Being injured in a public place is never on the agenda when running errands at the grocery store or shopping for clothes at the mall. Since these are activities that we partake in on a frequent basis, it is natural for us to go about them with a decreased awareness of potential safety hazards. While it seems unlikely to happen, the National Safety Council reported 1 in 22 people experienced a preventable injury in a public place in 2020. Unfortunately, this number can potentially rise as more people begin to leave their houses on a more frequent basis.
Whether it is due to a trip/slip and fall accident, a head injury, or a parking lot accident, the unexpected nature of an injury occurring in a public place can leave victims unsure of what to do. If you have been injured because of an accident that took place in a restaurant, mall, store, or another public place, there are procedures you must do to protect your claim. Not following them could seriously harm your case or greatly reduce the amount of money that you may be able to recover for your injuries and damages.
The five steps you must take to protect your claim after an accident in a public place can be demonstrated by an injury I received while on a trip to Seattle with my daughters. We visited the Space Needle and decided to have lunch in the restaurant. While waiting for our food to be served, I was asked by the waiter serving the table behind us if I could move my chair in. As I turned to move my chair, our waiter cracked me in the nose with my daughter's plate of food.
I began to see stars which indicated how hard I had been hit. The waiter apologized profusely and, noticing that my nose was bleeding, asked me if I would like to file an accident report. I told him I would. I then went about taking the steps that you should take which help to preserve a personal injury claim.
1. Taking Pictures
First and foremost, I began to take pictures. I took a picture of my nose, the bandages that the waiter had brought over and left at our table, and our location in the restaurant. You must take many pictures of the accident site and of what caused your injury. Did you slip and fall or trip and fall? If so, take pictures of everything that caused you to slip or trip. If there was some type of defect which could be a hole in a walkway, a carpet that is loose or coming up from the floor, or something else that caused you to slip or trip then take pictures of those conditions.
2. Fill Out an Accident Report and Take a Picture of It
Ask for a manager and fill out an accident report. Tell the manager that you need a copy of your completed form and never give the accident report back to them unless you have already taken a picture of it with your cell phone.
The restaurant's security guard provided me with the accident form that I asked to fill out. I filled in my information and indicated that our waiter had struck me with a plate, hitting me on my nose which was currently bleeding and swollen. I then took a picture of the completed form.
Next, I gave it to the waiter and asked to receive a copy of it. The waiter returned with the manager who told me that it was a private internal document and that I could not receive a copy of it. I told him that I was entitled to receive a copy and he insisted that he could not obtain a copy of that document for me. I explained to the manager that he was obligated to give me a copy of his card, on which he was to write that his waiter struck me with a plate. After that, he returned with the card indicating that his waiter caused my injury.
3. Seek Medical Attention if Severely Injured
You should request medical care and attention if you are not feeling well so that you can be taken to a hospital and treated for your conditions. While filling out my accident form, I made sure to cross out the line that said I was choosing not to go for immediate medical care and was waiving any claim that I had against the restaurant.
4. Obtain the Contact Information of Any Witnesses
It is advisable that you take pictures of the individuals that were present and receive the names and contact information of any witnesses. Thankfully, I had my daughters and other restaurant guests nearby who saw what happened.
5. Contact an Experienced Connecticut Personal Injury Lawyer
You should speak to an injury attorney as soon as possible to best understand your rights and learn more about what you should and should not be doing. Waiting to contact a lawyer can decrease the value of your case or destroy it completely once the statute of limitations has passed. Never speak with the insurance adjuster representing the owner of the property until you speak with an experienced Connecticut personal injury lawyer.
The attorneys at Hastings, Cohan & Walsh have years of experience representing clients who have been injured in a public place. Working on a contingency fee basis to develop the case, our clients do not have to come up with any money out of pocket to hire one of our experienced Connecticut personal injury lawyers.