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What to do immediately after a slip-and-fall accident happens

This article looks at the duty of care businesses in Virginia owe to their customers to prevents slips and falls.

Slips, trips, and falls are serious incidents, especially during the winter season when floors and walkways can become hazardous due to ice, snow, water, and slush. As the National Safety Council points out, falls are a leading cause of unintentional injury and the second-leading cause of unintentional deaths that occur in homes and communities in the United States. While falls are particularly hazardous for the elderly and those with limited mobility, the truth is that anybody can become seriously injured because of a slip-and-fall accident. In Virginia, commercial property owners have a duty of care to ensure their premises are kept safe for customers, including by minimizing the risks of slipping or falling.

Duty of commercial properties

Commercial properties, such as malls, restaurants, stores, and service-based industries, have a duty to keep their premises safe for customers, who are considered a business' invitees. As the US Law Network notes, commercial property owners are expected to exercise this duty of care towards their invitees in a number of different ways, including by exercising ordinary care towards customers, keeping the premises reasonably safe, clearing floors of foreign objects, and warning customers of potentially unsafe conditions. If a property owner fails in any of these duties and a customer is injured in a slip-and-fall accident then that property owner could be held liable for negligence.

What to do after a slip-and-fall accident?

For those who have been injured in a slip-and-fall accident, it is important to act fast in order to maximize the chances of building a successful case. Medical bills, lost income, therapy, and other expenses can quickly add up after an accident, which is why having a strong case may be important if a property owner's negligence may have created an unsafe environment. Proving negligence is not always easy, however, especially when an injury may have been the result of snow, ice or water not being cleared properly. Conditions can change quickly in winter and a strong case will need documentation of what conditions were actually like when the accident happened. Luckily, thanks to smartphones, it is relatively easy nowadays to take pictures of the accident scene. So long as it is safe to do so, injured victims should take photos as soon after an accident happens as possible, including not just of the specific accident site itself, but also of the general vicinity, which can help establish if any warning signs were placed nearby by the property owner.

Do not put off seeking medical attention, especially since injuries that feel minor at first can develop into more serious problems if left untreated, such as closed-head injuries. If paramedics or EMTs need to be called to the scene, be sure to get their names and contact information. Try to also get the contact information of any other witnesses who were in the vicinity, especially those who may be able to testify about the dangerous nature of the floor or walkway where the accident occurred. Be sure to also take any pictures of one's injuries.

Legal help

Finally, it is important to reach out to a personal injury attorney as soon after the accident happens as possible. An experienced attorney can help injured clients put together a strong case and potentially help them pursue compensation that can help them during their recovery phase.

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