While we all work to prevent falls, accidents still occur. Often these unfortunate events can lead to litigation.
What should you do when a slip and fall occurs on your property or at your workplace? Here are some steps to ensure that available defenses are preserved and that your attorney has the information needed to make valuable recommendations regarding the incident. Create an accident file with all of the information you obtain and keep the file at least until the prescriptive period (typically one year in Louisiana) has passed.
- Preserve any security footage showing the slip and fall accident site or the individual/s involved- many security systems run on a loop and footage will be erased to make room for new recordings. In addition to providing insight as to how the accident occurred, preserving footage will protect you from a spoliation claim. A “spoliation” claim may lie when evidence is destroyed and another party is disadvantaged because they do not have the evidence.
- If the injured person is willing and able, obtain a detailed statement including their version of how the slip and fall accident occurred and any injuries.
- Obtain statements from any witnesses including their complete contact information. Witnesses are invaluable sources of information. For example, their version of events may show inconsistencies in the events recounted by the injured person.
- Inspect the area where the slip and fall accident occurred. Try to identify the reason for the fall and verify information in the statements you obtained. If possible, photograph the area and your findings. For example, the injured person says that they tripped on uneven concrete, photograph the alleged defect using a ruler to demonstrate the extent of the deformity.
- Write a report detailing the findings of your investigation. Include details such as:
- Were hazards present?
- Was medical personnel called to the scene?
- Did the person slip and fall forward or backward?
- What type of footwear was worn? Detail the soles, size of the heel etc.
- Was there visible injury such as bruising or a broken bone?
- Was rain or other moisture a contributing factor?
- Where did the slip and fall accident occur?
- When was the last time the area was cleaned or inspected?
- What was the lighting in the area?
6. Finally, Identify and preserve documents such as floor maintenance logs and employee time sheets which may be requested in litigation discovery.
While each case may require slightly different information, taking a proactive approach will help control the damage and resolve claims more efficiently.
Allen & Gooch is providing this legal update for informational purposes only. This article should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion as to any specific facts or circumstances. You should consult your own attorney concerning your particular situation and any specific legal questions you may have.