to clean that up" or â€œThis has happened before,â€? can help establish that the store management knew that a problem existed. 5. Make sure the incident is reported to the store manager. If you leave the store without advising the manager, they may later argue that you never had a fall on the property. 6. Try to obtain a copy of the incident report prepared by the manager. Usually, following a fall, a manager will fill out an incident report to provide to the insurance company. You should provide only limited information to the manager, including only what caused you to fall. However, do not discuss with the manager specifically what you think your injuries are. Instead, simply state that you are hurt and that you would like them to call emergency services. Remember that everything you tell the store employees could be used against you later. Also, do not sign off on the incident report if asked. However, you should ask if you can have a copy of the report even though it is likely that they will not give it to you. 7. Get the names, addresses and telephone numbers of any witnesses who may have seen you fall. It is important to get the names, addresses and phone numbers of any witnesses and employees who may have seen you fall. 8. Seek medical assistance immediately following your fall. After a fall, even though you may not feel injured at the time, there may be medical issues of which you are not aware. You may wake up the next morning with pain that you did not have immediately following the fall. It is even possible that symptoms of an injury will not arise for several days after a fall. Therefore, the sooner you seek medical assistance the better. Additionally, if you do delay in seeking treatment, the business could use that as a defense and argue that you were never really injured in the first place. 9. Call the Law Offices of Jose M. Francisco. Florida law can be a minefield to the non-attorney. Therefore, following an injury, you should contact an experienced Florida attorney to protect your rights, preferably at the Law Offices of Jose M. Francisco. If we accept your case, we will move quickly to preserve evidence. We will begin our investigation immediately, including having someone visit the site to photograph what caused the fall, trying to obtain any security videos, placing the owner or person in charge of the property on notice so they will not make changes to the area without taking photographs. Most importantly, we will move quickly to determine if there is available insurance that may pay some, if not all, of your medical expenses. If you do not contact qualified Florida attorneys after your injury, you may end up paying for lost wages, medical bills, long-term treatment, and other property costs out of your own pocket. Even with insurance money, you could only end up getting a fraction of the assistance you are entitled to under law. This can affect your recovery and your finances for years to come. After an injury that was caused by someone else, you could end up heavily in debt or unable to work through no fault of your own.