How to File a Slip and Fall Claim: 10 Steps to Build a Strong Case

Here are the 10 essential steps to filing a slip and fall injury claim with the at-fault party’s insurance company. Get the compensation you deserve.

Falls account for approximately 8 million hospital emergency room visits per year in the U.S., representing the leading cause of all visits (21.3%).¹

Slip and fall victims can file an injury claim with the property owner’s insurance carrier to seek compensation. Insurance claims can seem daunting if you’re unfamiliar with the process. Here we walk you through 10 critical steps in the slip and fall insurance claim process.

Immediately after a slip and fall accident, it’s imperative that you protect yourself by taking action.

10 Key Steps for Building a Slip and Fall Case:

  1. Seek Prompt Medical Treatment
  2. Report the Incident to the Business Owner
  3. Gather Evidence of Fault and Injury
  4. Send Injury Claim Notification Letters
  5. Organize Your Injury Claim File
  6. Use a Calendar to Track Dates
  7. Calculate Your Slip and Fall Claim Value
  8. Send a Demand Letter to the Insurer
  9. Negotiate Your Claim with the Adjuster
  10. Finalize Your Settlement Agreement

Bonus: Options If Claim Negotiations Fail

Step 1: Seek Prompt Medical Treatment

If an ambulance was not called to your accident scene, go to your primary health care provider, hospital emergency room, or a walk-in urgent care clinic as soon as possible.

Never refuse or delay medical treatment after a slip and fall. Without medical records, you won’t get far with an injury claim. You must have proof of physical injuries caused by the fall.

Get prompt medical attention even if you don’t immediately experience any pain or symptoms. Accident victims often experience some type of slip and fall injury without knowing it. The adrenaline spike after an accident can mask serious injuries.

Explain what happened to your medical provider, including when, where, and how you fell. This creates a record directly linking your injuries to the slip and fall. Continue seeking treatment until your doctor tells you it’s no longer necessary. Always follow the directions given by your health care provider.

If you stop seeking treatment or ignore a doctor’s advice, a claims adjuster will likely deny your claim or offer a low-ball settlement because you failed to mitigate your damages.

Once you do receive treatment, you’ll soon get medical bills from every treatment provider. You must keep these bills as they’ll form some of the most important evidence in your slip and fall injury claim. Without proof of a physical injury, your claim will likely fail.

Step 2: Report the Incident to the Business Owner

An incident report provides evidence that you slipped and fell on someone’s property. Complete this report as soon as practically possible after your fall.

The worst thing you can do is pick yourself up from the floor and leave without telling anyone you were injured. The insurance company will argue that you were not injured on the insured’s property.

Most businesses have their own incident report they use when a customer slips and falls on the property. These reports are typically generic forms where an accident victim fills in some blanks, checks some boxes, and summarizes what took place.

If a company does not have a standardized report, you can create your own incident report. Keep a copy for your records and send the original to the property owner or manager.

Step 3: Gather Evidence of Fault and Injury

As the victim of a slip and fall accident, you have the burden of proof. This burden means you must provide evidence that another party was at fault for causing your fall and related injuries.

You also need to prove that you didn’t do anything to contribute to the circumstances surrounding your fall.

By itself, a slip and fall injury is not enough to establish the property owner’s liability. For your case to succeed, the law requires you to prove that a “hazard” existed on the property and that the property owner knew or should have known of the danger.

Examples of dangerous conditions that support a slip and fall claim:

Try to gather as much evidence as you can immediately after your slip and fall. If injuries prevent this from happening, return to the accident scene as soon as you practically can.

You must prove when and where you fell, and prove the scope of your injuries to the insurance adjuster.

Evidence proving the fall occurred can include:

  1. PhotosPhotos are invaluable to a fall claim. Take pictures of your injuries, torn or bloodied clothing, and the hazard that caused your fall.
  2. Weather reports – Get your hands on a weather report for the date of the accident if anything weather-related contributed to your fall.
  3. Witness statements – It helps if others can back up your story. Ask anyone who saw your fall, helped you, or knew about the hazard, for their statement.

Evidence of your injuries may include:

Step 4: Send Injury Claim Notification Letters

Your first important letter serves to notify the property owner’s insurance company that you intend to seek money for your injuries. You may have to send the notification to the property owner first to get their insurer’s information.

The notification letter includes:

  • Your full name and contact information
  • The date and location of your slip and fall injury
  • A general account of what happened
  • A brief description of your injuries
  • The property owner’s name and contact information

Your letter to the business or property owner will include spoliation language that warns the owner not to alter or destroy any evidence pertaining to your injury case.

Notify the insurance company of your intent to file an injury claim early in the process. Don’t wait until your medical treatment is complete. Keep it simple. It’s too early to argue the merits of your claim or to discuss a settlement.

If someone from the insurance company calls to ask for a recorded statement, consider talking to a person injury attorney first. If you decide to give a statement, wait until you are prepared.

Step 5: Organize Your Injury Claim File

Once you officially file a claim, you’ll need to create a claim file to help organize all your documents and evidence that supports it. You might want to purchase an accordion-style folder, the kind with lots of dividers inside. You can also use three-ring binders.

Organize the folder or binder into sections that correspond to the different aspects of your claim.

Your file should have sections for:

  • Medical bills
  • Medical records
  • Incident or accident reports
  • Photographs
  • Witness statements and contact information
  • Correspondence to and from the insurance company

Know your claim inside and out. You stand a better chance of convincing the adjuster that you’re entitled to compensation if you know every fact relevant to your case.

Review records and photos to get reacquainted with specific details. If you don’t understand medical terms in your treatment records, ask your medical care provider to explain.

Step 6: Use a Calendar to Track Dates

In addition to a claim file, it’s helpful to keep a separate calendar for your personal injury claim. Put every medical appointment and therapy date related to your injuries on the calendar.

Make entries on dates you agreed to contact an adjuster and dates the adjuster agreed to contact you. Your calendar will help you hold the adjuster accountable for their commitments.

Be sure you know the statute of limitations for your state. You must settle your claim or file a personal injury lawsuit before the statutory deadline, or you’ll lose your right to compensation. Injury claims made to government agencies have an even shorter time limit and special forms to submit.

If you’re working with a slip and fall attorney, enter the date and time for any meetings or phone calls with your lawyer.

Step 7: Calculate Your Slip and Fall Claim Value

You can’t just sit back and let the adjuster tell you what a fair settlement is. You must know the amount of money that will fairly compensate you for your damages.

If you are handling your own injury claim, wait until you’ve fully recovered and gathered all your bills. Then, calculate your slip and fall settlement by adding together your economic and non-economic damages.

Economic Damages

Economic damages are measurable costs incurred by the injury victim.

Economic damages in a slip and fall case include:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Out-of-pocket expenses
  • Replacement cost for broken glasses or other property

Economic damages are supported by bills, receipts, and wage statements. Use the total cost billed by medical providers, before any insurance offsets.

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages are typically known as pain and suffering.

There are no receipts or assigned values when it comes to non-economic losses. However, you can estimate non-economic damages by adding up all your medical bills and other economic losses, and adding one or two times that amount. This multiple accounts for your pain and suffering.

If your injuries are mild to moderate, most insurance companies are willing to negotiate a settlement for pain and suffering in this range.

Step 8: Send a Demand Letter to the Insurer

If you suffered minor injuries from a fall, you could probably negotiate a fair insurance settlement on your own.

When you’ve fully recovered, if you’ve decided to handle your own injury claim, you’ll send a demand letter to the property owner’s liability insurance company. Make your demand after you’ve finished your medical treatment and know the full extent and cost of your injuries.

The letter is more detailed than a notification letter and represents your formal demand for injury compensation.

A good demand letter includes:

  • A statement of facts describing the accident
  • An explanation of why the property owner is responsible for your injuries
  • A description of your injuries
  • An accounting of the damages you’ve suffered

Here’s how to Prepare a Slip and Fall Demand Packet.

Step 9: Negotiate Your Claim with the Adjuster

Once you submit your demand letter, you’ll begin active settlement negotiations with the claims adjuster.

Before speaking with the adjuster and talking numbers, it’s a good idea to plan your negotiation strategy. Advance preparation can lead to a higher payout from the insurance company.

Adjusters are trained to find reasons to reduce or deny injury claims. For example, the adjuster might try to shift some of the blame on you, or argue that your injuries are from a pre-existing condition. If you’re prepared for these types of negotiating tactics, they won’t catch you off guard.

Negotiating slip and fall hard costs should be fairly straightforward, so long as your medical treatments were reasonable and necessary, and you can justify the amount of time you missed work.

Non-economic damages are more subjective, but you can successfully negotiate compensation for pain and suffering if you understand how to present it to the adjuster.

Step 10: Finalize Your Settlement Agreement

If you reach a fair settlement with the insurance company, confirm the terms of your agreement in writing as soon as possible. Send a letter or email to the adjuster that summarizes what you both agreed upon. Your confirmation should mention the date of the agreement.

Include in your agreement confirmation:

  • The settlement amount
  • The injuries or damages that the settlement amount covers
  • The date when the company will issue your settlement paperwork and payment

Settlement Check Delays

It’s understandable to want to get your compensation and put your slip and fall ordeal behind you. If you encounter a delay in receiving your settlement check, there’s usually a reasonable explanation.

Your final compensation check might be delayed if there are medical liens against your settlement. Most states require liens to be paid before the remaining funds are issued to the claimant.

If you are represented by an attorney, call their office. Your attorney will let you know the status.

If you settled your claim without a law firm in your corner, most insurers won’t issue a check until you’ve returned a signed copy of the release and settlement agreement. If you’ve returned the signed agreement, allow at least a week or two, then call the adjuster. If they say it was sent, ask for tracking information.

Follow up with the adjuster at regular intervals. If a month or more goes by, consider contacting a personal injury lawyer or filing a complaint with your state’s insurance department.

Bonus: Options If Claim Negotiations Fail

Professional negotiators know there is always some give-and-take before both sides can agree to a settlement. Most claims settle after a few rounds of counteroffers with the adjuster. Still, it’s good to know your options if negotiations fail or your claim is denied.

Your options may include litigation in small claims court or a premises liability lawsuit in district court, depending on the amount of your damages.

High-dollar or complicated claims should always be handled by an experienced injury attorney. Insurance companies are notorious for low-balling offers to claimants who are not represented by counsel.

You don’t have to wait until negotiations come to a standstill. If an adjuster is especially difficult, or if you’re having a hard time showing that a property owner was at fault, you may want to speak with an attorney.

You have the right to consult a slip and fall attorney at any time before settling your claim. Most personal injury attorneys offer a free consultation and work on a contingency fee basis. This fee arrangement means that you don’t have to pay your attorney unless they settle your claim or win your case in court.

Even if you end up handling your own claim, a legal consultation will prove worthwhile.

Dustin Reichard, Esq. is an experienced attorney with 20 years of work in the legal field. He’s admitted to the Illinois State Bar and the Washington State Bar. Dustin has worked in the areas of medical malpractice, wrongful death, product liability, slip and falls, and general liability. Dustin began his legal career as a JAG... Read More >>