When you walk into a business, you have the right to be safe and walk away unharmed. Every business has a duty to keep its customers safe as they approach, enter, and spend time on their property. Unfortunately, accidents do happen, causing people to be injured on business property. You might slip on a wet floor, trip over cleaning equipment or an untidy floor, or fall on cracked or crumbling pavement. These accidents can result in anything from inconvenient to serious injuries.
Many businesses have insurance policies against accident lawsuits—it’s a common enough occurrence, and personal injury claims are sometimes considered a risk of running a business. If you have been injured on business property, you may be entitled to compensation. After you have been injured at any place of business, from retail stores to office buildings, there are steps you can take to work toward holding the business owner accountable for negligence that lead to your injury. Here are the first five steps you should take after being injured on a business property.
1. Seek Medical Attention
After an accident has occurred, your first priority is to seek the proper medical attention. If you have fallen and are seriously injured, in a lot of pain, and cannot get up, don’t try to move. Instead, stay where you are and call for help. If no one is around, use your cell phone to call a trusted person to come help you or call the front desk of the business for assistance. In the event of a medical emergency, call 911. If you suspect you have injured your neck or back, don’t move or let anyone other than paramedics move you.
Even if you can get up and walk away, don’t make the mistake of not seeking medical attention for minor injuries, especially if you get a headache or feel any lingering pain afterward. Some injuries don’t manifest themselves until later, and a small injury may get worse over time. All victims of a slip and fall accident on a business premises should seek medical attention, even if you can stand up and walk. It will help to get checked out by a doctor anyway just in case an injury is worse than you think and needs treatment to heal.
Sometimes medical attention after an injury at a business property requires more than a one-time visit to the doctor. You might need stitches removed, imaging after the swelling has gone down, a cast placed and removed, or even surgery. Sometimes you might even need ongoing physical therapy or the temporary or long-term use of medical equipment such as a wheelchair. Your first priority after an injury on business property is getting both immediate medical service and longer term care, but make sure to keep the next steps in mind.
2. Collect Evidence
Immediately after a slip and fall accident, and after you have called for the help you need, make sure to document the scene. Take out your smartphone (or ask someone nearby to use theirs) and take pictures of the unsafe conditions that lead to your fall. Look around and assess the environment for signs of negligence. Was there clutter on a staircase? An unexpected step that wasn’t labeled? A wet spot on the floor with no warning sign? Collect as much evidence as you can at the scene of the accident. Additionally, look around for surveillance cameras that may have filmed the accident. After receiving medical care, see if you or your attorney can access that footage.
If you decide to pursue a lawsuit after a preventable injury on business property, more evidence will be collected. But because you cannot recreate the conditions that lead to your injury, it is important to document it as thoroughly as you can right after it occurred. Of course, your first priority is medical care, but once that is attended to, or if you can wait, your next priority is to document the scene.
3. Interview Witnesses
An important piece of evidence is the account given by people who may have witnessed the accident. They can provide an outsider’s perspective of what happened. Witnesses can help back up your story and their accounts may be used to show that you aren’t liable for the accident that caused your injury.
Sometimes, personal injury lawsuits can turn into a game of “he said, she said,” with you telling one version of events, and the property owner telling another. A witness should be an unbiased third party who can back up your story and help you prove that you aren’t lying about what happened. If you are involved in an accident on business property, talk to the people around you who may have seen what happened. Get their contact information and ask them if they happen to have any pictures or video footage of what happened. Again, your priority should be getting medical attention, but if you can, collect information from witnesses. Your attorney may contact them to get a statement if you decide to pursue a lawsuit.
4. Notify the Business Owner
If no one at the business witnessed your accident or knew about it soon after it occurred, find an employee as soon as you can and notify them about what happened. Many businesses have policies that require an official accident report, and the employee will need to ask you questions and fill out the report. Provide as much information as you can, and do not admit fault or go into too much detail about your injuries. Note what the employee tells you and write down his or her name.
5. Find Legal Representation
The next step is to find a lawyer to represent you. Try to find one who focuses on personal injury lawsuits. The business property owner is not automatically held liable for what happened to you, but a lawyer can help you decide if you have a case against them and show you how to file a lawsuit that will hold them accountable. Investigations and legal technicalities are hard to navigate without an experienced personal injury lawyer. A lawyer can help you navigate the system and get the compensation you deserve.
Injured on a Business Property
If you have been injured on a business property, compensation may be awarded to you through filing a legal claim against the property owner. This settlement money will help you pay for lost wages, medical bills, and other expenses that come with a personal injury. These important first steps after an injury occurs will make sure you get a fair settlement.
You can apply here for pre-settlement funding from U.S. Direct Advance.