Although they’re not the first things that most people think of when they imagine a severe injury, falls permanently change lives. On top of the damage they can do to people’s pride, they cause lasting harm that can make it impossible to work or take care of regular affairs.
If you’ve just suffered an injury after a fall, it can be hard to know where to turn next. These quick tips should help you chart a roadmap towards a more effective recovery.
What Comes First After a Fall?
Seeking medical attention is the first thing that you should do after suffering any injury. Trips, slips, and falls are no different.
Apart from obvious harm, such as bruising, these incidents can result in everything from permanent disabilities to sprains and broken bones that temporarily impair someone’s ability to work . According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA, falls are the top cause of death in industries like construction .
Individuals who get hurt by falling while performing their job duties should also notify their employers. This simple step can prove indispensable for those who pursue workers’ compensation claims.
The Hidden Legal Benefits of Seeking First Aid
Most people know that seeking medical attention is critical because it preserves their health, but it also serves another purpose. When a slip or fall victim goes to the doctor or emergency care center, the paperwork generated during their visit is a concrete record of their injury. The bills, diagnostic reports and other information from these encounters can later act as vital evidence in lawsuits, compensation claims, and disputes.
Taking Legal Action
The widespread ramifications of fall incidents mean that recovery can be an extended, arduous process. In addition to the initial medical consultation, victims may be prescribed ongoing treatment regimens that include everything from pain medications to physical therapy. In some cases, they’ll need to remain in the hospital while they heal or use medical devices, such as crutches and casts.
The cost of such solutions can take its toll on victims, especially for those who can’t work while they’re trying to recover. Many people turn to legal action, such as filing a lawsuit or workers’ comp claim. It’s important to understand the terms and concepts that commonly crop up in these kinds of proceedings:
- Liability is the idea that a specific party is legally obligated to remedy your injuries. Such remedies may include court-ordered settlement payments.
- Negligence means that someone failed to live up to their duties or take actions that a reasonable person would have taken to prevent an accident.
- In states like Florida and others, contributory negligence is the idea that more than one party can be responsible for an adverse outcome. For instance, you might be found 25 percent guilty for a slip and fall because you failed to take precautions. In such a case, you’d only be eligible for 75 percent of the normal settlement award.
Different states also have unique laws about the necessary burden of proof in liability cases. For instance, several states require victims to prove that the establishments where they slipped and fell should have known that dangerous conditions existed.
Many regulations also draw distinctions between foreseeable events and freak accidents. For instance, the owner of a hardware store might not be judged liable for your fall if you tripped on some gravel that another customer spilled only seconds earlier. If, on the other hand, the gravel spill occurred days before your fall, then it’s reasonable to assume that the business owner was negligent in not cleaning it up to keep people out of harm’s way.
Putting Together a Case or Claim
Since the rules vary according to the nature of the incident and where it occurred, talking to a legal professional is always a wise move. It’s smart to get in touch with a lawyer or attorney before or right after seeking medical attention. Since these cases depend on documenting evidence and building sound legal arguments, getting started early is your best bet.
Scott Distasio is the founder of Distasio Law Firm in Tampa. His career focus is on all types of personal injury cases. His work represents his belief that all firms should provide outstanding service to their clients. Follow @scottdistasio on Twitter to see what legal wisdom he shares next.