Three Rules if You Suffer Injury Due to a Fall at a Business—Document, Document, Document
According to the National Bureau of Standards, over 500,000 Americans suffer serious injuries every year because of falls. 3,800 Americans die every year because of falls.
We get many calls from people who have been injured in falls on the premises of a business. We often get asked whether the business can be held responsible. When it comes to slip and falls, Ohio law favors businesses, but there are exceptions. If you fall while visiting a business, it is critical that you document the hazard that caused you to fall. Whether the business will be held responsible will depend on this evidence.
How to Document Your Case
- First and foremost, take photographs or video on your phone of what caused you to fall.
- Notify the business manager or owner that you have fallen, and ask that they complete an incident report.
- Talk to witnesses and write down anything that the witnesses say about what they saw.
- Ask the witnesses for their names and contact information.
- Specifically request in writing that the business preserve any surveillance footage. (Contact Rinehardt Law for a sample letter).
In the case of serious injury, sometimes it is not possible to immediately do any of these things. If this is the case, it is important for your friends or family to attempt to obtain this evidence or contact an attorney right away.
This documentation can make or break your case. Rinehardt Law has represented many clients in slip and fall cases. Our success in these cases often comes down to what we can prove about how our client was injured.
The Importance of Photographs
In one case, our client tripped at a grocery store on a rug that the store had placed against a refrigeration case. The edge of the rug was curled up creating a tripping hazard. While on the ground after the fall, another customer offered to take photographs with our client’s phone of the hazard that had caused her to fall. Our client was helped to the front of the store and an incident report was created before she was taken to the hospital. When our client later made a claim for the injuries she suffered, the store denied responsibility. After we got involved, we requested that the store provide us with a copy of the incident report and any other documentation they had to support their denial of her claim. The store provided us with the incident report and some photographs that it had taken after our client had left the store. Those photographs showed the rug moved away from the refrigeration case with a crate placed on the corner to keep the curled edge from sticking up. The store had gone back, staged the area, and taken photographs. The store was unaware that our client had taken photographs that not only proved there had been a tripping hazard, but also that the store had taken measures to falsely document the scene. After that, we were able to get a fair settlement for our client.
How Surveillance Video Can Help Your Case
In another case, we represented a woman who fell at a chain restaurant on a wet floor. Our client insisted there was no wet floor sign warning of the hazard. The restaurant denied responsibility claiming there was a wet floor sign. We got involved in the case and we asked the store to provide us with the video from the surveillance cameras to show what happened that day. The store refused to produce the video. The store was so uncooperative that we had to file a lawsuit. Once suit was filed, we asked the judge to force the restaurant to produce the video, and finally we got the surveillance footage. What the video showed was an employee mopping the floor without putting out a wet floor sign. The video showed our client walking around a corner, stepping onto the wet floor, and her feet flying out from under her. Our client suffered a severe fracture of her ankle in the fall. We were able to achieve a good settlement in that case as well.
Contact Rinehardt Law
If you have been injured because of a slip and fall, contact Rinehardt Law for a free consultation and make sure to document the cause of your fall.