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What Should A Person Do To Preserve the Scene Or the Evidence?

People must preserve the scene for their future cases.

People must do three things when they are injured. Firstly, they need to file an accident report with the store. Secondly, they must get the names of anybody who came to the scene, whether it is a customer or a sales associate. This is essential because a lot of times in retail stores, the sales associates are there one day and gone the next.

Thirdly, they must either have somebody take photos, make sure the store takes photos,  note if there is any video surveillance in the area and ask the store to preserve it. If this evidence is not captured initially, then the case is eliminated because the burden of proof is on the injured person.

Do Many People Who Call Do Not Know Why They Were Hurt?

Probably 50 percent of cases do not get past the initial phone call because people don't know why they fell. Often, people are severely injured in slip and falls, but when asked what happened and why, they do not know.

A lawyer cannot help if people don't know why they were injured. If people were asked if they felt anything on the ground or on their pants or clothes and they don't know, then a lawyer cannot help.

If a person cannot articulate and tell their lawyer what happened or why they were injured, then the store is not liable or responsible. This is not a strict liability claim. A store is not an insurer of its customer's wellbeing; the store only has to act reasonably under the circumstances.

Do Stores Cover Up Or Get Rid Of Evidence?

That is a difficult question to answer, we like to think not, but I have had cases where I've been told for years that a video of the incident did not exist only to learn on that eve of trial that a video did exist.

Nobody thinks of filing a claim, especially when they fall down, because most people are embarrassed and want to get up as fast as they can and go about their business.  However, a person who falls has the responsibility to document what actually happened.

After a person falls, he needs to look around to see if there was a video. Many times after someone has been injured in a store or commercial property, the video camera will either get taped over or not capture the incident. Alternately, they might say that the footage was not usable. There are sometimes issues with a lack of evidence, either on the part of the store or the part of the individual.

What Are Some Of The Common Back Stories of How People Hurt Themselves?

In grocery stores, people generally hurt themselves when something has fallen off the shelf, something has broken and was not cleaned up properly, or there is a problem with the displays. For instance, in a number of cases, the meat cooler or the refrigeration unit near the cash register leaks, allowing a dangerous condition to exist.

The issue is this: a lot of times, the accident is not the responsibility of the grocery store. Oftentimes, the coolers are the responsibility of the vendor, which makes these cases more complicated.

Think of it this way: there is a cooler near the cash counter with coke products and Dasani water, placed there by Coca-Cola. The delivery person is supposed to inspect and fill the cooler on a daily basis. In this case, the store may not be responsible. An injured person will have to  file a claim against the store and the vendor.

Many times, the vendor arranges products in an aisle of the store, like cans of dog food aligned in a stack.

For these reasons a person injured in a store must get at much information as possible so the lawyer can put the proper parties on notice of the claim.

What Should Someone Immediately Do When They Get Hurt?

Most major stores have policies and procedures about what to do if somebody claims injury, and one such policy is to photograph the area.

I've dealt with these issues often. As such, I am familiar with the store polices and I can name at least 15 stores that require their sales associates to take photos of the area and send them to risk management. It's essential to do this or to ask anyone with a camera in the area to take a photo of the scene. As time goes on, memories fade by photos will properly document the scene of the accident.

Are the Photographs Admissible If the Person Took Them, Or Does the Store Have to Take Them?

In most states and in Indiana, the only thing a person must testify is that the picture fairly and accurately represents what the picture portends to represent.

Therefore, if someone fell and said he took the photo when he got up; if garbage is on the floor, and the image fairly and accurately represents what the floor looked like after the person fell, then the pictures are admissible.

How Long Is Too Long to Wait to Get Medical Attention?

This is a loaded question. A person must get checked out immediately if he is claiming an injury. If the date or the time of an incident is point one, then the person should get medical attention as close to point one as possible.

This is better for two reasons. Firstly, he could be really hurt and not know. Secondly, the further away he gets from the date of the incident, the more likely the other side will argue, saying that if there was a real injury, the person would have received medical care sooner.

If someone gets medical attention within 72 hours of an accident, then an insurance company or lawyer cannot make a big deal because the average person would say that he thought he was going to be okay directly after the accident, and that when he woke up the next day, he was sore. Afterwards, he made an appointment to see the doctor. Naturally, it took a day or two to get in.

What Is The Mindset Of People Who Call For These Kinds Of Claims?

The problem with proof in a slip and fall claim is that when most people fall down, no matter how injured they are, they get up and say things that ultimately hurt their cases. They always state that they are fine, and they try to continue with their lives.

It is natural they want to be okay, because they are embarrassed about the fall.

How Does Anyone Pay Attention In An Extremely Cluttered Store?

This question is important. The client can tell the attorney or send an investigator to take some photos. However, nothing takes the place of just sitting at the cluttered store and watching.

For more information on Slip and Fall Accidents, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you're seeking by calling (219) 874-4878 today.

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