A hypothetical client named “John” recently came into our office a couple weeks after suffering a slip and fall snow and ice injury. Poor John tore the anterior cruciate ligament of his left knee when he fell. His medical bills stacked up quickly. On top of his medical bills, he couldn’t exercise, he couldn’t work around the house, and he couldn’t go to work. He risked losing everything. When we were done, the insurance company paid his bills, paid his lost wages, and paid for his pain and suffering.
Who was Responsible for John’s Slip and Fall Injuries?
John slipped on ice while walking from his car to go shopping. He slipped on an icy sidewalk that the business owner knew was dangerous. In Washington State, business owners are frequently liable for unsafe icy conditions on their properties. The basic rule is that a property owner is liable for any dangerous conditions that they new about, or should have known about.
In John’s case, the business knew, or should have known, about the icy conditions that caused John to fall. The business could have easily gotten rid of the ice, or at least warned John that the ice existed, but it did nothing. The business was responsible for John’s damages.
Damages include medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and loss of consortium. It can also include property damage such as, in this case, torn clothing.
John Documented Everything
You need to collect and preserve proof of everything that happened to you. Insurance companies, adjusters, lawyers, judges, and juries want proof. The best way to get that proof is to collect copies of everything related to your accident. John went one step further and kept a Pain Journal.
John, like most people, couldn’t remember what he had for breakfast two days earlier, so he was careful to keep copies of all documents, and take careful notes about his injuries and daily pain. Use the old “who, what, where, when and why” in your journal. Each of your notes should answer who is the person or entity involved, what did they say or do or not do, where did the action occur, when did the action occur, and why did the action occur.
John kept a great pain journal. He recorded a few notes each day about how he felt, and how the pain was effecting him. That made a big difference. A sample entry in John’s journal indicated “lower right side back pain, 8/10 on February 1, 2017.” He also wrote notes about when he couldn’t clean, or couldn’t do the things he usually did. He was very good at indicating who, what, where, when and why.
A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words
John’s wife was careful to take a LOT of pictures of the area where John fell. Those pictures really helped later, and were probably worth thousands of dollars in additional settlement money.
If you’re getting pictures of an accident scene, get as many different angles as possible. You should get pictures at the same time of day, with the same weather and traffic conditions that existed when you were injured. The sooner after the event, the better. If you do the pictures well, this is money in your pocket later. Take more pictures that you think necessary. Let your lawyer get rid of bad pictures. John and his wife did a great job of collecting great pictures of the icy sidewalk just hours after his slip and fall.
Medical Records are Necessary
You must prove your injuries. See a doctor as soon as possible, and do everything that they tell you to do. When you talk to your doctor, make sure that you clearly describe everything that you are feeling. Ask them to include those details in your medical records. This can be the difference between a good settlement and getting nothing.