Slip and Fall Cases: When You Do Not Have a Case

15 Mar

We handle many slip and fall cases, particularly slip and fall cases that occur in supermarkets and other stores. I have written about many of these cases in an effort to educate people about successful slip and fall cases. This morning, we received a call from a woman who slipped and fell in a store and wanted to know if she had a case. After speaking with her, it occurred to me that it might be worthwhile writing an article about what is not a case.

The Fact Pattern of a Slip and Fall that Is Not a Negligence Case

A woman called today to ask about a slip and fall she suffered. She was in a big box store on Monday, March 12 when she slipped and fell. This morning (Thursday), she felt some pain in her legs and wanted to know if she could sue the store.

I asked first about her health and she said she had some soreness in her leg and was having some difficulty walking. When I asked about the medical care she had received, she revealed that she had not seen a doctor yet. I urged her to see a doctor as soon as possible to receive the treatment that she needed for her leg.

When I asked what caused her to slip and fall, she said, “I’m not sure, some water was there.” I asked if she had spoken to the store manager or any store employees. She said, “No.”

We were confronted with the following facts:

  • The woman was not sure what had caused her to fall.
  • The woman had not reported the incident to the store management or personnel.
  • Four days later, the woman had still not received any health care treatment.

Based on that information, I told the woman that she did not appear to have grounds to pursue a negligence case.

Conditions Needed to Support a Slip and Fall Case in a Supermarket or Store

Let’s look a little closer at the facts of this incident to see what creates grounds for a negligence case. Keep in mind that all negligence cases require a person to show that someone else’s negligence led to an incident that caused injuries and damage to an individual.

1. You need to know the cause of the slip and fall: To pursue a slip and fall negligence case, you need to know what caused the slip and fall. Many of my clients have slipped and fallen on puddles of water or spilled liquids. To win a case, we need to show that the store caused the dangerous situation, could have prevented it or could have warned customers about it.

If you do not know what caused you to slip and fall, then you cannot to prove negligence.

2. You need to notify the store manager or store personnel about the incident: It is best if immediately after an incident, you notify store employees. I have handled cases where my client was still on the ground when the manager came. It is important to tell the store personnel so they can record that the incident happened and see the circumstances. Often times, store personnel will apologize, offer to help and explain the source of the puddle or other problem. Store employees can also offer assistance and call for an ambulance or other medical help.

If you do not notify store personnel immediately, then you should return as soon as possible after the incident to speak with the store manager. The caller today had allowed four days to pass without notifying store personnel and that is too long a time unless there are exceptional circumstances.

In investigating a claim, an insurance company will first ask to see the incident report. If there is no incident report, the insurance company will assume that the incident did not happen. We can overcome the lack of an incident report, but it makes settlement talks and a trial that much more difficult.

3. You need to receive immediate medical attention: In the strongest cases, clients go from the store to the hospital in an ambulance, but that is not necessary. Some people drive to the hospital or a doctor’s office. Some go home and then go to the doctor later that day or the next day. There are two issues here. First, above all else, it is important to get the medical treatment that you need. Second, to build a case, you need to document medical treatment and a connection between the slip and fall incident and that medical treatment.

In this case, the woman had gone four days without contacting a doctor and was calling a lawyer first. It is always more important to contact your doctor first.

We successfully earn compensation for many people who have suffered injuries in slip and falls in supermarkets and other stores. We work hard to earn our clients the most compensation possible, but we can only do so when evidence of a case exists. The three key elements of a successful case are:

  • Knowing what caused the slip and fall
  • Timely notice to the store personnel
  • Medical treatment as soon after the incident as possible

I hope you found this information helpful. If you or a loved one has been hurt in a slip and fall, you may want to consult a New York personal injury attorney experienced with slip and fall cases. I would be glad to answer your questions and assist you. The consultation is always free. You can call me at 1-800-660-1466 or email me. You can read more on my blog, New York Law Thoughts.