Although stores and supermarkets are generally safe, there can be the occasional hazards that increase the likelihood of a person becoming injured. The most common situation is a slip-and-fall accident, but there’s also the possibility of something falling on a person or other types of accidents occurring. Shopping injuries can occur when stores are negligent and unsafe conditions.
Whenever you’re at a store, the business is legally required to ensure that the premises are reasonably safe. If you were injured while in a store or anywhere on that business’s property, such as the area outside the front doors, then the business may be responsible for any damages you suffered.
To ensure you get the compensation you deserve with as little stress as possible, here is what you should do after being injured in a store.
Step 1: Safety First
Immediately after the incident occurs, your priority is your health and safety. Be careful about moving around if you’re in pain or feel uncomfortable, and call for help if necessary. If you’ve fallen and you don’t feel well, stay there. You can exacerbate injuries by moving.
If you feel like you need medical attention right away, call 911 or ask someone to call for you after you’ve gotten help.
Step 2: Collect Any Evidence You Can
Whether you’re able to do this will obviously depend on your condition. Don’t feel like you need to if you’re not feeling 100 percent. If you have someone shopping with you, ask them to help.
If you’re up for it, look around the area where the incident occurred. See if you can determine what the cause was and what hazards were there. You should also check if there were any signs indicating those hazards.
Any visual evidence you obtain can help quite a bit in a future injury claim. If you have a smartphone on you, use it to snap some photos or take video of the area.
Step 3: Get Contact Information for Any Witnesses
Witness testimony is also a huge help. If the store later tries to claim that whatever happened was your fault, an unbiased third party could convince a judge that it was the store, and not you, that was negligent.
Most people who witness a possible injury will stop to help or at least ask if you’re okay, which means it probably won’t be too difficult to talk to any witnesses. If no one comes up to you, you can ask those in the area if they saw what happened.
For any witnesses you find, make sure you get their contact information. Keep in mind that someone can be a valuable witness even if they didn’t see exactly what happened to you. They could still testify regarding a hazard in the store or the conditions that ended up causing your injury.
Step 4: Let an Employee Know What Happened
If an employee hasn’t approached you already, you should find one and tell them what happened. Stores make reports whenever there’s an accident on the property.
You can give the first employee you see a general idea of what happened, and then provide a more detailed account when the store is making its official report of the incident.
As you’re making your report, stick to the facts and don’t say anything that could be construed as an admission of fault. When in doubt, keep it simple. Don’t speculate on why the incident happened or the extent of your injuries. The last thing you want to do is give the store anything they can use against you to avoid paying for your damages.
Make sure you don’t sign anything, either. Some stores will try to get you to sign a liability release after an accident occurs, which can prevent you from pursuing a case against them.
Step 5: Go to the Doctor
You should see a doctor as soon as you can after the incident, even if you feel fine. There are two reasons for this.
The first is that even if you don’t notice any symptoms, you could still have sustained an injury. Head, back and neck injuries, in particular, sometimes don’t have immediate symptoms, or the symptoms could be so minor that you barely notice them. Without getting these injuries diagnosed, they can get worse.
The second is that a medical report can help you in your case. Let’s say that your injuries cause you to miss a week of work. It’s the store’s responsibility to pay you for your lost wages, but for that to happen, you need a medical report verifying that you have injuries and aren’t taking a week off just because.
Step 6: Consider Consulting with an Attorney
Whether you have all kinds of evidence supporting your case, or it could come down to your word versus the store’s, your best chance of receiving compensation for your damages is by hiring a skilled personal injury attorney.
In cases involving accidents on store property, it can be tough to prove liability. When you hire an attorney to represent you, they’ll immediately start investigating what happened. They’ll analyze any evidence you were able to gather, contact witnesses and see if the store had video cameras recording the area where the accident occurred. If there was a hazard in the store, your attorney will look into how long this hazard had been around and if there’s any evidence the business knew about it.
By trying to handle the situation on your own, you’ll be dealing with the store’s insurance company and possibly its lawyers. They will likely either deny negligence or try to negotiate down to paying you the smallest amount possible. You need someone on your side who has your best interests at heart and can advise you on how to proceed.
If you’ve been seriously injured in a store, we can help. Contact GJEL Accident Attorneys as soon as possible for a consultation, where we’ll go over your case and put together the best strategy.