Slips, trips and falls are the largest single cause of brain injuries in the United States on a yearly basis. Slips, trips and falls are also significant causes of spinal cord and back injuries. Falls account for many serious, life-altering injuries to senior citizens, including broken bones and the need for hip replacements.
Visitors from all over the world come to Las Vegas. Serious injuries from falls often happen at the major Las Vegas Hotels/Casinos. Other places that have a high volume of serious injuries from falls include grocery stores, superstores, and large “box stores.” All of these businesses control all of the facts and information relating to a fall. The law in Nevada protects the property owner and places the burden of proving negligence on the person who fell and was injured. Property owners in Nevada fight slip and fall cases to the bitter end. Even when they are negligent, they aggressively defend the cases alleging that the injured victim was primarily at fault because he or she was not paying proper attention. There is never an easy slip and fall case in Nevada. That is why many lawyers refused to handle slip and fall cases.
If you are involved in a slip, trip and fall, you must take certain actions to protect your self and preserve your case. You should:
Report your fall. Report your fall to the property owner or an employee.
Medical care. If you are injured, seek and obtain appropriate medical care and treatment. The property owners should ask you if you need medical assistance or an ambulance. If the property owner does not, ask for appropriate medical care or call 911.
Identify the cause. Identify what caused you to fall. If it was a liquid or foreign substance, determine what the liquid or foreign substance was. Find out where the liquid or foreign substance came from. If possible, find out how long the liquid or foreign substance was on the floor.
Witnesses. Record the names, addresses and telephone numbers of all witnesses. Find out what the witnesses saw. Find out if the witnesses have any knowledge of where the liquid or foreign substance came from. Find out if the witnesses know how long the liquid or foreign substance was on the floor. Find out if the witnesses know if the property owner or any of the employees caused the liquid or foreign substance to be on the floor. Find out if the witnesses know if the property owner or any of the employees had knowledge that the liquid or foreign substance was on the floor before your fall.
Photos. Most of us have cell phones with cameras. Take pictures of the area where you fell. Take clear pictures that show the liquid or foreign substance on the floor and where it came from. If there are tracks through the liquid or foreign substance, take pictures of them. If there is a skid mark or slide marks from other people or from when you fell, take sufficient pictures to show and document them. If the liquid or foreign substance has soaked into your clothing, take pictures showing your soaked clothing. If lighting is a factor, take pictures showing the lack of adequate lighting. If within the days following your fall you have significant bruising, take pictures of your bruising and other injuries. Document by photographs that there were not any warning signs or warning cones near the liquid or foreign substance.
Identify investigating employees. Record the names of any employees who investigate or come to the scene of your fall. Record the names of any employees who clean the area after your fall.
Obtain copies of incident reports and photographs. The property owner typically conducts an investigation. Witnesses and employees complete investigative reports. Employees take pictures of the area, your shoes, and your clothing. They will take pictures of any visible cuts, bruises and injuries. Ask for an incident number and copies of all reports and photographs. Do not be surprised if the property owner refuses to give you copies of the report and photographs. They claim this information is “proprietary.”
Recorded statements. Typically within the days following a slip and fall, an insurance adjuster will contact you. The insurance adjuster will request a “recorded statement.” DO NOT GIVE A RECORDED STATEMENT OR ANSWER ANY QUESTIONS UNTIL YOU SPEAK TO AN ATTORNEY. The purpose of the recorded statement is to obtain admissions or statements that will eliminate responsibility from the property owner or establish that you were primarily at fault for the fall. The insurance adjuster has years of experience in these types of claims. They have years of training and they have an underlying purpose behind the call. You, on the other hand, have no experience in dealing with such claims. You are at a significant disadvantage. You are justified and well advised to inform the insurance adjuster that you will not provide him or her with any information until you have had an opportunity to discuss the matter with a lawyer.