When you go to the doctor’s office, a restaurant, or a grocery store, the last thing you are thinking about is leaving with an injury you did not arrive with. Property owners are required to exercise a proper duty of care to those who are visiting their premises to conduct business.
Duty of care means should a property owner be aware of a hazard that can cause a slip and fall accident, they must take immediate steps to resolve the issue. They must act in the same manner that a reasonable person would act given the same set of facts. For example, if a grocery store employee spills liquid in an aisle and fails to clean it up as soon as possible or fails to post to sign indicating that there is a wet floor posing a slip and fall danger, this is not reasonable. Nor is it reasonable to allow the railing of a staircase to loosen, or the carpeting on its stairs to wear away and develop holes that can catch a shoe heel. If you fell and injured yourself in such a situation, you may have a legal case. For more specific information about your accident contact Abels & Annes to speak with a skilled slip and fall accident attorney today.
5 Steps to File a Claim
Regardless of how the accident occurred, there are instances where you need to understand the process of filing a slip and fall claim in Illinois. There are specific steps to take, including:
Step One: Notifying the property owner – Immediately notify either the property owner or property manager if you are injured in a building, driveway, or sidewalk.
Step Two: Document everything – You will want to carefully document anything that appears to be pertinent. First, take photographs when possible, make notes about the conditions that caused you to fall.
Step Three: Collect contact information – If there were any witnesses to the incident, you should collect their names and contact information. This will be important should you need to prove the conditions in the building, what you were doing at the time of the fall, or prove there were no warning signs.
Step Four: Seek medical attention – If you’ve been injured, even if you believe the injuries are not too serious, you should seek medical attention after a slip and fall. This is important, because the fall itself can be frightening; in such an event, your body will flood with adrenaline, which can mask injuries.
Step Five: Contact a premises liability attorney – Even if you do not believe you have a serious injury, it’s wise to contact an attorney who has experience dealing with slip and fall accidents. The sooner the better. Depending on the situation, sometimes a lawyer might want to visit the scene of the accident, or have an architect inspect, before a dangerous condition has been repaired by the property owner or manager.
Contact a Slip and Fall Attorney
Once you have notified the property owner or manager, they will likely contact their insurance agent. This means one of the first telephone calls you will likely get is from the insurance adjuster. Remember, their job is to protect their client, the insurance company. They might ask you a host of questions, including, “How are you feeling?”
Their goal is to minimize the potential amount of claim they might pay. Never try to negotiate with an insurer on your own; a skilled premises liability attorney will work out the details of a final settlement when they have all the information they need, and will know how to prevent an insurer from taking advantage of you.
Slip and Fall Accident Claim Values
Every accident is different. When you start with that premise, you will understand that there is no one-size-fits-all calculator that can tell you how much you may be able to collect after a slip and fall accident. Some of the factors that will play a role in determining how much you can collect in damages include:
- Extent of your injuries – Cuts and bruises are painful and can lead to an infection. However, a broken hip can cost you time from work, require surgery, and require follow-up care for rehabilitation purposes.
- Lost time from work – If your injuries are serious enough to warrant losing time from work, your claim can increase. If you suffer merely from cuts and bruises and need to take a day or two off for medical care, you would be losing time from work to attend doctor visits. However you could lose months of work if, for example, you had to undergo surgery to repair a fractured ankle.
- Pain and suffering – Some slip and fall accidents can cause long-term pain, particularly with more significant injuries. Pain and suffering may be included in your settlement discussions.
- Loss of enjoyment – If your injuries cause you to miss out on family vacations, birthday parties, etc. these are considered non-monetary damages and you may be able to make a claim.
Continue Recording Changes After a Slip and Fall Accident
You may think once you have contacted an attorney who has begun negotiating with an insurer, or has filed a lawsuit on your behalf, that you do not have to be concerned about changes in your physical or mental condition. Never assume that changes are irrelevant, even if negotiations have started, or you have a scheduled court date. Record any changes in your medical condition, your physical abilities, or your mental state as they can be used to strengthen your claim for damages.
For those who have suffered a serious injury, such as a broken hip, back, or neck injuries, or a concussion after a slip and fall, physical changes often take place over time. Not all reactions are going to appear within 24 to 48 hours of an accident occurring. You should keep track of any doctor visits you make, changes to your normal routine as a result of your injuries, and the wages you are losing when you are recovering from your injuries or attending physician visits. Provide this information to your slip and fall lawyer who can maintain a complete record.
Slipping and falling in a place you believed to be safe is scary, and you probably do not understand what rights you have under Illinois law. You need to focus on recovering physically from any injuries you are suffering. When you contact an Illinois personal injury attorney, you can focus on getting healthy while they focus on getting you the compensation you deserve for your injuries.