Despite the term "shop till you drop," falling in a retail store is not a good thing. If you've been hurt due to a fall in a retail store, you might be able to get some compensation for your injuries from the store. In order to do that, though, you'll have to be able to show that whatever caused you to fall was dangerous and that the store owner or employee on duty at the time should have known of its danger and existence. There are several things you'll need to address in the moments and days following your fall. Here are some tips to help you preserve your case.
Start with an Overall Evaluation
Before you leave the scene, there are a few things you should think about. First, take a minute to evaluate the cause of your fall. If it was a substance on the floor, look at it. Try to determine what it is, or make note of any obvious features. You should also try to determine how long it may have been there. If a product shelf is in disrepair or there were products in the aisle, see if you can find out how long it has been that way.
Then, consider the moments leading up to the fall. Was the substance or object blatantly obvious? Did you slip and fall simply because you weren't paying attention, or because it created a legitimate safety hazard? Look around you and see if there are any witnesses. Make sure that you get names, phone numbers and any information that they may have. While you're at it, ask if anyone might have gotten video of the accident.
What You Need to Prove
In order for the store to be held responsible for your fall, you'll have to prove that the individual responsible for the store at the time had either constructive or actual physical knowledge of the problem.
Constructive knowledge is easy to prove if you can show that the individual working didn't do a reasonable inspection of the property to identify any potential safety hazards. Since the store owner or manager is responsible for ensuring that the property is safe, this type of inspection is essential. The courts will assume that the responsible individual would have identified the issue had the inspection been done, which results in a finding of constructive knowledge of the hazard.
Actual knowledge isn't nearly as easy to determine. In the case of actual knowledge, you have to be able to show that the responsible individual actually knew that the hazard was there. In this case, you'd have to have solid proof that the store employee had been shown that the substance or item was there and had opted not to do anything about it. In a retail environment, that means finding a customer who complained about it already or possibly having surveillance video of the employee walking by the area and seeing the problem.
How to Protect Your Case
Many slip and fall cases fail simply because of a lack of evidence. The best thing you can do is ensure that you preserve every bit of evidence from the scene. Take pictures of the entire area and the specific hazard that you tripped over. Document witness statements clearly with contact information for each of them so that your attorney can provide that to the courts.
Finally, when you get home, take off your shoes and your clothes and put them into a bag. Keep them safe until you talk with an attorney who can have them inspected. If you continue to wear either of them after the accident, you risk destroying any physical evidence that may exist.
With so many things in question after a retail slip and fall accident, you want to make sure that you protect yourself. Call an attorney right away, and provide him or her with all of the evidence that you have. Your proactive information gathering and the efforts of a slip and fall attorney may help you secure a settlement for your injury. You can find an attorney by checking out a law firm online at http://www.putnamlieb.com.