Injured in a Store: What to Do Next
By Space Coast Daily // January 5, 2021
Every business has an obligation to ensure their public areas are free of hazards so customers can feel confident that they will be safe while visiting the business. However, accidents still happen. Too often, they are the result of employee negligence, poor training, or understaffing that ends up not allowing employees to respond to hazards promptly.
Unfortunately, stores are some of the most common places where slip and fall accidents often take place. When this type of accident results in a customer’s serious injuries, they have a right to try to seek compensation. These steps can help you pursue a more successful personal injury claim against a business owner.
Report the Accident Immediately
As soon after your accident as possible, be sure to report the incident to the store owner. While you should not accept an immediate settlement offer, reporting the accident will give you a means of officially documenting the accident with the business.
This is an important first step. When accident victims delay reporting the incident, insurance companies use that delay to suggest the victim is fabricating their story. Making the property owner aware of the accident immediately will help verify your claim later when insurance companies get involved in a claim process.
Obtain Proof of the Accident
Another important action to take as soon as possible is to try to identify witnesses to the accident. If there are any witnesses, be sure to collect their names and contact information.
Take pictures of the area in which the accident occurred. Often, a slip and fall accident is the result of a wet or damaged floor. Be sure to take pictures of the ice, water, or damage before it can be cleaned up as this will help you corroborate your story.
Get a Copy of the Report
In some situations, the police may respond to an accident or the commercial property owner may have a form of their own for reporting accidents. In either case, it can work in your favor to write out a statement that describes the incident from your perspective. This helps you get your version of events in the official report, which the insurance company will refer to in completing their investigation.
Additionally, be sure to obtain a copy of the report for yourself. This will help you and your attorney verify facts throughout the claim filing process.
Obtain a Medical Evaluation
People often put off a medical evaluation after being involved in an accident of any type, claiming that they feel fine. Delaying a comprehensive checkup can harm you physically and financially.
In the physical sense, many injuries don’t exhibit noticeable symptoms until they worsen and become more difficult to treat. Traumatic brain injuries and spine injuries are common examples of injuries that should be diagnosed and treated as soon as possible.
Secondly, delaying treatment can harm your injury claim, leaving you responsible for paying all or most of your treatment costs. When you delay a medical evaluation, the courts may view this as an attempt to give your injuries time to worsen.
Some people do this in the hopes of filing a larger claim. As a result, almost every state has laws regarding contributory negligence, which allows some of the negligence to be placed on the plaintiff.
If you are found partially negligent, the amount you can claim will be reduced. For example, if you’re found to be 30% negligent on a $100,000 claim, the most you can receive is $70,000. Even if you’re awarded that full $70,000, your attorney’s fees and court costs will further bring that amount down.
Even though you may have a solid claim against a store owner, it’s in your best interests to consult a personal injury lawyer before filing your claim.
An experienced attorney can review your claim and help you deal with insurance companies. Whether they negotiate a fairer settlement for you or prepare a stronger strategy for your civil lawsuit, a personal injury attorney can help you obtain a more favorable outcome.