Accidents are usually not at the front of our minds while we are going about our lives and making memories with our loved ones. However, accidents can occur when we least expect them.
For example, if you or someone close to you trips down a staircase and becomes injured on someone else’s property, there are a few important steps to take in the aftermath. To improve the chances of reaching an optimal result, evaluating the situation through an analytical lens can be imperative.
Falls on stairs are common accidents that result in many injuries every year, some of which are severe and can even lead to death. Some of the most common injuries that people suffer when they call down a staircase may include neck pain, backaches, and traumatic brain injuries.
The first thing to do after falling is to seek immediate medical attention. Taking care of your injuries right away can help protect your health and preserve evidence in the event that you take legal action.
Many people who suffer injuries in a fall are unaware of their legal right to hold the property owner accountable for their damages. Under the law, the parties responsible for both public and private properties — such as parks, buildings, stores, museums, schools, parking lots, homes, and walkways — have a duty to ensure the safety of any people who lawfully visit.
The property owner or manager is responsible for keeping walkways and floors free from clutter, clean, and well-lit.
If they fail to take the proper precautions and someone is injured, they can be held legally responsible for the accident. Below, we list some of the steps that can be important to take if you fall on someone else’s property and incur an injury.
- Seek immediate medical assistance
If you become injured in an accident on someone else’s property, the very first thing that you should do is to seek immediate medical treatment. Slips and falls have the potential to result in serious bodily harm, so you should not delay seeing a doctor.
A medical professional will be able to document your injuries and assess their severity. In addition, the prescriptions and treatments that they recommend for you can serve as valuable evidence when you seek compensation for your injuries.
- Always report the accident
One of the most important things you can do after injuring yourself on someone else’s property is reporting the accident right away to the appropriate party. Depending on where the injury occurred, you should contact a different person. If you are in a store, on a sidewalk, or on public property, you should reach out to a manager or boss.
If the accident happened on private property, such as in someone’s home, you can report it to the homeowner or landlord. Be sure that you get every detail about the accident memorialized in a written document. If someone dies as a result of the accident, even if the death occurs days or months later, documentation from a medical provider can serve as strong evidence in a wrongful death case.
- Document as much as you can
Accidents are one of the most stressful things a person can encounter, both in the moment and in the painful aftermath. It can be even worse when that physical pain is compounded with the financial strain of lost wages and medical bills. To further paint a picture of how the accident happened, be sure to collect the names, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses of any potential eyewitnesses to your fall.
Any statement you receive from an eyewitness can serve as evidence to strengthen a legal claim against the party at fault.
In addition, you should remember to take pictures of the area where you fell, any defects in materials or clutter on stairs, skid marks, icy patches, and your wounds. Make a note of the exact time and date when the accident occurred, as well as exactly where you were standing or walking.
- Stay calm after the accident
After your accident and while you heal, it can be useful to lay low and communicate very little about what occurred. For instance, you may want to avoid posting about your injuries or activities on social media.
Also, and most important, it is recommended that accident victims do not give any statements to the insurance company without explicit approval from a legal professional who is representing them.
- Determine which party may be responsible for the accident
A slip and fall accident generally falls under premises liability law. This means that the property owner or manager can be held responsible for an accident that occurs there, including for the damages that the victim incurs.
However, for the property owner or manager to be held liable, certain criteria must first be established. For example, the property owner would be liable if they knew about the condition or should have known about the condition and failed to remedy it within a reasonable amount of time.
However, in some cases, both the victim and the property owner may have been partially at fault for the accident. Under the doctrine of comparative negligence, courts may reduce the amount of compensation to which a victim is entitled by their percentage of fault. In some jurisdictions, a victim may not be able to recover if they contributed to the accident at all.
How much compensation can a victim expect?
A common question that victims often ask lawyers is: How much compensation may I expect to receive? The answer depends entirely on the damages the victim incurred, including medical bills, lost income, and property damage. Therefore, it is essential to retain every medical bill and other documentation of your losses, because these will be valuable in determining the amount of compensation to which you may be entitled.
Accidents are unexpected and can change the course of a person’s life. Falling down a flight of stairs can cause neck injuries and other serious trauma. While you are fighting to regain your health, let a qualified Philadelphia neck injury lawyer handle the legal aspects for you.