Learn how taking photos and video after a slip and fall can help boost your injury compensation. Get the settlement you deserve using photographic evidence.
A picture is worth a thousand words. This is especially true when it comes to a slip and fall injury claim.
If you’ve been injured in a fall on someone else’s property, you could be entitled to compensation. But before you see a dime, you have to prove the property owner or store management was negligent.
In the context of a slip and fall accident, photos can show how objects were arranged before a fall, the weather conditions involved, the true nature and extent of your injuries, and even the shoes you were wearing when you were hurt.
Photographs and videos are compelling evidence that can convince an insurance adjuster to settle your slip and fall claim, rather than risk fighting an injury lawsuit.
Your Well-Being Comes First
It’s important to take photos after a slip and fall accident. However, your well-being is the top priority in the first crucial minutes after a fall.
If you’ve been injured in a slip and fall event, take care of yourself before worrying about snapping pictures or collecting evidence.
- Never refuse medical care at the scene. If someone has already called an ambulance, let the paramedics look you over. If they want to transport you to the hospital, let them take you.
- Get prompt medical attention. If you’re not treated at the scene of your injury, go to an emergency room or urgent care center if you need immediate attention.
- Contact your doctor. If immediate medical care is not required, it’s a good idea to schedule an appointment with your doctor. An examination may uncover an injury you weren’t aware of.
- Connect the fall to your injury. Tell your medical providers exactly how you fell, and when and where you were injured.
You don’t have the basis for an injury claim without medical records that connect a physical injury to the slip and fall. Embarrassment and inconvenience won’t count for much to the insurance adjuster unless accompanied by a bodily injury.
A delay in seeking medical attention can sink your claim. The insurance company will argue that your injuries happened after you left the scene of the slip and fall.
Severe slip and fall injuries should be handled by an experienced personal injury attorney to ensure the best financial outcome for the victim.
Make sure you take care of your health first in any slip and fall event. Use your phone to take photos or videos if you’re able, or ask someone else to take pictures for you.
You might also be able to come back to the scene later to take pictures or send someone you trust to take pictures and video of the location.
Essential Pictures You Can Take
Each slip and fall incident is different. The circumstances will determine what pictures you should try to take. With that said, there are some details that you should always try to capture.
Most people these days carry smartphones that can take good-quality photographs and videos. Take advantage of both functions when gathering photographic evidence.
Almost every injury claim will benefit from pictures and videos of:
- The scene of the fall
- Close-ups of the hazard
- Your injuries
- The clothes and shoes you were wearing
You can’t take too many pictures and videos of the hazard that caused your fall and the surrounding area. There may be significant details captured in the pictures that you or your attorney will notice later.
Pictures of the Scene of the Accident
Pictures of the scene of your accident are vital because they help paint a general view of your entire slip and fall event.
Photos and videos can prove the presence of a hazardous object or the failure of the business owner to correct a dangerous condition.
When you take pictures and videos, make sure to capture:
- The hazard that caused your fall
- The floor or ground surrounding the hazard, including whether it was dirty, icy, or uneven
- Any slip marks or wreckage from the fall, if things were knocked over
- Any handrails or banisters, if the fall happened on steps
- The surrounding area, to provide context
- How the scene was lit, especially if it was indoors
- The weather, if the fall was outdoors
It is important not to move anything before taking your pictures. Moving an object may suggest that you changed the scene before taking the photos. Removing or disrupting the evidence will only hurt your claim.
Adjusting the scene for one of your photos can undermine your credibility. Further, even if you only adjust objects in one picture, all of your photos, no matter how genuine, will be treated with suspicion. You don’t want to be accused of staging your injury.
Document Your Injuries
Taking pictures of your injuries will help document their extent and severity. Start taking pictures of your injuries as soon as possible after an accident. Continue taking pictures throughout your recovery, to show the progression of swelling, cuts, bruises, and scrapes.
Photos of your injuries make it harder for the property owner to say that you exaggerated your injuries.
As with the scene of the fall, take photos of your injuries from multiple angles. If you were wearing clothing that got torn or bloodied in the fall, take pictures with the clothing on and off.
Your medical records help describe injuries. But photos capture them in all of their detail.
Take Photos of What You Were Wearing
Pictures of the clothing and shoes you were wearing when you fell can be critical evidence for your injury claim.
Property owners often try to say that a victim’s clothes or shoes helped cause the accident. Photographs of your clothing can help prove that you didn’t contribute to the circumstances of your injury.
Ideally, you’ll have pictures taken at the scene that show your clothing and footwear. The pictures will illustrate for a claims adjuster – or a jury – that your clothes did not add to the cause of your injuries. So, make sure you take photos of all of your clothes, even if no clothing was torn or damaged.
Of course, color pictures of your torn and bloodied clothing can be dramatic evidence of your injuries and suffering.
The clothes and shoes you wore at the time of the slip and fall are important evidence. Don’t wash, mend, or throw them away, even if they are soiled with blood, vomit, or other substances.
After photographing your clothes and shoes, put them in a storage bin or bag. Label the container with the date of your injury. Put your bin or bag of evidence in a safe place until your injury claim is resolved.
You can send photos of the clothes to the at-fault person’s insurance company, but don’t hand over actual clothing evidence to anyone other than your attorney.
Who Takes the Photos
You can take your own photos and videos after a fall injury if you’re able. If you can’t move around, or you’re in too much pain, or the scene is too dangerous, you may have to rely on others.
If you’re alone and need immediate medical attention, make sure you get that attention before worrying about any photos. You can always return to the scene of the accident and take pictures when you’re well.
Friends and Bystanders
If you’re injured in the accident, try and have someone who was with you take the photos. A reliable friend or family member can take the pictures immediately after the event took place.
If you don’t have a companion with you when the fall occurs, it’s okay to ask a bystander to take some pictures for you. Just make sure you get that person’s name and contact information.
These days, many folks are quick to grab their smartphones and film any serious event that happens in a public place. Ask anyone who might have pictures of the event or its aftermath to share them with you.
Example: A Slip and Fall in a Grocery Store
Lisa is shopping in a grocery store. While walking through the frozen foods aisle, she looks at the coolers and doesn’t notice the pool of melted ice cream on the floor. She slips on the puddle, falls, and breaks her arm.
The store manager calls an ambulance and asks Lisa to stay still until the paramedics arrive.
Another shopper, Mrs. Jones, offered to stay with Lisa until the ambulance came. While still on the floor, Lisa manages to use her cell phone to call her husband. Then she hands her phone to Mrs. Jones and asks her to take pictures.
Mrs. Jones took pictures of Lisa while she was lying in the aisle. She got photos of Lisa’s injured arm, her clothes, the floor, and the ice cream. She also took a video of the paramedics putting Lisa on a stretcher before handing the phone back to Lisa.
When Lisa filed an insurance claim against the grocery store, the store argued that there was no spill. They went on to say that they were not responsible for the accident because Lisa fell over her own feet.
Lisa not only had pictures, but she had a written statement from Mrs. Jones to verify when and why the photos were taken.
When Lisa provided her pictures, the insurance company quickly settled her claim. The adjuster did not want to risk Lisa’s pictures being used as evidence in a lawsuit.
Gather Photographic Evidence Quickly
It’s essential to try and take pictures of a slip and fall accident soon after it occurs.
Waiting – even for just a day – allows property owners a chance to change the scene. They can fix the hazard that caused the accident or destroy any evidence of the fall.
In addition, store owners will typically want to clean up an accident scene to keep other patrons safe. Even if their concerns for public safety are genuine, that doesn’t mean it won’t hurt your claim. If you don’t take pictures of where the accident occurred before the area gets cleaned up, evidence will get lost or destroyed.
Falls that happen outside also require timely action.
This is especially true if the weather played a factor in the accident. Ice, dirt, wet leaves, and moist, slippery wood can all contribute to an outside fall. These conditions can disappear quickly with a turn in the weather or a change in temperature.
Imagine a fall caused by an icy walkway. If the injured victim waits a week to take a photo of it, an increase in temperatures may cause the ice to melt away.
Asking for Surveillance Videos
Many private business owners run indoor and outdoor surveillance video cameras that may not be obvious to customers. Surveillance video footage can be invaluable to your claim. Not only can the video film prove when and where you were injured, but the footage may also prove the owner’s negligence that caused your fall.
It’s best to assume there is a security camera that captured your slip and fall, even if you don’t see a camera. Don’t take the store clerk’s word for it, either. After all, the cameras keep an eye on store employees, too.
After a slip and fall injury, protect yourself by asking the property owners or management to preserve, meaning to keep safe, any documents or materials – including surveillance camera footage – that might support your claim.
You can notify the property owner of your intent to file an injury claim while you are still recovering from your injuries. The sooner, the better, before important videos are taped over or lost.
We make it easy for you with a Sample Injury Claim Notification Letter that includes language asking for the preservation of security camera films and other important evidence.
It’s one thing to ask a business to preserve surveillance videos. It’s another thing to get them to provide a copy to you. Businesses are not legally obligated to voluntarily hand over their internal films, files, reports, or any other records.
However, your attorney can force them to turn the evidence over with a subpoena.
A subpoena is a legal document that compels parties and witnesses to testify in a matter or turn over important evidence. Subpoenas are usually prepared by an attorney and then issued by the Court.
The Importance of Injury Photos and Videos
Taking photos after your accident can go a long way towards showing that you deserve compensation.
Premises liability law requires owners to take care of their property, and they have to take steps to keep visitors safe. If they fail to do so, they are responsible for an accident victim’s injuries.
Proving that the property owner was responsible is not always easy. Many owners will deny responsibility and try to say that the victim was somehow at fault for the accident. Sometimes owners even say that you deliberately slipped and fell to make a fake injury claim.
Photographs and videos taken during or after a fall support the validity of your claim. Images can make it clear that there was a dangerous hazard on the property, and they can show that the danger was not readily apparent.
Photos can also suggest that the owner could have fixed a danger, but did not.
Pictures Can Prove the Store Destroyed Evidence
As mentioned above, store owners or managers have a legal duty to keep their businesses safe.
Owners know that they can face responsibility for an accident, and as a result, they may have to pay compensation out of their store’s earnings. Managers may also face discipline from a boss if they caused or failed to prevent an injury.
An owner or manager trying to avoid costly liability after an accident might deliberately destroy evidence.
Evidence is destroyed when a property owner decides to:
- “Lose” surveillance footage or “accidentally” tape over it
- Clean up a spill without taking pictures of it
- Fix broken stairs or railings after an accident takes place
- Throw away broken merchandise that contributed to a fall
- Tear up, throw out, and replace rugs or carpets that tripped someone
Destroying evidence like this is called spoliation. Many people are surprised to learn that stores would deliberately destroy evidence, especially since spoliation can carry heavy penalties.
Case Summary: Wal-Mart Punished for Destroying Video Evidence
In 2015, a Wal-Mart Sam’s Club displayed an assembled lawn swing in front of the store. Customer Roberto Rivera-Mojica sat down on the swing, then fell to the floor when the swing broke. Roberto died from head injuries he suffered from the fall.
Through her attorney, Roberto’s daughter Lainey Rivera filed a lawsuit against Wal-Mart. The lawsuit said that Wal-Mart was to blame for Roberto’s injuries and death because the swing was already damaged when he sat on it, and there was no warning sign telling customers not to sit on the swing.
Wal-Mart denied that the swing was broken and denied that the swing caused Roberto to fall.
Rivera’s attorney sought copies of the store’s surveillance video to prove the broken swing caused Roberto’s fall. However, any videos of the event had disappeared. Rivera’s attorney asked the court to sanction, meaning punish, Wal-Mart for destroying the videos.
The judge decided that Wal-Mart deliberately destroyed the evidence. She pointed to 18 other cases where Wal-Mart had committed the spoliation of evidence.
As punishment, the judge not only forced Wal-Mart to pay part of Rivera’s legal fees, she ordered that the trial jury would be instructed to assume that the destroyed surveillance video would have helped prove Rivera’s case.
Soon after, Wal-Mart settled with Rivera, rather than risk going to trial.
Spoliation of evidence can take place in any type of injury claim, including slip and fall cases.
Your photographic evidence from the accident can help expose this practice. By showing that the store destroyed evidence, you can hold them both accountable and responsible.
Practical Tips for Taking Evidence Photos
There are a few things that you can do to make sure the pictures you take after a slip and fall event are reliable and accurate.
The odds are that the only camera you’ll have available is your smartphone. Smartphones take great pictures, and all of the following tips will apply.
Shoot from Multiple Angles: When taking photos and videos, capture details from multiple angles. Shots from multiple angles can provide a full picture of the scene and the relation of one object to another.
Take Two Identical Pictures – One With Flash and One Without It: Poor lighting can lead to slip and fall accidents. The lighting can be strong evidence that it was not your fault that you fell. However, the lack of light can make it difficult to see anything in a photograph.
Even though the photo doesn’t show much, keep it. Take another picture of the same objects, but with the flash on. This way, you have a bright image of the scene, as well as a darker image that shows how poorly the lighting was.
Make Sure the Image is Sharp: Blurry images won’t prove much. Pictures can be blurry if you move the camera while the camera shutter closes. They can also be blurry if the camera focuses on the wrong thing. Hold the camera steady and review each image before moving on.
Don’t Use a Filter: Some smartphone cameras have filters that you can use to make a picture look neater or more artistic. Filters can change the lighting and alter the image, which might raise suspicion about the accuracy of your pictures.
Save Them In More Than One Place: Soon after you take the pictures, back them up by saving them on another device, like your computer. You can also send them to yourself in an email. This way, if your smartphone breaks or gets lost, you’ll still have your evidence.
Beware of Glare: Always review the pictures you take. If there is any glare, it can make it impossible to see what’s in the film. This often happens when you take photos of a spill on the floor of a store. Glare from overhead lights can overwhelm the picture and hide the spill.
Copies of Photos Can Be Enlarged and Cropped: Some photos have distracting backgrounds, or maybe they were taken from too far away. These can be enlarged or cropped to focus on what matters. However, you’ll want to keep the original photo to show that it was not misleadingly edited.
Take Color Photographs: Don’t take black and white photographs. The color in the image can help to show what the scene looked like.
Get the Legal Help You Need
Severe injury claims are best handled by an attorney to get anywhere near a fair amount of compensation. Insurance adjusters are trained in tricks and tactics designed to minimize high-dollar injury claims.
If you’ve recovered from relatively minor injuries and the insurance company is willing to cover your damages, you can probably negotiate your own slip and fall claim.
You’ll need legal help with your claim if the business doesn’t accept liability for your injuries, or worse, puts all the blame on you despite your strong photographic evidence.
Sometimes all it takes is a call from your attorney for the adjuster to change their tune. A skilled attorney can use the pictures and videos from the scene to help prove that the property owner’s negligence caused your injuries.
Your attorney also can force the at-fault business to hand over their surveillance camera footage and other evidence you wouldn’t be able to get to on your own.
Most injury attorneys offer a free initial consultation and will agree to work on a contingency fee basis. This means they don’t charge a fee unless they win a settlement or court award for you.
There’s no obligation or cost to find out what a good personal injury attorney can do for you.
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