Have you fallen and been hurt in a public place?
Injuries from slip and fall accidents are the leading cause of brain injury in the United States today. Falls represent the number one cause of injury and death in older people each year but they can happen anywhere to anybody. Such mishaps can happen on the football field, a nursing home corridor, or at the mall. We all should remember that these injuries can be deadly even when they are treated immediately. A head injury is nothing to take lightly.
If you or someone you love has been injured in Georgia through a slip and fall, how do you go about proving it? If you could prove it, how much might be recovered in court? This article will help you to understand how to prove the devastating results of a head injury due to a slip and fall. It will also help you understand how lawyers for the defense and your own personal injury lawyer will determine what your case is worth.
Here is how it works:
Imagine that you stop at the local grocery mart on your way home from work to pick up the makings for a salad for your supper. While strolling through the produce department you slip on an innocuous grape that’s found its way onto the slick, polished floor. You fall flat on your back and hit your head hard on the concrete. You may or may not lose consciousness, but you know immediately that your “bell” has been rung.
Stunned and disoriented, you look around for help. There are no store employees nearby, but a fellow shopper comes around the corner in time to help you into a sitting position and go in search of help.
Your head throbs so badly that you wonder that others cannot see it. There is no blood, though, and you don’t think anything is broken.
The manager comes to your aid and asks if he needs to call an ambulance to transport you to the emergency room. You think you’re not injured badly enough to warrant that. You think you’re just a little shook up. You turn down the medical help, get up, and go home. (Without the salad.)
Later in the evening, when the throbbing in your head gets worse instead of better you go to the closest emergency room . A CT scan shows that you’ve suffered a concussion and possible traumatic brain injury.
A traumatic brain injury happens when the brain, which floats inside your skull surrounded by Cerebral Spinal fluid, CSF, is shaken badly enough to cause it to bang up against the inside of your skull. The brain is like the yolk of an egg inside the shell. A severe jolt from a fall can cause the brain to bang up against the brainpan, bruising it.
A traumatic brain injury may be a minor concussion that will heal with rest. It could also be a severe injury that causes ongoing seizures, mood changes, cognitive impairment and other life-changing, incapacitating symptoms. We also know that there is a verified link between such injuries and Alzheimer’s disease and/or Parkinson’s that might develop later. An injury to the brain may, unfortunately, have severe effects on one’s life that must be investigated and treated.
In a case such as this, how can you prove that you were injured by the grocery store’s failure to keep its premise safe for shoppers like you? Nobody saw you fall. Only the second shopper saw you on the floor.
If you’d had the presence of mind to accept the offer of an ambulance, those expert witnesses and their observations would have been very useful in establishing the facts of your case. This failure to accept help when and if it’s offered happens very frequently. We humans are socialized from infancy not to be a “bother” or the source of expense to anybody else. We imagine that we’re unworthy of ‘all that fuss.’ Sadly, it is that sort of thinking that causes the deaths of many TBI victims.
If your injury is a closed one, meaning that there is no obvious break in the skull or exposure of its interior, you and others around you are apt to believe that the injury isn’t serious. Too often in these cases, though, the brain is bleeding and swelling where you cannot see it. This is the reason such injuries are the primary cause of death in children under 4-years-old and the most common cause of physical disability and cognitive impairment in young people. (Think about young football players who go back into the game following a jolt to the head as an example of how this happens.)
Keep Good Medical Records
Medical records are essential. The notes and records from ambulance personnel and EMT’s are helpful. The results of your CT scan, the radiologist’s report, the attending doctor’s notes will all be critical in your case.
You will also need to produce previous medical records in order to establish that your brain was not injured prior to the day of the fall. The job of the store’s insurance company’s lawyers will be to convince the jury either that you were not hurt to begin with or that your injury was an old one, not related to your fall.
“Did you play football as a youngster, Mister Smith?”
“Isn’t it true, Miss Jones, that as a cheerleader you once fell from the top of your squad’s pyramid?”
Knowing of all possible situations in which you may have fallen previously will be important in proving that this fall is the cause of your current medical condition.
Documentation of other facts is also critical element in your case. Unfortunately, when we are thus injured we are often not thinking clearly enough to get the names and phone numbers of the people who might later be helpful in proving our case. If that store manager is doing his job correctly, he got the other shopper’s name and phone number just in case you bring a civil suit. He won’t necessarily give it up without a court order, but he probably has even the name of the junior employee who cleaned up the squashed grape. His testimony will be important as well. Your personal injury attorney will be able to get all of that information even if the store won’t share it with you. (Yet another reason to have an attorney on your side.)
Once you’ve established that the store’s negligence in keeping the aisle clear of hazards is the cause of your fall and your injury, the next phase begins.
When the insurance company’s adjuster or lawyers have had the opportunity to see your medical records and all your documentation which demonstrate that the fall caused your injury, the question of how much your case is worth is the next point of contention.
The worth or value of your case will hinge upon the degree to which you suffered and will continue to suffer with the consequences of your fall. If you’ve had cognitive impairment sufficient to cause you to be unable to do your job, your case will be worth much more than if you just had a few bruises and a headache that eventually went away.
If the TBI was such that it affected your problem solving skills and your judgment in the long-term, it will probably increase the value of your case, which means you would naturally want to seek or hold out for a larger settlement or take your case to a Jury. If you had to undergo rehabilitation therapy or other medical treatments, the cost of those interventions will be factored into the value of your case as well. If you will need future medical care as a result of your injury, those future costs will also impact the settlement or award award you are seeking.
Also important is the degree to which your interpersonal relationships were and are altered because of your brain damage. It is common for the victim’s new inability to perform ordinary tasks to result in frustration, depression, even post-traumatic stress syndrome, PTSD. Such ongoing conditions will also be considered as your personal injury attorney establishes the amount of money you will ask the court to grant you.
It is very likely that the Grocery Store’s insurance adjustor will contact you within days – even hours after your injury. If you take nothing else away from reading this article remember this; the adjustor’s job is to represent the best interests of HIS client. No matter how concerned and sympathetic he seems, he is not your new best friend. Before you sign away your rights – and he will try very hard to “help” you get what you need in terms of immediate medical help if you will just sign on the dotted line and close this matter – you must call a personal injury lawyer before you put pen to paper.
You will need someone to look after your best interests particularly just after the injury when you’re not able to think as clearly as you used to. Do not allow the adjustor to bully, cajole, or otherwise influence you until you have a personal injury advocate at your side.
At The Millar Law Firm, we handle only personal injury cases. This means that we devote all of our attention to finding ways to get our clients the justice they deserve. A lawyer who isn’t a specialist may not be able to bring personal injury proficiency to the battle. Such prowess will be absolutely necessary when you get to the courtroom.
Allow us to review the facts in your case. Call our offices today for your free case evaluation. Then we can advise you about how to proceed.