As the title of this edition of the Toronto Injury Lawyer Blog suggests, Winter Time is Slip and Fall time. When the weather starts to get cold, damp, slippery and icy, our law firm sees a spike in slip and fall related calls (sweet rhyme!). Some of these slip and falls result in some very serious injury. Being hospitalized and breaking bones as a result of a slip and fall is not only painful and debilitating; but it can also be very depressing, humiliating and embarrassing.
The reality is that in Ontario, these serious slip and fall claims happen, and we need to best understand how to deal with them so that you get the compensation you deserve.
So, without further a due, below is a quick sampler of the Goldfinger Guide to Better Understanding Slip and Fall Cases in Ontario. We have prepared the Goldfinger Guide in such a way that it’s easy to read, easy to understand, and hopefully; enjoyable as well (as enjoyable as you can get when it comes to reading about slip and falls).
- TAKE PHOTOS OF WHERE YOU FELL, AND/OR WHAT YOU FELL ON! I cannot stress this point enough. In many slip and fall cases, the injuries will speak for themselves. The bigger issue is where you fell, and what caused you to fall. Here’s a quick example of a Judge’s attitude towards a slip and fall involving a broken ankle on snow and ice. The medical records clearly show that Ms. Smith fractured her ankle as a result of a slip and fall. Her injuries are very serious. Ms. Smith needed to have three surgeries on her ankle, and the hardware installed by the orthopedic surgeon will have to remain in Ms. Smith’s ankle for a lifetime. The Judge and the Jury AGREE that Ms. Smith is seriously injured. The bigger question is HOW and WHERE did the fall happen; and whose fault is it? If Ms. Smith cannot establish liability against the property owner, then Ms. Smith doesn’t have much of a case. That’s why photos of the accident scene and the hazard which caused the fall are so important to slip and fall cases. Use your smartphone or have a loved one return to the scene of the accident with camera in hand if you didn’t capture a picture right away.
- WITNESSES MATTER! If some random stranger helps pick you up off the ground following a serious slip and fall, get that person’s name, telephone number and address. If you don’t, you will regret it. They will disappear, and they won’t be able to corroborate your story or version of events.
- DON’T RELY ON CAMERAS OR INCIDENT REPORTS! Some slip and fall accidents happen inside, where there may be security cameras. Those cameras may or may NOT be on. Those cameras may, or may NOT have captured your accident. Those cameras may or may NOT have footage of your fall which was deleted. Just because a store has some cameras, doesn’t guarantee that the footage was captured, preserved or even taken in the first place. Cameras are there to prevent and stop theft. They aren’t there for the safety and benefit of injured accident victims. The same applies to incident reports. The people completing the incident reports are the employees for the property owner who you will be trying to sue. Do you honestly think that their version of the events which they complete in the incident report is going to be favourable to your cause, or will it be favourable to their employer? Nine times out of ten, these incident reports are prepared by employees in such a way as to reduce the potential exposure and liability of their employer.
- WINTER BOOTS MATTER! Want to prevent a winter time slip and fall? Invest in a good pair of winter boots. Think of them as snow tires for your feet. Their treads and ankle support should help give you that grip you need to slippery surfaces. Sandals and sneakers are a “faux pas” in Ontario Courts for slip and fall cases. Ontario Courts have reduced damage awards for accident victims for failing to wear proper footwear that was appropriate for the weather conditions
- DON’T WAIT TO CALL A LAWYER! Memories fade as time passes. Evidence gets lost or misplaced. The scene of the accident can change entirely. If you’ve been seriously injured in a slip and fall, don’t wait around to pursue your legal remedies. Even if you aren’t comfortable getting a lawyer, you should at the very least talk to one so that you understand what your legal options are and so that your rights are protected. Don’t get hurt twice by delaying.
- GET PROPER MEDICAL ATTENTION! If your ankle is black and blue, and swelling up like a balloon following a slip and fall; it’s best to go to the hospital or see a doctor right away. Getting proper medical attention is not only helpful for your case; but it’s very important for your general health and safety. You are risking further injury by walking around on a totally bum ankle. If you sustain a second fall, the lawyer from fall #2 will blame your injuries on fall #1; and vice versa. You can causing yourself, and your case additional an unnecessary harm and complication.
- Apply for Sick Leave EI, Short Term Disability or even Long Term Disability, if those options are available to you. If you’re so injured that you can’t work, look in to making these applications so that you’re getting paid some money while you can’t work.
- DON’T TALK TO THE INSURER WITHOUT A LAWYER! A slip and fall causing serious injury will be investigated by an insurance adjuster. They will likely reach out and attempt to contact you in order to take a statement from you. There is nothing wrong with the insurer wanting to know more about the circumstances surrounding your accident. Problem is that by agreeing to a Statement without a lawyer present, or by sharing information with the adjuster without a lawyer, you’re exposing yourself and your case to even greater damages. It’s like going in to a gun fight without any weapon.