What should I do if I’m hurt in a fall?

1. Don’t rush away
We can’t begin to count the number of cases in which the person who has just tripped or slipped and fallen is so embarrassed that they get up, look around to make sure no one has seen them, and then hurry away — even limping on a badly fractured ankle.  By the time they return to report their injury, the floor has been cleaned or repaired and there are no witnesses to be found.  So stop, take a breath, fight the pain and stay where you are.

2. Look around
If you don’t rush away from the place where you’ve fallen, you give yourself the chance to look around and see what caused your fall.  “Something on the floor” is usually not helpful.  You want to know what it is, where it seems to have come from, what color it is, and what the area around you looks like.

3. Can you take a picture?
Most of us carry cell phones with a camera.  There is nothing more powerful than a picture to show just where you are and what caused you to trip or slip and fall.  And if you can’t take a picture, maybe someone else can.  Don’t count on those store cameras — their “film” is often erased quickly.

4. Try to identify witnesses
We are all embarrassed when we fall, and there’s often immediate pain to cope with.  But if you can get the name of even one witness who saw you fall, or a Good Samaritan who comes to help you, you can rely on their observations later on.  Those who come to help you are usually willing to leave their name, address and phone number — if you ask.

5. Report the event as quickly as you can
When you hurry away from a store after a fall and only report it later, the store’s insurance carrier is instantly suspicious that you’re making things up.  Let the store’s employees know what happened so an investigation can be done.  It’s hard enough to prove the store knew or should have known about the dangerous condition.  There’s no reason to have the insurance company doubt whether there even was a dangerous condition to begin with.

6. Get medical attention
If you don’t rush away from the place where you fall, or you at least report the event promptly, you help yourself in the most important way possible — you give yourself the best chance of getting quick medical care.  Driving yourself to an emergency room with a badly sprained or broken right ankle, torn right knee ligaments, or a dislocated shoulder is difficult and dangerous.  If you have any doubts about the extent of your injury or your ability to get to a doctor quickly, let the store make the arrangements.  Ambulance personnel start caring for you right away.

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