What to do if Injured on Someone Else's Property
Provided by HG.org
Have you, or someone you know, been injured while visiting someone else’s home or place of business? Such injuries can occur as a result of wet floors, uneven steps, falling objects, defective elevators, defective parking lots and sidewalks, poorly lit staircases, inadequate security, dog bites, or some other dangerous conditions on the premises. If this sounds like you, you may have a basis for a lawsuit against the property owners.
Stores, public places, and home owners have a duty to exercise reasonable care to ensure persons are protected from an unreasonable risk of harm while on their property. This means the owner has the obligation to inspect the house or the building and either repair or adequately warn the visitors of dangerous conditions on the property. If the property owner knows of a dangerous condition on the property but fails to do anything about it, the owner may be held liable for any injuries suffered by visitors due to that condition.
So, if you were injured, what should you do?
1) Seek medical attention immediately. This may seem obvious, but the severity of one’s injuries are not always immediately apparent. Sometimes, outward symptoms do not manifest for weeks or months. If you even suspect you might have been injured you should check with a doctor immediately.
2) Take photographs. While things are still in the same condition of your accident, you should take pictures. Almost every modern cell phone has a camera, and now is the time to use it. You want to immediately take photographs of the scene that display the dangerous condition which caused the injury.
3) Gather and preserve other relevant information or evidence. Get the names and contact information of any person who may have witnessed the incident or who can describe the conditions of the floor, lighting, security, or any other conditions at the time of the incident that may have contributed to your injury. Talk to everyone who saw the accident or injury occur. Also, preserve evidence such as shoes and clothes that were worn when the incident occurred. Items should be secured and stored without being washed, cleaned, or changed in any way.
4) File or obtain an incident or police report. If the incident occurred in a business establishment, inform the store manager or the security officer and file an incident report. If the incident involved an attack, get a police report. If medical personnel are contacted, get their reports. If possible, get copies of any reports before leaving the premises or as soon thereafter as is possible.
5) Preserve medical and expense records. Depending on the circumstances, the injured person may be eligible to receive reimbursement of medical bills, lost wages, and other damages suffered as a result of the injury. However, these damages will need to be proven. Proof will include medical records from treating doctors, details of procedures performed, and receipts of any out-of-pocket expenses such as for prescription medications or medical equipment.
6) Do not sign anything without obtaining legal advice. Following an accident in someone else’s property, a person (often from an insurance company or an attorney representing the owner) may contact you to get more information about your injuries or ask you to sign a release. Before signing anything consult with an attorney representing your interests who specializes in these cases and who will be able to advise you accordingly. Most personal injury law firms will be able to assist you with this type of case, and many will do so on a contingency basis, meaning they will only be paid when you receive a settlement payment.
Often, these cases require the use of experts to prove the dangerous condition in the property, the extent of your injuries, etc. An experienced attorney can help you obtain that expert and assist in your claim.
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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.