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Slip-and-fall basics: Know what to do if it happens

Slip-and-fall accidents are terribly common -- and they can be more devastating than most people realize. Depending on your age, your health and the type of fall you take, you can end up with anything from a torn ligament in your knee to a traumatic brain injury.

Falls are so common that they are actually the No. 1 cause of missed days at work. Perhaps most surprisingly, bad falls often occur at ground level -- not from an elevated height like most people might think.

Since property owners and businesses are required to keep the premises reasonably safe for people who are doing business there, every slip and fall could potentially expose someone to liability for a victim's injuries -- but only if the victim can show that some negligence was behind the accident.

If you take an unexpected tumble that results in an injury, what sort of evidence should you try to keep so that you can make it easier to make a claim?

1. Your footwear

The shoes on your feet when you fall are often important pieces of evidence. The smart thing to do is put them in a paper bag and set them aside as soon as possible.

It's important to show that your shoes were appropriate for the conditions surrounding your fall. For example, heels might be expected at an office building -- but they wouldn't be appropriate if you have to walk around a construction site.

There's also a possibility that your shoes could retain additional evidence if there was something on the floor that led to your fall. Cooking oil that spilled on a restaurant floor, for example, could end up on the soles of your shoes.

2. Your surroundings

It's also important to try to document the hazard that either caused or contributed to your fall, including things like:

  • Torn carpets
  • Missing handrails
  • Uneven floors
  • Objects left on the ground
  • Spills

A few quick photos can provide a mountain of evidence to help your case. When there's a spill, for example, a photo can show the absence of a yellow caution sign warning you of danger.

Insurance companies will happily blame a victim for having two left feet before they'll admit to negligence -- but that doesn't mean they can't be obligated to pay when the evidence is right.

Source: FindLaw, "Physical Evidence to Keep for a Slip and Fall Case," Christopher Coble, Esq., accessed May 29, 2018

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