As a business owner, knowing what to do when someone slips and falls on your business property can be the difference between your insurance company proving you were not liable in a case verses paying for a claim you don’t owe.
In the state of Florida, an injured party has up to four years to file a lawsuit. Therefore, it is important to collect as much information about the slip and fall as quickly as possible. Then, report it to your insurance company so they can hold on to this information in case the injured party later files a claim or a lawsuit. The more time that goes by, the more people forget details of what happened and the harder it is to prove your company was not liable.
Here are some tips for you and your employees to do after a slip and fall:
• Ask if they’re ok. If they need medical treatment, make sure you call an ambulance. Most people just want someone to acknowledge they fell. This is also important so you can determine the cause of their slip and fall.
• Have them fill out an incident report. Make sure they fill it out themselves, if they are able, so it is in their own words. This will be important in the future if their statement changes. Be sure it’s as detailed as possible.
• Take scene photos. Get photos of what caused their slip and fall. If they slipped on water and there were “wet floor” signs be sure to get a picture of these warning signs as well. Don’t be afraid to take the photos of the injured party and their injuries.
• Collect witness information. Obtain all witnesses names; their contact information; and their written statement. This should include any employees that witnessed the fall as well. This is important because the employee may no longer work for you once the claim is filed.
• Save the surveillance video. If you have surveillance on the property that captured the slip and fall, save a copy. This should include a few minutes prior to the fall until the injured party leaves the scene. It is important to include any other customers that walked over the same area without an incident.
• Contact your agent and report the slip and fall right away. The incident should be reported to your insurance agent immediately so they can report it to the carrier. The carrier will keep the information on file for you in case the injured party later files a claim, gets an attorney, or files a lawsuit.
• Follow up the next day to see if they’re ok. Most injured parties just want to know that you care. Sometimes this can avoid a claim from being filed. If they fell and left saying they were ok, it’s ok to call them to check to see if they ever got treatment. If they did, sometimes they just want their medical bills paid and it can avoid them from getting an attorney. Most general liability policies have medical payment coverage, which is a “no-fault” coverage that covers their medical bills regardless of fault.
It’s important to keep a file with all this information for several years because the injured party may get treatment for a couple years before filing a claim or lawsuit.