A common type of personal injury claim in Alabama is known as a “slip and fall”. One of the best ways to increase the chances of winning a slip and fall lawsuit is to preserve the evidence from the accident. The evidence should point to the negligence of the accused party. Oftentimes, the quality and quantity of the evidence that is gathered can tip the scales in the direction of the injured party. In order to gather the most effective and useful evidence, the following guidelines should be followed.
Examples of evidence
A settlement for a slip and fall will not be offered without specific types of tangible evidence. In most instances, claims adjusters will expect to see the following items:
– medical records
– witness statements
– police and incident reports
– torn and/or bloodied clothing
– public records
– a personal narrative of the incident
Duty of care
An important part of proving someone’s guilt in a slip and fall is proving their responsibility for safety was not met. Also be sure to prove the accused party had control of the area.
When to gather evidence
Time is of the essence when gathering the necessary evidence. As soon as possible the injured party should return to the scene of the incident. The longer an injured party waits to gather the evidence, the harder it will be to attain.
Preserving evidence after a slip and fall can be difficult because the guilty party will likely want to fix the offending situation as soon as they can. For example, if the fall was a result of an un-mapped spill on the floor at a store, the manager of the store will make sure the spill is cleaned up immediately, both to assure no one else in injured and to make it difficult for the injured party to collect evidence of the fall. The injured party should contact a legal representative as soon as possible in an effort to get assistance with gathering and preserving evidence. An attorney can send a prevention of spoliation letter to the offending party that prevents the guilty party from legally destroying evidence in the case.
Be sure to bring a camera to the scene of the accident; photographs can go a long way in proving a case. If the camera has a time stamp function, be sure to use it. Take photographs of anything that can help prove the case including:
– abrasions, lacerations, or contusions to injured body
– damaged clothes
– the incident scene and surrounding area
– whatever caused the injury
All photos should be taken as soon as possible after the incident.
Third-party witness testimony is generally taken quite seriously by claims adjusters since those people do not have any financial nor personal interest in the case. Often, witnesses are able to provide information that the injured party is unable to and can often be influential. It is important to gather witness information as soon as possible after the accident so memories are fresh and fewer details have been forgotten.
Expert witnesses can also help prove a slip and fall case. They can use their expert knowledge to help prove the fall was more due to negligence on the other party’s part rather than mere happenstance.
Medical records are an important piece of evidence. Be sure to request all medical records that are related to the slip and fall from the doctor. Ask for all records even if they seem irrelevant. Records that can be helpful include:
– paramedic reports
– emergency room admitting charts
– doctor’s and nurse’s notes
– test and exam results
– physician’s diagnosis and prognosis
Returning to the scene
As soon as possible after the incident, return to the scene where it happened. Observing the location can spur memories of details that were previously forgotten. Looking at the location in a new light can also bring previously unnoticed evidence to the forefront. Be sure to bring a camera to capture such items. It is also a good idea to bring along someone else to be an extra set of eyes on the scene.
Circumstantial cannot be used to help prove the case, however it can go a long way in helping to have the case take shape. Continue to gather evidence that is purely circumstantial in case it can be helpful as the case progresses.
The personal narrative that is written by the injured party should be well thought out and extremely detailed. Write down everything that occurred and in the proper chronological order. It is always better to include too much information than not enough.
Ultimately, slip and fall cases are largely dependent on the evidence that is gathered and preserved by the injured party. It is important to establish the responsibility of and negligence by the injuring party. Anyone in Alabama who is injured by a slip and fall incident should immediately contact a lawyer to help with the process of gathering and preserving evidence that will be needed in order to have the best chance of winning the case.
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