An incident report can be critical evidence in your insurance claim after a slip and fall injury. Learn how and why to file an effective incident report.
Unintentional falls cause 37,455 deaths every year in the U.S. An estimated 20 to 30 percent of people who experience a slip and fall will suffer moderate to severe injuries such as bruises, hip fractures, or head injuries.¹
Further, more than 800,000 slip and fall victims end up in the hospital with severe injuries. These injuries often decrease mobility or hinder independent living.²
You deserve compensation in these types of accidents. Recovering money for your injury can help pay for your medical bills, make up for your lost wages, and even provide compensation for your physical and emotional pain and suffering.
However, proving that another person or a business is at fault for your injuries isn’t easy. You’ll need solid evidence to prove your claim. An incident report is a crucial piece of evidence in slip and fall cases.
You aren’t required to submit a report after a slip and fall, but doing so can increase your claim’s value. Here’s why incident reports are necessary for fair compensation and what you need to know to prepare an effective report.
Support Your Claim by Completing a Report
After a slip and fall, don’t talk about the accident with store management or property owners. Also, don’t attempt to resolve the situation with them right after it happens.
Talking about the accident, or yelling about it, won’t change what happened. Further, you could say something harmful to your claim. Instead, make sure the store is aware that the accident happened and that you have injuries. You can accomplish this by completing an incident report.
An incident report officially documents the details of your accident and provides proof that you fell. Many businesses have an incident report form where you simply fill in the blanks and check some boxes.
You can also create a report by writing a summary of how your accident took place.
Even if your injuries appear minor or you’re not sure you want to pursue a claim, you should still complete a report after your accident.
You’ll never have the same opportunity to document precisely what happened as you do immediately after a slip and fall.
Also, once the store or property owner reports the slip and fall to their insurance carrier, stories can change, and video surveillance is sometimes “lost,” leaving you on your own to prove what happened.
Avoiding Future Insurance Disputes
An incident report provides reliable and timely documentation about what happened. Filing a report helps eliminate doubt with the at-fault party’s insurance company about whether your slip and fall accident occurred.
Insurance adjusters want to pay as little as possible on your claim. If you don’t submit an incident report or wait to submit one, they will use this to their advantage. An adjuster could argue that the accident never happened or that your injuries are unrelated to your fall.
If you decide not to file a report soon after an accident, the decision could decrease your chances of receiving fair injury compensation in the future.
In addition, incident reports that aren’t completed as soon after your fall as possible are suspicious and often raise doubts about the validity of your claim.
An incident report provides strong proof of:
- A hazardous condition
- How that condition caused the slip and fall
- The victim’s injuries
How to File A Slip and Fall Incident Report
Depending on the location of your fall, a property owner may or may not ask you if you want to complete an incident report. Be sure to ask for one to complete if they don’t ask you.
You should complete a report as soon as you can, usually within a day of the incident. You don’t have to wait though. If you don’t feel like you’re seriously injured and want to complete your report while still on the premises, you can.
If you’re injured and need to seek medical treatment or are upset or scared, you can return to the place where your accident happened and complete one later. You shouldn’t try to fill out an incident report when you’re pressed for time, feeling tired, upset, or in pain.
After falling in a restaurant, store, or another public location, the owner or manager may have a boilerplate accident report form for you to complete. In other circumstances, such as a fall at a private residence, you might need to create a report.
However, don’t let the lack of a form keep you from filing an incident report. Instead, you can use a template or write your own report detailing what happened.
What to Include
When writing your slip and fall accident report, you need to tell details as thoroughly as you can. Whether you use a form or write your own, the following are crucial to documenting the facts and events in your slip and fall incident.
Include All the Relevant Facts:
- Date, time, and location of the incident
- Names and contact information for yourself, witnesses, and employees
- Events that led up to the incident
- Weather and environmental conditions
- Your specific injuries
- Damage to equipment or the area of the accident (if applicable)
Explain the Order of Events:
- Clearly describe the events that led up to your slip and fall
- Include the circumstances and the order of events up to and after the incident
- Recall specifics of when you first entered the premises and where your slip and fall occurred
- Even minor and seemingly insignificant details can be valuable in setting the scene
Give a detailed breakdown of what caused the accident, such as:
- A spill on the floor, ice, debris, cracked pavement, or poor lighting
- An object that blocked your vision
- Other circumstances occurring during the incident
Try to draft these details as soon as possible after the incident. Completing a report immediately after a slip and fall ensures that you won’t forget any critical details.
As you write the report, you must fully explain:
- The details of the incident
- The extent of your injuries
- How the careless actions or inactions of the property owner caused your injuries
Copies of the Report
Once you make a report, keep a copy of it. You should keep a copy with your medical records and other documentation relating to the accident.
If the property owner or their employee can’t or won’t give you a copy, take a photo of it with your smartphone camera.
In some cases, it might become necessary to obtain a copy of an incident report via a subpoena. A subpoena is a court order that requires someone to hand over certain documents.
Who Should You Give Your Report To?
You should typically give your report to the owner of the property where you fell. But the location of your slip and fall will determine specifically who you should give the report to.
If your accident was on:
- Commercial property, then give the report to the store manager, building manager, or property owner.
- Private residence or other private property, then give the report to the homeowner, property owner, landlord, or renter.
- Government property, then give the report to the on-site manager or administrator for that agency.
It’s a good idea to keep notes on the name of the person you gave the report to and the time and date. If there are future questions about whether you completed a report or not, this information is helpful.
When there are no official reports or forms to complete, you can write a detailed description of what happened before, during, and after your slip and fall.
Example of a Written Incident Report
On Saturday morning, November 14, 2020, at 10 a.m., I entered Grand Eagle in Rochester to get groceries. I went to the deli and selected a few items and then went to the produce department.
While there, I reached to get a bag to put some onions in when I unexpectedly slipped. I attempted to grab onto my cart’s handle, but I couldn’t catch myself. I fell backward, hitting my head on the side of the produce cooler. I landed on my back on the hard tile floor.
I immediately experienced a shooting pain that went down the center of my back. It went to my lower back and then down into the back of my legs. I felt shooting pains and numbness at the same time. The pain traveled from my back to my neck and into the back of my head.
A produce employee came over to check on me. I explained to him that I was unable to get up from the fall. He called a couple of other store employees over and asked one of them to call an ambulance.
As the paramedics lifted me up off the floor, they said there were squashed pieces of produce on the floor. They were cherries and they were the cause of my fall.
As soon as the paramedics mentioned the cherries, a manager told the employees to clean up the mess and use a wet floor sign in the area. As the paramedics wheeled me out of the grocery store on a stretcher, I noticed the employees cleaning the area.
As soon as I got to the hospital, I was treated. The doctor ordered x-rays and an MRI to determine the type and severity of my injuries.
The doctor diagnosed me with a damaged disc. He told me the disc was pressing on the nerves in my spine, causing the pain and numbness to radiate throughout my back, neck, and legs.
Witness Contact Information:
477 Ohio Street
Denver, CO 80220
1754 Berry Avenue
Denver, CO 80220
My Contact Information:
558 Parker Road
Denver, CO 80220
Police and Ambulance Reports
If the police came to the scene of your accident or you left in an ambulance, there will be other reports available to use as evidence in your injury claim. These include both police and ambulance reports.
- Police reports will provide a trusted outsider’s view of what happened.
- Ambulance reports can describe your injuries, the condition paramedics found you in, and your symptoms.
While these reports are helpful, though, they aren’t a substitute for your own report. Don’t rely on them to explain your slip and fall. You’re the one who experienced it and has the resulting physical and emotional damages.
Your report is vital because it provides information from your point of view. It also might contain details that the police or paramedics didn’t know about.
An Attorney Can Help Settle Your Claim
Suppose you have injuries from a slip and fall accident that could have been prevented if the property owner or manager had taken reasonable action to prevent harm to others. In that case, consider speaking with a personal injury attorney who handles slip and fall claims.
An injury lawyer can help you recover compensation for your damages, such as medical bills, lost wages, humiliation, loss of enjoyment of life, and pain and suffering. Your lawyer can make the at-fault company hand over important evidence you can’t get without a subpoena, like security camera footage, incident reports from similar accidents, and safety inspection records.
Most injury attorneys don’t charge slip and fall victims for their initial consultation. If you decide to hire an attorney, you’ll find most are willing to work on a contingency fee basis. You won’t need money upfront because your attorney only gets paid if your claim settles or they win your case in court.
Time is of the essence in slip and fall claims. Don’t wait to reach out to an experienced slip and fall lawyer for help.
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