Before a lawyer will file a slip and fall claim on your behalf, several questions must be answered. A variety of factors will determine whether you have a viable slip and fall case that is likely to end in a settlement or court award.
8 Questions a Lawyer Will Ask Before Taking Your Slip and Fall Case
A personal injury lawyer will take your case only after evaluating your answers to the following questions about your slip and fall accident:
- What caused you to fall?
An attorney will need to know about all the circumstances surrounding your accident. You’ll want to be honest and provide as much detail as possible, even if the particulars are hazy or embarrassing. Even details you may not think matter–lighting, distractions, your footwear, your clothing, etc.–all can have an impact on whether the lawyer takes your case and, if so, how your case is handled.
- If the fall occurred due to a slippery substance on the floor, do you have any idea how long it was there prior to your accident?
Spills, leaks, and drips can all create conditions where falls are not just possible, but likely. How the substance came to be on the floor and how long it was there are critical elements to establishing negligence and liability. Be as forthcoming as possible–but don’t speculate. If you know how long it was there, great. If you don’t, that’s OK, too. Also provide any information you can about the condition of the substance itself. Its viscosity, its color, and its location are all important factors for your lawyer to know.
- Where did the fall occur?
Whether your accident occured on a sidewalk, in a grocery store, or on public property can have a bearing on the outcome of a case and the kind of damages you may be entitled to. Be as precise as possible. For example, if it occurred on a sidewalk, was it at a street corner or near a building? Was your fall on private property or property owned by a governmental entity? If it happened at a grocery store, was it in the frozen foods section or in the produce department? These details will help your attorney establish how best to proceed with your case.
- Were there any employees close to the location of the incident?
If the accident occurred in a commercial or public setting, let your lawyer know if there were any employees, managers, or other witnesses nearby. Even if they were nice and helpful after your fall, they could still be responsible for failing to prevent the accident from happening in the first place. Names are great, too, but if you don’t have them, provide as much detail as possible about the people who were in the vicinity at the time you fell.
- Were you given a copy of an incident report?
If you fell on commercial property, it is entirely likely an employee, manager, or owner of the business establishment will have filed an internal report recounting the details of the incident. While it is unlikely they will have voluntarily provided it to you, sometimes they will. Any information you were given after your accident should be provided to your attorney. This information can be used to establish the facts of the case and, in some cases, refute later testimony about what happened. Was there any video survelliance?
- Did anyone actually see you fall (as opposed to just seeing you on the floor after the accident)?
Not all accident witnesses could have prevented you from falling, but they can be helpful in determining what actually happened. For example, if another shopper saw you slip and fall in a grocery store, they might have details you may have missed. Even if the witness is a friend or family member who could be discredited by the negligent party, let your attorney know who they are. Their insight could have a tremendous bearing on the outcome of your case. Did you take pictures or video of the floor where you fell?
- What are your injuries? Do you still have the effects of any of the injuries?
Your attorney will need to know as much detail as possible about the number and extent of your injuries and any lingering effects they may have had or still have. Even if they seem minor to you, don’t leave anything out. Whether it’s bruises, cuts, wrist, hip, ankle or shoulder pain, or broken bones–it all matters. How long were you out of work because of your injuries? Be as descriptive as possible.
- Have you seen any health care providers related to your fall? Any surgery? Any surgery recommended?
Regardless of how you feel following an accident, it is always advisable to seek medical attention as soon as possible. In the moments after a traumatic event, however, it can sometimes be difficult to think clearly. Nevertheless, let your attorney know when you first sought medical attention, what you were told by doctors, and whether any surgery or follow-up procedures were necessary. Surgery related to your fall can increase the value of your claim.
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