Important steps to take after a slip and fall
By John McLeish and Courtney Stewart
You have been injured after a slip and fall – now what? If you have slipped and fallen on someone else’s property due to the negligent care of that property, you may be entitled to compensation under either the Occupier’s Liability Act or the Municipal Act, 2001.
Under the Occupier’s Liability Act, property owners and those having responsibility for and control over the condition of the property are legally responsible for ensuring that the property is reasonably safe for those using it. They must exercise reasonable care in their maintenance and inspection of the property.
Under the Municipal Act, 2001, municipalities are responsible for keeping a highway (which includes a sidewalk) in a reasonable state of repair, unless they could not reasonably have been expected to have known about a state of disrepair or they took reasonable steps to prevent the defect from arising.
Whether pursuing a claim under the Occupier’s Liability Act or the Municipal Act, 2001, slip and fall claims are very fact specific and evidence is required to prove that either the municipality or those in charge of a property did not take reasonable steps to prevent the slip and fall.
While an experienced personal injury lawyer can help you navigate a slip and fall claim, there are steps that you should take in the moments just after a slip and fall to collect valuable evidence.
Your first priority should be obtaining any medical attention you require to respond to your injuries. While your next instinct might not be to take pictures or collect witness information, such actions will help you in a future claim to receive compensation for those injuries.
If you or any companions are able, you should take the following steps:
Photographs of the condition or conditions that caused you to slip – be it spilt milk, uneven pavement, ice patches, etc. – are essential to proving your case.
Many of the circumstances that caused your slip and fall will change within hours, days, or even minutes of your fall. Because of this, it will be extremely helpful to your case if you, or anyone else at the scene with you, can take photographs immediately after your fall. Take close-up photographs of what caused the slip and fall and photographs of the wider scene.
Collect witness information:
Collect the names and contact information of any witnesses to your slip and fall, including anyone who stopped to provide assistance. Witnesses can help substantiate your story later on.
Remember where the fall occurred and surrounding details:
It is very important to know the location of your slip and fall. If you fall on the street or sidewalk take note of the nearest property’s address. Also take note of details such as the level of lighting in the area, signs warning of potential hazards and whether there are any security cameras in the vicinity.
Preserve your footwear:
The footwear you were wearing at the time of the incident will be an important piece of evidence during a slip and fall claim. It is important to keep and preserve your footwear. Try to avoid wearing your footwear again in order to preserve the condition they were in at the time of the slip and fall. You should also take photographs of the shoes from multiple angles, especially the soles.
Provide notice if necessary:
If you slip and fall on municipal property, the Municipal Act, 2001 states that you may not start a claim against a municipality unless you provide notice of the slip and fall to the municipality within 10 days of the fall. If you are not sure whether or not you fell on municipal property you should contact the municipality to clarify.
If you do not provide notice within 10 days you can still start a legal claim against a municipality if you have a reasonable excuse for not providing notice and if the municipality will not be prejudiced by the late notice.
If you or someone you love has suffered a serious injury as the result of a slip and fall, contact one of the critical injury lawyers at McLeish Orlando LLP for a free consultation.