It’s a typical Tuesday. You are out grocery shopping at your favorite chain store, looking at your list, and thinking of the million or so items you want to tackle on your to-do list this evening. You come around the corner of an aisle, slip in a puddle and find yourself bewildered on the floor. You are hurting, and aren’t totally sure what is causing the pain. It’s hard to think clearly. What do you do next, if you are injured in a store?
Regardless of the type of injury you face, there are certain steps you can take to help ensure your welfare in the moment, and later on down the line. Depending on your particular circumstances, you may be entitled to compensation for your injury.
The first thing you should focus on if injured is your safety – do you need immediate medical attention?
Have you hit your head? No matter what else you have facing you, making sure you are safe and well should be your top priority. Be careful moving around if you are in pain, as it may make your injuries worse. Ask for help from other patrons or store staff, and call 911 if you need it.
Once you have established what you need to do medically, try to puzzle out what happened, and obtain any evidence available.
Look around to see if the premises is safe, if you see any obvious hazards (like a wet floor) and check to see if there are any signs or warnings about these hazards. Take photos of the area where the incident happened. Premises liability lawsuits are usually contingent upon proving that the business was aware of a hazard and didn’t take proper steps to convey this warning to patrons, so if you can show evidence of this, it can truly make your case. The right evidence can help prove negligence.
If there was anyone present at the time of your accident, ask for their contact info as a witness.
If it comes to a court case between you and the store, having a third party that is impartial can be a huge aid in your favor.
One of the most important steps in this process is filing a report with the store. If you have not been approached by an employee at this point, then find one, preferably a store manager. Do your best to simply state the facts of the indecent, and withhold from responding emotionally, or speculating on why it occurred. Remember, the store wants to avoid being responsible at all costs, and will use any errant thought spoken aloud against you if they can. Whatever you do, DO NOT sign any paperwork at the store. Many managers or corporate departments will try to get you to sign a liability waiver after you have been injured in a store, and this can negate your case if you do sign.
The next step is to seek medical treatment if you haven’y already.
The most important reason to do this is to make sure you are truly well, even if you feel okay. Sometimes, back, neck, and joint injuries may not show symptoms for some time, and it is always safer to have a medical professional give you the all clear.
Beyond making sure that you are well, it is important to have a medical report if you have sustained injuries. For example, if your injury causes you to miss work, the store is responsible for paying your lost wages – if you can prove that your injuries made you miss work, rather than it seeming like a spontaneous vacation. This report can be a solid asset in your case.
The last step can also be the simplest – with all of the above steps covered, it may be time to consult with a personal injury attorney.
Being injured in a store can be awfully distressing, and if you choose to take it to court to seek compensation, overwhelming too. Depending on the size of the store, they likely have a firm on hand who is well versed on doing everything they can to clear the store of any liability – and push your claim off into obscurity. Representing yourself in these matters may cost you much more than a headache – it could cost you the compensation you deserve.