What Are The Top 5 Things I Can Do To Maximize My Compensation After A Slip-And-Fall Accident In California?

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Matthew D. Easton - Personal Injury - General - Super Lawyers

Answered by: Matthew D. Easton

Located in Costa Mesa, CAEaston & Easton, LLP

Phone: 714-850-4590
Fax: 714-850-1978

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1. Report The Fall And Ask For An Incident Report

After a slip and fall on someone else’s property, it’s important that you report the accident to the appropriate party before leaving the scene. If you’re in a retail store when you fall, report the accident to the store manager or property owner. If you’re on a hotel property or other location, be sure to report the accident to a manager. One of the biggest mistakes that people make is leaving the scene of a slip and fall without reporting it. If you don’t report the accident at the scene, the property owner may claim that your injuries are not due to any dangerous conditions on the property.

When you report the accident, ask for an incident report. Your attorney can use the incident report as evidence in your personal injury claim.

2. Document The Dangerous Property Conditions And Preserve Evidence

Store managers and property owners have been known to clear away dangerous property conditions after a fall and act as though there were no dangers at all. For example, spilled liquid in a grocery store could easily be removed, and a slippery-when-wet sign could easily be placed in the vicinity even though a sign wasn’t there when you fell.

By documenting the scene with pictures and statements from witnesses, you can take important steps to protect your right to the maximum available compensation. Depending on the facts of the case, your attorney may also be able to obtain surveillance video of the scene where the incident happened.

Your shoes could also be an important piece of evidence. One strategy used by insurance companies to minimize or deny compensation to an injury victim is to say that the fall happened because of the victim’s shoelaces or broken shoes. If you suffer injuries in a fall on someone else’s property, be sure to preserve your shoes, perhaps placing them in a plastic bag, so the insurance company can’t claim that your shoes caused your fall.

3. Get Prompt Medical Treatment For Your Injuries

Without medical documentation of your injury, you will not have a strong claim for compensation. To ensure that you receive the maximum available compensation for your medical bills, lost work time and other costs, get medical attention as soon as possible after a slip-and-fall accident. Not only is medical documentation extremely important for your personal injury claim; you should see a doctor or go to the emergency room to ensure that you are properly diagnosed and treated. You should seek medical attention even if you think your injury is minor.

In many cases, what people initially believe are minor injuries turn out to be much worse in the days, weeks and months after a slip and fall.  However, if the injured party waits to get medical treatment, the property owner will usually argue that the claimed injuries are not related to the slip-and-fall accident due to the delay in treatment. Consequently, it is very important that you seek medical treatment promptly after any slip-and-fall accident.

4. Talk To A Personal Injury Lawyer Before Giving A Statement To The Insurance Company

The insurance company is not on your side after a slip-and-fall accident. Insurance companies are in business to make a profit – not necessarily to pay out the full amount of compensation you’re entitled to. The questions the insurance adjuster will ask you are designed to minimize your compensation or deny it altogether. To avoid misstatements or accidentally downplaying your injury, let a personal injury lawyer handle all communications with the insurer. An experienced lawyer can take steps to protect your rights and interests and negotiate with the insurance company to maximize your compensation.

Do not accept the insurance company’s initial settlement offer before you speak with an attorney. Insurance companies typically offer lowball settlements that fail to account for all the future medical expenses and other costs resulting from a slip and fall. An experienced attorney can account for the full cost of your injury and help you get the full and fair compensation you need.

5. Follow Your Doctor’s Orders And Avoid Gaps In Medical Treatment

“Gaps” in medical treatment are one of the most common tools used by insurance companies to devalue personal injury claims of all types. If you stop going to medical appointments for your injury, the insurance company will likely claim that you no longer need compensation for any medical treatment that resumes after the “gap” in treatment. Meanwhile, your injury could continue to worsen, and you may lose your right to the compensation you need for medical costs.

If you are unsure of how and where to get proper medical care, an experienced attorney can help you find an appropriate medical provider. At our law firm, we have personnel specifically dedicated to check-in with clients routinely to help ensure that they are getting the medical treatment they require and avoid allowing any “gaps” in medical treatment that could devalue their case.

After a slip-and-fall accident, your main concern should be your recovery, so let a legal professional handle everything else while you tend to your health and your family.

Disclaimer: The answer is intended to be for informational purposes only. It should not be relied on as legal advice, nor construed as a form of attorney-client relationship.

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