It happens every day:
A company wants to maximize its profits to the exclusion of all else. It starts cutting hours and increasing the workload for the employees in a given store, and the understaffed location begins to compromise on safety procedures to keep up with labor demands. After enough compromises, the store is simply not safe… and the customers have no idea.
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Every business or organization is responsible for maintaining a safe environment in their sales floors, offices, and parking lots. If you or yours found out that a retail establishment, entertainment venue, or restaurant isn’t safe the hard way, it’s probably in your interest to contact an accident attorney and explain your situation to them. But if you think you have a personal injury case, there are a few steps you can take right away to make it stronger and put you in a better position when it’s time to settle.
First of all, it’s possible that the manager will bring you a waiver and ask you to sign it. Don’t sign anything you haven’t read carefully, or to be on the safe side, anything at all. It may be legally binding, and may harm or eliminate your ability to seek compensation from the people at fault for your injuries; and they may take time to fully manifest. So even if you feel fine, it’s important that you not go on the record definitively stating that you’re unhurt. Let a doctor diagnose your condition in a day or two, when the adrenaline is out of your system and your muscles start to relax– or better yet, immediately.
Next is documentation. Security cameras saturate the First World and it’s very likely that your injury was recorded on film— but you cannot count on it, especially in a business that has already been negligent toward its customers or employees. If you have a device that can, photo and video evidence you collect in the moments that follow an injury can be essential to proving a company’s failure to keep people safe. It is essential that the manager be made aware of the incident and that the business has an official record of it. Making an audio or video record of the conversation with them may be useful as well in the event that they try to cover up an accident or diminish its seriousness.
When collecting photo or video evidence of the scene of the incident, it’s important to get the little details on film. If, for instance, there is a spill that you fall in, get a shot of your clothes that got wet when you fell. If someone walked through the spill before you and left footprints leading away from it, get a picture of it too. You can’t have too many pictures, but it’s easy not to have enough. If you slipped on a grape, take a picture of the squashed grape, and of whatever is on the shelves around you. If an area is cluttered where you tripped, get a shot of the area from more than one angle. If you stepped in a pothole and were hurt in a parking lot, get something that’s a constant size, like a dollar bill, smartphone, or a ring of keys and place it next to the hazard, to show a sense of scale and depth in your photographs.
Eye-witnesses to the incident should be approached and asked for a statement, and/or for their contact information so a statement can be taken later. If a person is willing to give a recorded statement or to appear in court, they’ll help your case tremendously.
By following these simple steps, you’ll be set up to make the best of your situation when you bring the claim to your Attorney. That is the last step, of course, and it should be taken as soon as possible for several reasons— not the least of which is that reaching a settlement can take a long time, and it’s best to get started sooner than later.