What to do if you are injured in an accident: take notes, get witness corroboration and talk with a competent attorney
By Dean I Weitzman, Esq. on October 12th, 2010
Life is uncertain, and accidents do happen.
But if an accident happens to you and results in a serious injury, then you need to be your own best advocate and get the help and support that you need to collect damages for your medical bills, lost wages and for your pain and suffering.
That means taking all the right steps right after a serious injury so that you protect your rights and any future legal claims.
Take the recent example of a 49-year-old woman who worked as a client service representative for a company in an office in Philadelphia. The woman was injured when she walked out of a bathroom in her workplace and slipped on a wet floor, causing her to fall and suffer serious injuries.
She hired an attorney and sued for damages and eventually was awarded $5.5 million by a jury in a recent trial here, according to a story in The Legal Intelligencer. Her lawsuit was filed against the building maintenance company that was in charge of cleaning the bathrooms in the offices where she worked. The suit alleged that no warning signs were erected to let passers-by know about the wet floors.
The case is intriguing and a good example of how a blameless victim can be treated if they are injured in the workplace.
So after she was hurt, was the victim able to submit her claims and receive payments for her care and suffering without going to court?
No, not a chance.
Instead, the building maintenance company argued against the victim’s claims, stating in a defense memorandum that her fall was “un-witnessed’ and that the liquid on the floor was ‘unidentified,” according to the Legal Intelligencer story. “There is also no evidence to suggest the origin of the alleged substance; how long the substance was on the floor; or whether [the maintenance company] had notice, either actual or constructive,” the defendants replied, according to the story.
The maintenance company also stated that their employees don’t wet mop the floors near the bathrooms and that the cleaning is done after hours when no office employees are present. The insurance company and the employers argued that no such floor cleaning had ever occurred at the time of the injury.
That might have been the end of the case if the victim didn’t have the facts to back up her claims.
In fact, after the victim fell on the wet floor, a manager for the company where she worked assisted her and “wrote down the details of the incident at the time,” according to the news story. In addition, other employees provided testimony to challenge the claims by the defense that the cleaning wasn’t done when employees were present.
The victim’s injuries included a concussion and a chronic condition called complex regional pain syndrome, which causes swelling and pain in her extremities, the story said.
In the end, the victim received the damages that she rightfully deserved, but had eyewitness testimony from witnesses who could corroborate her claims not been available, it could have been her word against the building maintenance firm and their defense lawyers.
There are lessons to be learned here for anyone who potentially could be injured in an accident in the workplace or anywhere else.
First, if you are hurt, make sure that someone on the scene gets the names and contact information for anyone who might have witnessed your accident. Make sure that the incident is reported immediately and that someone takes copious notes to describe what has occurred and how you were hurt. If no one can do that immediately, be sure that you have someone help you to make these notes as soon as possible.
Ask witnesses to take photographs of the accident scene, even if it is just with a cell phone camera.
Take photos of every detail of the incident.
The more information you collect on your behalf, the better your case can be.
Insurance companies are going to seek to find all kinds of reasons to deny your claims, but you can counter that by having more information to bolster your account of what happened.
That’s where a great personal injury attorney also comes into play.
We here at MyPhillyLawyer handle personal injury cases like this every day for our clients.
Whether they are injured in workplace accidents, vehicle crashes, property incidents or any other kinds of accidents, we are there to stand with our clients and help them get the full damages and awards that they entitled to by law.
This victim didn’t do anything wrong. She simply walked out of the bathroom in her workplace and was injured due to the negligence of someone else.
If you or someone you love is injured in any kind of accident and suffers serious injuries, be sure that you collect the critical information to preserve your case right away, and then give us a call.
We are here to help you every day. When losing your personal injury claim is not an option, call MyPhillyLawyer and talk with one of our talented and caring attorneys.