What If I Didn’t Notice A Warning Sign Before The Slip And Fall?

It’s happened to all of us; you’re going about your daily business when all of a sudden you find yourself flat on the ground or floor. Only when you pick yourself up, do you see the warning sign marking the hazard. Do you still have a personal injury case? The answer is, well, maybe.

Many things can affect your potential for a successful claim. That is why it is important to consult an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible after your accident.

Whose fault was it?

The property owner or business and their insurance company will obviously say the fault was yours for not seeing the warning sign and taking the necessary precautions. Common arguments they will try to use against you include:

  • You failed to look where you were walking 
  • You failed to be aware of your surroundings, or
  • You failed to observe the posted warnings.

Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia (DC) are all contributory negligence jurisdictions. That means that if they can show you bear any responsibility for the accident, you are not entitled to recover damages.

You might think that is the end of the story, but not necessarily. There are circumstances where the warning sign may have been insufficient. These could include one or more of the following:

  • The property owner/business depended on the warning sign for an unreasonable length of time and should already have corrected the hazard.
  • The hazard was in an area where customers were likely to walk through to reach a popular area or item in the store.
  • There was inadequate lighting in the area that prevented you from being able to see the warning sign.
  • There were obstacles or barriers that caused you to be unable to avoid the area where the warning was posted.

It doesn’t take a lot for them to weaken your case. That is why it is so important for you to contact an experienced, knowledgeable personal injury attorney as soon as possible to discuss your options.

What should I do?

It is important to take steps to preserve evidence of the surrounding conditions and your fall.

  • If you are seriously injured, call 911 and get medical care immediately. Only if you are able, should you take the following steps.
  • Report the accident to the owner or manager, and have them file an incident report. If you fill out any forms or other papers, take a picture of them before you give them to the manager. You should assume that you will not be allowed to have a copy, if the business considers it part of their investigation.
  • Do not say anything that could be interpreted as you admitting the fault was yours.
  • Take pictures of the area where you fell. The condition that caused you to fall might be remedied very quickly, and a later photograph might not adequately show the area as it was when you fell.
  • If there are security cameras, ask to see the video. If they refuse, take steps to prevent them from destroying the video, such as sending a written letter to the business asking them to preserve the video.
  • If there were other people around who saw you fall, try to get statements from them, or at least, get their contact information.
  • Be sure to seek medical attention as soon as possible after the incident. This will help to establish a record of your fall. You might not feel that you suffered an injury, but something could become a problem later that may need treatment.

The Bottom Line

It’s important for you to protect yourself following a slip and fall or trip and fall accident in Maryland, Virginia, or DC. Insurance companies and defendants make the process stressful, because they will look for ways to derail your claim by arguing that you are responsible for what happened to you.

It’s in their best interests to argue that you were negligent, but they have to prove you were partially responsible. They will try to get you to make statements that they can later use against you, which is where an experienced personal injury attorney can guide you regarding communicating with insurance companies and can even deal with insurance companies on your behalf.

At Jennifer Porter Law, PLLC, we have decades of experience in personal injury cases. Contact us at (571) 532-9070 or online for a free, confidential consultation and case evaluation.