When a slip-and-fall or other occurrence on someone’s property causes you injuries, don’t expect the owner to step up and take responsibility. Premises liability issues aren’t always simple. Legal responsibility for your injuries isn’t automatic, so the owner and his insurance company have a right to complete a liability investigation before they decide to pay or not to pay.
The facts and legal issues ultimately determine a property owner’s responsibility to you as a visitor. Key facts are usually revealed during the early stages of a premises liability investigation. It’s important to develop the information in a timely manner as physical evidence and witness memories tend to fade with the passage of time.
Timing is Important in a Premises Liability Investigation
In an effort to document the facts immediately, a property owner may give you an “incident report” to complete at the accident scene. An insurance claims adjuster or another investigator may inspect the scene, obtain formal police or emergency reports, and talk to witnesses within hours of your injury. The investigator will likely call or visit your home to ask a series of questions which may seem harmless when in fact they are crucial to the investigation.
- Why were you on the property?
- What were you doing at the time?
- What condition on the property caused your injury?
Did you receive emergency medical attention?
To gain your cooperation, the investigator may explain that he needs your responses to properly handle your claim. That’s true, still it’s important to understand that the person asking all of those questions isn’t necessarily on your side. If you are in pain, emotionally unsettled, or if you are drowsy due to pain medication, you may provide inaccurate, inappropriate, or incomplete responses. Your answers to those simple questions might jeopardize your legal rights.
Serious injuries can change your life
A serious slip and fall or other premises-related accident can have serious consequences. You may incur costly medical bills for emergency and follow-up treatment. Ongoing lost wages may put a strain on your budget and change the way you live for years to come. Disfiguring scars may alter your appearance and permanent disabilities may prevent you from performing your job.
Depending on the facts and the legal issues, the property owner could be legally responsible your medical bills, lost wages, permanent disabilities, scars, and other injury-related damages. By the time your injuries are on the mend, the insurance company will have a complete understanding of your physical condition, your legal rights, and their insured’s responsibilities. It’s important that you do too, otherwise you run the risk of having your claim denied completely or being underpaid when it’s time to settle.
Do you need an attorney?
When you’re injured in a premises liability mishap, the injuries can disable you and the legal issues can complicate your life. Even if you have a basic understanding of those issues and choose to handle your case on your own, you should remember that consulting with a legal professional is always an option.
A personal injury attorney will conduct a timely investigation, protect your legal rights, help settle your case, or, if necessary, file a suit and present your case to a jury. An attorney will do whatever it takes to resolve your injury claim while you concentrate on getting well.