If you are like most people, you may visit large retail stores often to buy groceries and other household goods, yet never expect to slip and fall while at one of these stores. However, it is a good idea to learn what to do in case this ever happens, because every year, one million people suffer an injury from a slip and fall accident, and an astounding 17,000 of people who suffer injuries from a fall die. Not all of these falls take place in retail stores, but with the the tendency of many of them to under-staff workers who can monitor the premises for safety hazards, many people fall in these stores due to hazardous floor conditions that the staff simply don't have time to monitor.
Read on to learn two important things you need to know before you ever suffer a slip and fall accident in a retail store.
1. File an Incident Report and Visit a Medical Professional Immediately
After a fall in a retail store, many thoughts may come into your mind. You may develop the sudden feeling that you should go to the hospital to get "checked out," but you may fear that this will result in a large medical bill that you won't receive compensation for unless you endure a lengthy court trial that you may feel will be more stressful than it is worth.
Unless you are one-hundred percent sure that you don't have any injuries, it is very important to visit a doctor or emergency room after you slip and fall in a retail store. However, before you go anywhere, report your fall to the nearest store employee (sit on the ground until you encounter one, if possible) and tell them that you need to file an incident report. This report is very important to prove that any injuries that are discovered at the hospital were caused by your fall.
If you have a camera handy, then snap photos of the floor where you fell that clearly display the hazard that led to your fall. If you have a piece of paper and pen handy, also jot down all other information about the fall, such as the aisle number it was in and the exact time and date. Then, visit the emergency room without worries of ending up with a huge bill that you will only be reimbursed after a lengthy trial.
A trial can often be avoided, if you wish, because most major retailers carry premise liability insurance. This means that the store's insurance company should pay for the cost of your medical bills due to the fall.
However, the key to ensuring that the insurance company provides you complete reimbursement for your medical bills is to hire a slip and fall lawyer and have them negotiate the settlement with the insurance company. This will improve your chances of having your medical bills reimbursed fairly early on to avoid a lengthy trial in court later.
2. Some Retail Stores Are Known to Pull Tricks to Avoid Reimbursing You
While some retail stores will work with your attorney to make sure you receive compensation for your injuries that is fair to you, some large retailers are known to "pull tricks" to avoid this expense. Some have their own in-house claims departments that will contact you after the incident and promise to reimburse you for your expenses, yet then later deny that they are at-fault for your injury or simply stop accepting your phone calls. They may also "nicely" coerce you into giving them recorded statements about your experience that they can then use to "twist your words" and later claim you were stating that the accident was your fault.
Never let a retail store claims department record any statements from you, and instead tell them to speak with your slip and fall attorney. Once they know that you have an attorney, they are more prone to settling out of court to avoid the cost of legal proceedings, although some will let the case go to court. This makes it important to keep all of the evidence you have about the incident safe, in case your attorney does need it to prove they were at-fault for your slip and fall accident in court.
Everyone visits large retail stores at least on occasion, and often frequently, so know what to do if you ever slip and fall in one. Remember to gather all of the evidence you can at the site of your slip and fall, have an attorney negotiate your settlement with the store's insurance company, and never fall for an unscrupulous store's dirty tricks that are intended to keep you from receiving the compensation you deserve.