When you slip and fall, or trip and fall, on someone else’s property, you may try to shake it off as no big deal. The truth is, slip and fall accidents can cause serious injuries. And it was probably not your fault. Many people fall because a store did not clean up a spill, or a homeowner failed to shovel their sidewalk. In Colorado, property owners have a duty to keep their property reasonably safe. This legal concept is known as premises liability, and it’s one of the reasons people and businesses carry property insurance.
If you are injured, you need to know what steps you should take to protect yourself and any potential claim you may have against the property owner. Here are five steps you can take after you have a slip and fall accident:
- See a doctor. This is the most important step. Even if you think your injuries are minor, you should go to a doctor for a thorough exam. Some injuries do not fully manifest right away. For example, you may not think you have a concussion because you did not lose consciousness, but that is not a requirement for a minor concussion. You may think your back is only sore from bruising, but you could have swelling along your spine due to a serious spinal injury. You may not notice whiplash from your fall for a full day. Don’t try to self-diagnose. Take care of yourself and see a doctor.
- Document what happened. Write down what you remember happening as soon as you can. If writing is difficult, most phones allow you to make a voice recording.
- Take photographs. If you are able, document the scene where your accident took place. Even a few pictures on your phone can help your case when the insurance company tries to claim the accident was your fault.
- Report the accident. If you are in a public place, like a business, report the accident to the manager. Some businesses have accident forms for you to fill out. The form puts your accident on the record. Take notes of your conversation.
- Talk to witnesses. If someone saw you fall or saw you right after you fell, get their name, phone number and address if you are able. They may be able to corroborate your explanation of the conditions at the time and place you fell.
A premises liability claim is usually against the owner’s insurance company, not the owner personally. If you do pursue a premises liability claim, you will be glad you took these steps to document your accident.