The injuries that result from slip and fall or trip and fall accidents can be horrendous. They can include broken femurs, broken hips, fractured arms, broken wrists and hands, traumatic brain injury as well as other bad injuries that result in surgery or long rehabilitation. But although slip and fall cases are extremely common, they are still difficult to pursue, especially here in Michigan.
The laws in Michigan greatly favor the landowner, landlord or property manager when it comes to slip and fall lawsuits. There are a number of defenses they can use, including the “open and obvious” rule, as well as something called comparative negligence.
Given this reality, it is very important to take specific action after getting injured in a slip and fall accident. By taking these steps, an injured person in Detroit, Flint, Grand Rapids, Traverse City of anywhere in between greatly increases the change they can get money for their injuries.
#1: Report the Incident
This is so basic but it’s so important. If a fall occurs at a grocery store, gas station or office building, it’s important to report the fall as soon as possible to a manager or employee who works at the location where the fall occurred. Reporting the injury is important because it provides proof that it actually occurred.
In addition, a jury will feel you believed this was a serious incident if you did report the incident after it happened.
#2: Get the Names and Phone Numbers of Witnesses
Although there is so much going on after a slip and fall accident, it is important to try and get the names and information of any witnesses. This may be your only chance to lock this information down. Once a witness leaves the store or the location of the fall, they usually vanish forever.
A good witness can make all the difference. A good witness can provide an unbiased opinion about why the condition was dangerous and what the defendant property owner did wrong. The witness can also help get over any “notice” defenses by testifying that the dangerous condition had existed in the store or on the property for a long enough time that the dangerous condition should have been removed before you got injured.
Try to get the first and last name, and the telephone number of any witness following a slip-and-fall.
#3: Take Photographs of the Scene
Documenting the condition of the property where you fell can be helpful later on to prove negligence, or liability. Slip and fall accidents in Michigan are different than a car crash. Usually when a car crash occurs, it is easy to assign fault. A person runs a red light or a stop sign, the police come and conduct an investigation and completes a police report that puts the guilty party at-fault.
But slip-and-fall cases are very different. It’s not cut and dry. And just because you fell in an aisleway or inside a store, and injured yourself, does not mean the owner of the property is responsible. In fact, under Michigan law most of the time the property owner is not responsible for many slip-and-fall injuries.
Pictures can help preserve what the condition looked like at the time of the injury and why it was dangerous.
#4: Seek Medical Attention
No matter what, if is important in Michigan to seek medical attention after a slip-and-fall accident occurs. Even if you don’t think the fall was that serious, a medical professional can quickly find hidden dangers that lurk, such as internal bleeding, blood clots or even a fractured bone.
If your doctor is not available, and you don’t want to go the hospital, then even going to a local urgent care is important for your well-being and safety. Again, you don’t want to make a little problem a big problem by failing to seek medical attention following a slip and fall injury.
In addition, by going to the doctor, you are also documenting your injury and showing the severity of the injury to the judge, insurance company and even a jury.
#5: Don’t Give a Statement to the Insurance Company
Whatever you do, do not give a recorded or even a non-recorded statement to the insurance company following your slip-and-fall or trip-and-fall accident. After a fall occurs and the property owner is put on notice about the injury, they will turn the injury claim over to their insurance company to handle. The insurance company will then assign an insurance adjuster, or claims representative, to handle the claim.
Sometimes the insurance adjuster will handle this claim themselves or sometimes they will hire a third-party company to investigate. These companies include organizations such as Sedgwick Claims Services.
Either way, the adjuster is trained to contact the injured person as early as possible – before they have hired a lawyer – to get a recorded statement from them. The insurance company and their lawyers can then use the statements the injured person made against them at a later date.
The recorded statement can mean the difference between getting tens of thousands of dollars for your injuries or not having a case at all.
#6: Call A Lawyer
Because of the dangers of giving a recorded statement, as well as the inherent difficulties in pursuing slip-and-fall cases in Michigan, it is so important to contact an experienced Michigan slip and fall lawyer as quickly as possible after a fall.
The lawyer can answer your questions depending on the situation. The lawyer can let you know if you have a case, and if so, what proper steps to take.
Don’t be afraid to call a lawyer. Most are free to call and don’t change anything until they win the case.
Our law offices have handled slip and fall cases throughout Michigan for more than 40 years. We are experts in Michigan premises law and Michigan slip and fall injury cases. Our team of slip and fall injury lawyers have the compassion and know how to ensure you get justice and compensation for your injuries.
Call our office toll free at 1-800-LEE-FREE (1-800-533-3733) for a free consultation. And as always, we never charge anything until we win your case.