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What to do if you’re Injured in a Slip (or Trip) & Fall

There are any number of ways you can end up the unfortunate victim of a slip, or trip, and fall incident. In Alberta, the most likely culprits are ice and snow. However, winter weather is not the only potential cause of a slip, or trip, and fall injury. Other potential hazards include wet floors, debris in a public walkway or parking lot, poorly constructed or maintained sidewalks and stairways, unmarked curbs, concealed barriers, and tripping hazards.

While a lawyer experienced in these matters can handle the many legal issues that will inevitably arise, there are a number of things that you can, and should do to maximize your ability to prove your claim, and to receive the compensation you deserve.

No matter how badly you’re injured, you can’t recover unless you can establish that the defendant – usually the owner or “occupier” of the property where the accident occurred – is liable. To do this, you generally need to establish that a reasonably foreseeable risk of harm existed, the defendant failed to take reasonable steps to prevent that harm from occurring, and, as a result of the defendant’s negligence, you were injured. While lawyers can guide you through the many legal issues that will inevitably arise, the most important task is establishing the facts. To do that, you need evidence.

  • Take pictures: At the risk of sounding cliché, a picture really is worth a thousand words. Record everything you can about where, why, how and when the accident occurred with photos, and even videos. Don’t stop at photos of the specific hazard that caused the accident – document the surrounding area as well. What wasn’t there (like a “wet floor” sign) can be just as important as what was. Make sure that your evidence accurately reflects the conditions at the time of your accident, particularly if it happened outside. The specific conditions at the time you were injured may be an important factor. If you can’t take pictures at the time, return as soon as possible to do so, or send someone on your behalf.

  • Witnesses: If anyone else saw the accident happen, ask for their contact information. If they’re willing to give you a written or recorded statement of what happened, ask for that as well. Litigation moves slowly, and contemporaneous accounts from witnesses can become increasingly important as memories fade.

  • Physical evidence: If any physical evidence of the cause of your accident can be preserved, try and make sure it is. For example, the footwear you were wearing at the time of the accident might help prove that you fell because of an unreasonably slippery floor, and not because of the slick, worn down soles of your shoes. Consider shelving them until your claim is resolved.

  • Expenses: As time goes on, you may incur expenses directly related to your injuries. Keep receipts for things like medication, medical supplies and equipment, and even parking at your doctor’s appointments. If your claim is successful, you are entitled to reimbursement for reasonable expenses you incur as a result of your injuries.

Seek Medical Assistance
If you’re injured, your first priority should be your health. If your injuries are serious, seek immediate medical attention. You can always send someone back to the scene to take photos. 

Even if your injuries don’t seem serious at the time, you should still visit your family doctor as soon as possible. First, your injuries might be more serious than you think. Second, your medical records are essential evidence in a claim for personal injuries. Don’t leave anything out when telling your doctor about your injuries, even if you think it might be minor, or unrelated to the accident.

It’s also crucial that you follow all treatment recommendations from your medical care providers. Even if your injuries are the result of someone else’s negligence, you have a duty to take all reasonable steps to mitigate the extent of those injuries. If you don’t, and your recovery doesn’t go as well as it otherwise would have, your entitlement to compensation could be limited.

Report the Incident
Report the incident to the owner or occupier of the property – or both, as more than one party can be an “occupier” under the Occupiers’ Liability Act – in writing. Submit and accident or incident report if requested. If there may be security footage of the incident, tell the property owner – in writing – to preserve that footage. Even if it is later lost, the fact that you put the defendant on notice as soon as possible could be important if the circumstances of the accident are later disputed.

Know your legal rights and limitations
The general rule is that you have two years from the date the incident occurred to file a Statement of Claim. However, there may be exceptions. A lawyer experienced in personal injury cases can advise you about the specific legal issues that might apply to your particular case. In some cases – for example, if the incident occurred on public property – additional requirements may apply that greatly limit the amount of time you have to notify a municipality if you want to pursue a claim.  If you fail to file a claim before your limitation period expires, you will likely lose your right to pursue any compensation for your injuries.

Contact us
You can lay the groundwork for a successful claim, but navigating the litigation process is a complex task best handled by experienced legal counsel. If you’re injured in a slip and fall accident, call us for a free consultation.

To learn more about slip and fall cases, click here.

Written by Luke Young