First thing they should probably do in a claim, is get somebody there on their behalf to the scene of the accident immediately. Have that person take pictures using their camera phone of the premises, and of the defects where the individual fell. Take pictures of the entire premises to get an idea, so whoever is looking at the pictures sees the layout of the place where the accident occurred. Secondly, I would recommend that they identify all of the video cameras that may have possibly caught him or her coming on to the premises, and may or may not have caught them falling on the premises, or injuring themselves on the premises.
Thirdly, I would advise them to immediately let the owner, property owner, property supervisor, or whoever is in charge, know that they had this accident. Because if you do not let them know that they had this accident then it is going to create problems as to the property owner actually having notice of this accident. Largely, they are going to try to deny it as something that never occurred, but if you let the property owner or manager know immediately, this will go a long way in proving that an accident did occur. Fourthly, I would recommend that they ask that person who is in charge that they preserve any videotape from the scene where they fell.
Fifthly, I would suggest that they immediately get medical attention no matter how minor the injury may seem at first. It may be more serious than they thought, but if they have any injuries that they believe may have been as a result from the fall on the premises, they need to go get checked out by healthcare providers. They need to go get it looked at right away. Lastly, once they have taken all of these steps, they need to contact a lawyer right away, because these are the types of cases that the earlier you get to a lawyer, the better the chances are on a high percentage basis, the better chances your case will have a successful outcome.
No matter how good a slip, trip, fall, or premises liability case you may have, if you wait too long to retain an attorney, and you think you can handle it on your own, you are destroying your chances of being able to make any recovery. Many steps need to be taken to preserve the evidence in order to make your case. That is because nobody comes to the scene of a premises liability accident, and writes a report. When I say nobody, I mean no disinterested party comes to the scene to evaluate what happened in the accident, and how dangerous or non-dangerous the premises may have been. When you have an auto accident, you realize that the police are called to the scene of the accident, and they write an accident report. They always do some sort of an investigation to try to figure out what happened. When you have a premises accident, typically no one comes to the scene.
Law enforcement will not arrive on the scene in a premise liability case unless of course there are injuries. There is no disinterested party who can evaluate the scene, and write an objective report. It is either the owner of the premises writes up a report that is usually tilted in their favor, or you have somebody take pictures, and maybe they write a report that would be considered biased, or tilted in your favor. Even though I am recommending that you do have somebody take pictures, and that person may be a family friend, you are far better off if you do that, than if you just let the store owner or manager investigate the accident. You need somebody there to be your advocate. You need somebody that will take pictures of everything that is on the premises, and if possible, get names and telephone numbers of any witnesses.
That is a fifth step that I may have omitted, obtain any witness information if there are any witnesses. You do not need to take a recorded statement from them, but certainly, ask them if they saw what happened, and then take their name and number so you can give that information to your attorney.
Even if the liability is quite clear, typically, the contest is about first, liability, but then it is also ordinarily about whether or not the negligence caused a particular injury or injuries. Why you need to have a lawyer for that particular situation is because if you can prove that someone was negligent, it is half of the battle. You have to prove that that negligence caused your damages. Sometimes with these slip, trip, and falls, your medical history will be your own undoing, and if you have prior slips, trips, and falls, or you have a long history of pain, or problems with a joint that you claim was damaged by the accident, you may lose that case. You need a lawyer that is exceptional at connecting the dots for lack of a better terminology from liability, to causation, to damages.
You need to retain a lawyer that knows the doctors in your community and knows how to get a proper report out of that doctor. This that will stand up in court, which will take your case a lot further than you can take it. The expertise of a lawyer is to establish the causation between the negligent act, and your damages in the claim. If you do not have a lawyer, you are trying to do represent yourself, and you have never done it successfully, then you are playing Russian roulette, and most likely, you are going to lose.
The only thing I can think of is that no matter how good or bad you think your case may be, or how difficult you think your case may be, you should always retain an experienced attorney in this area to review the case through a consultation. We provide free, no-obligation consultations all of the time to folks who have sustained injuries, that they believe may be a result of premises liability claim. We evaluate the facts on these cases. Some of those cases do not end up being worth their time or ours, for a variety of reasons that I have stated prior.
The thing that you need to remember is getting a consultation does not cost you anything, and getting a consultation does not oblige you to any particular attorney. You want to talk to somebody who has experience in this area of the law, it is rather unique, and unusual area of the law. There are not a lot of rules and every premise are not the same. You need a lawyer who knows how to dig at those rules and get them to work in your best interest in order to have a successful claim, and if you are trying to do this on your own, it is just going to be a very dangerous proposition.