Common mistakes made in a slip and fall case
Trip or slip and fall cases can cause serious injuries, and this may seem obvious. However, when it comes to a legal claim, these can be some of the most difficult cases to prove under the law in Washington state.
In order to prevail on a claim like this, you have to establish that the landowner has a duty to you to prevent you from falling. This most commonly occurs when an injured person is at a place of business. In that scenario, business owners are only liable if they know of a condition and it involves an unreasonable risk of harm, expect that a patron will not discover or realize the danger, and then fail to exercise reasonable care to protect the patron from the danger. Generally, there is no duty to protect a patron from dangers that are open and obvious.
If you are in the unfortunate situation of sustaining injuries at a place of business, here are some do’s and don’ts:
- Make sure to notify the store manager or land owner of the incident and make sure they fill out an incident report. Don’t assume that somebody saw it and will fill out an incident report for you.
- Get the names and contact information of any witnesses who saw what happened. Don’t assume the business owner will do this for you.
- Take several photos of the condition that caused the fall. This is critical to do immediately, as the condition can change rapidly following an incident like this.
- Seek medical attention immediately. It is human nature for people to feel embarrassed and to downplay any symptoms at the scene or later because they do not want to draw attention to themselves. But if you are hurt, get help.
- Follow up with the business owner, in writing, asking for a copy of the incident report, any witness statements, and a copy of any video surveillance that may have captured the incident. Request in writing that they preserve and do not destroy any of the materials regarding the incident.
If you have been hurt in a slip and fall or trip and fall incident and are confused on what steps to take, or are not sure if you have a claim worth pursuing, it is always a good idea to consult with an attorney and get some advice on next steps. Being proactive is the best way to protect yourself.