Do I Have a “Slip and Fall” Claim?
Do you have a slip and fall claim?
You slipped and fell in a store. You felt embarrassed and hoped no one saw you. All you wanted was to hurry up and get out of there. Once you reach the privacy of your car, though, you realize you are hurting pretty badly. But you’re able to drive home where you try to rest, suck it up, and tough it out. At the urging of a loved one, though, you finally give in and go to the emergency room later that night, or maybe the next day, or a couple days later, because the pain just won’t go away. Once you get to the ER, tests and x-rays show that you have a small fracture or other problem that will require follow-up care. You begin to wonder if the store is at fault, and whether you might have a claim.
This scenario isn’t uncommon. Similar thoughts go through the minds of many people who are injured in slip and fall accidents in Tennessee. To be quite honest, due to the state of the law, it can be difficult to recover for a slip and fall in Tennessee. Sometimes people who are seriously injured in a slip and fall through no fault of their own are simply unable to recover for a variety of reasons. This is why you need a good lawyer on your side as soon as possible after a slip and fall accident.
Elements of a Slip and Fall Claim in Tennessee
To recover in a slip and fall case, in addition to the general elements of negligence, you must prove either that: (1) the condition that caused your fall was created by the property owner; or (2) the property owner had actual or constructive notice that the condition existed before your fall. It is absolutely critical that you prove the condition or object that caused the fall.
Speculation about the cause of an injury is not enough to establish liability. The Tennessee Court of Appeals, in Willis v. McDonald’s Restaurants of Tennessee, Inc., recently granted summary judgment to a McDonald’s restaurant because the plaintiff could only say that she stepped on a hard, sharp object, which caused her to fall. Because she could not identify what specifically caused her to fall, she could not prove that the restaurant either created the condition or knew or should have known about it before she fell. Therefore, McDonald’s won and the jury never even got to hear the plaintiff’s case.
Why do I need a Slip and Fall Attorney?
An attorney can increase your chances of recovery by taking immediate steps to help you gather and preserve evidence that may help you prove your claim. For example, our firm regularly sends out “spoliation letters” notifying property owners of a potential claim against them and demanding that they preserve any and all evidence concerning that claim. Nowadays, many businesses have video surveillance that can sometimes show when and how a dangerous condition was created and how long it existed before an accident.
If you are injured in a slip and fall accident, feel free to call us at 901-372-5003 or email us here. Every case is unique and our personal injury attorneys– Chris Patterson, Erin Shea, and Will Patterson— can help you navigate your particular circumstances.
What should I do if I am involved in a slip and fall?
- Determine WHAT caused you to fall and document it. Take a picture or write down the specific details.
- Report your accident. Don’t be embarrassed and just leave. Ask for a manager and explain what happened so that your claim is documented. Before you leave, ask for copies of the accident report and other forms created by the business in response to your report. Even if you later decide not to pursue a claim, go ahead and report your accident as soon as it happens.
- Ask that any relevant video surveillance be preserved, including footage for the two (2) hour period of time before your fall.
- Take photographs or video of the scene. Do not worry about the quality.
- Take note of whether there are any warning signs or barricades in the area of your injury.
- Write down the contact information for any witnesses. Other customers can sometimes be helpful. Write down the names of the employees in the area and of those who help you.
- Take photos of your injuries.
- Seek medical attention as needed.