Louisiana slip and fall cases are generally tough to prove. The plaintiff (accident victim) must show that a store or property owner negligently caused a fall or other injury. Even in cases where the hazard is inherent in the property itself (as opposed to a transit substance on the floor like water), an accident victim must still prove that the property owner knew or should have known of the defect and failed to take remedial measures.
The Louisiana law governing slip and falls due to substances “on” the floor—e.g., water, grease or oil—is La. R.S. 9:2800.6. La. C.C. articles 2317 and 2317.1 prescribe the plaintiff’s burden in cases involving accidents due to defects “in” the property itself—e.g, uneven concrete, jagged flooring, rotten handrails, or leaking roofs or air condition units. Although the plaintiff’s burden in 2317.1 is not as high as La. R.S. 9:2800.6, a plaintiff will need to prove that the defendant either knew or should have known of the dangerous condition before the accident under both Louisiana laws.
Thus, it is imperative that accident victims act quickly after injury to document the accident and scene. If an accident victim does not, it may be harder to find counsel willing to accept the case if the case goes “cold” and valuable evidence lost.
Accordingly, victims of accidents caused by substances “on” the floor or defects “in” property should take heed of the following tips, which are similar to Attorney Donald D’Aunoy Jr.’s post-car accident tips.
- Do not alter the scene after the accident. Do not clean or remove the hazardous condition that caused your injury. Instead, call for assistance from a store employee, manager or property owner. It is important that other people see the property or store’s hazardous condition so that it can be corroborated.
- If you are seriously injured, do not move. Avoid hurting yourself worse after an accident. In Louisiana you have a duty to mitigate your damages, which means that you must take steps to avoid worsening injuries. Yell or call for assistance so that paramedics can be called.
- Use your phone to document the scene. This tip assumes that you are not too injured. If you are severely hurt, seek medical attention immediately, or sit or lie patiently until paramedics arrive. But if you are able, be your own detective! Use your smart phone’s camera to picture the scene, hazardous condition(s), debris, and other hazards contributing to the accident. Your pictures will become evidence, so you have a duty to preserve them. But the pictures may prove your case. Also, be sure to photo any store or property accident forms that you complete. Picture any receipts from store purchases that day as well.
- Memorialize the names of any witnesses and attending store employees. It is important to identify and record the people that (1) witnessed your accident; (2) were in the area where your accident occurred immediately before your accident; and, (3) attended the scene after the accident. These witnesses may confirm your story and may need to testify at trial or in deposition.
- Demand that the store or property owner document the accident. You should demand that (1) an accident report be created; (2) all surveillance footage be preserved; and, (3) the accident be reported to the store or property’s insurance carrier. Creating a paper trail after your accident is crucial. Documents created in reference to the accident will be valuable in proving your case.
- Seek medical attention. It is important to seek medical treatment soon after an accident. This is important for two reasons: (1) it will help diagnose and treat your injuries, and (2) it will create evidence of your injury. If possible avoid going to an emergency room (ER) or riding in an ambulance. ER and ambulance bills can be extraordinarily high, and if you do not have health insurance or a method to pay, these providers may send your bills to collection or report delinquent payments to credit agencies. When possible seek emergency treatment from an “urgent care” facility; these providers are more reasonably priced.
- Contact a personal injury attorney before making insurance claims. It is recommended that you retain an attorney before starting a personal injury claim against the store or property owner. Remember: insurance companies are not on your side when you make a claim; making an injury claim creates an adversarial relationship between you and the insurance company and property owner. For example, insurance companies will often request that you give a recorded statement after an accident. The hope is that you will say something that hurts your case. But giving a recorded statement is not a requirement, and an experienced attorney will likely counsel you against giving one.
- Be Honest! Be honest with your attorney and medical providers. Lies and omissions can hurt your case. For instance, failing to disclose preexisting conditions will hurt your case because the insurance company will use the omission to attack your credibility. Credibility is key in slip and fall and hazardous property cases.
If you have suffered injury from a slip and fall or other hazardous property and have questions about medical treatment and settlement, contact Law Office of Donald D’Aunoy Jr., LLC today for a FREE consultation: 1000 Veterans Blvd #203, Metairie, LA 70005, Phone: 504-508-6414. Speak directly with an attorney. Attorney Donald D’Aunoy Jr. offers FREE house calls to personal injury clients throughout southeast Louisiana, including Algiers, Amite, Avondale, Belle Chasse, Bogalusa, Boutte, Chalmette, Covington, Cut Off, Destrehan, Edgard, Franklinton, Galliano, Gretna, Hammond, Harahan, Harvey, Houma, Jefferson, Kenner, Laplace, Lacombe, Larose, Luling, Lutcher, Madisonville, Mandeville, Marrero, Marrero, Morgan City, Montegut, New Orleans, Norco, Patterson, Pearl River, Ponchatoula, Prairieville, Raceland, River Ridge, Slidell, St. Rose, Thibodaux, Tickfaw, Westwego. Mr. D’Aunoy is well reviewed on sites such as Avvo and Facebook.