Personal-injury Claims: Important Options to Consider After a Public Accident
The idea of experiencing an accident in public is scary, but it’s smart to know what to do if such a situation were to occur. According to Murphy’s Law, “whatever can go wrong, will go wrong”, which means it’s wise to expect the worst. By keeping these simple guidelines in mind, you can be prepared to make smart decisions amid a high-stress situation.
Common Types of Public Injuries that Result in Claims
Slips and Falls
This is one of the most common types of accidents. While a slip and fall could be the result of your own clumsiness, it can sometimes happen due to the negligence of another party.
Some common reasons that another party might be at fault for your slip and fall:
- The footpath was uneven due to lifted or broken tiles or concrete slabs.
- The area was wet, sandy, overly buffed or otherwise slippery, and there were no warning signs present.
- Items were left on the footpath, such as electrical wires, tools or other equipment.
- The area had inadequate lighting or other hazardous conditions.
- Faulty manufacturing or general neglect led to damage to an area, such as loose screws on a metal stairwell or rotted wooden planks.
Something Falls on You
You could be injured due to something falling on you from above. This scenario is less likely, but it does happen, especially when construction work is being done on a portion of a space that people are still inhabiting.
If you’re bitten by a dog that is wandering free, the owner might be liable due to negligence. This generally applies to cases where the dog escaped its confines.
If the owner knowingly allowed the dog to roam free, then the case falls under something called “negligence per se”, which means that the owner broke a law that led to someone getting injured.
When You’ve Been Hurt in Public: Your Immediate First Steps
1. Assess Your Injuries
The first step after an accident is always going to be looking after your health. Depending on the nature of your injuries, you may not even be conscious during this time. If you’re not, someone in your nearby area will hopefully call an ambulance and take care of you until it arrives.
If you are conscious and have your wits about you, it’s still important to call an ambulance, or, if the injuries are minor, go to the hospital on your own. Don’t make the mistake of assuming you’re fine. You’re likely in shock, which means you might not feel the extent of your injuries yet. It’s also possible that minor injuries could become serious problems later.
The other big reason you need to visit the doctor immediately is documentation. If you decide to pursue a personal-injury claim, you’ll need to prove where and when you were injured. Having hospital records will show that you’re telling the truth.
2. Document Things
Along with ensuring that your injuries are documented, you might also want to get some pictures of the area where your accident occurred. This might not be possible due to being injured, but it’s always a good idea. Have a friend, family member or even a good Samaritan who happens to be nearby do it for you if you’re unable due to your injuries.
Depending on the nature of the situation, you also might want to contact the police and file a report. This applies to situations like dog bites, but it could be wise in some other situations as well.
3. Determining Your Next Steps
When your health is stabilized, and you’re able to think clearly again, you’ll have time to ponder what just happened to you. Did someone else’s mistake lead to your injury, and if so, do you want to file a claim?
You may already know without a doubt that your injury was caused by someone else’s negligent or criminal behavior. If so, then you will want to contact an experienced personal-injury attorney right away. If you’re unsure, it’s still wise to go ahead with a legal consultation. An attorney can discuss the details of your case and help you determine if moving forward with a claim is in your best interest.
When You Need a Good Lawyer: Your Most Experienced Option
When it comes to choosing a personal-injury attorney, your best bet is to go with someone who has experience with your type of injury. You’ll also want to look for someone who has handled that type of case in the courtroom. When speaking with attorneys, don’t be afraid to ask about qualifications. Discuss similar cases the attorney may have handled in the past and how they can use what they learned to help you in this case.
When You Can’t File a Claim: Unique Personal-injury Scenarios
There are a few select situations in which you can’t successfully file a personal-injury claim.
You can’t file a claim if your injury occurred when you were:
- Ignoring signs or verbal warnings.
- Behaving recklessly in some way that led to your injury.
- On a property where a dangerous situation occurred that the owner did not know about or have time to fix.
However, you might assume you were at fault when you were not. Contacting an attorney is always in your best interest. You’ll may be told that you don’t have a case, but there could also be a chance that you’re missing important information that only an attorney will be aware of.
Along with seeking medical attention and documenting the chain of events as much as possible, finding legal representation is one of the smartest things you can do.