So you had a fall in a restaurant that was not your fault, and you have been injured. Who is to blame ?
Going out to eat is one of the best ways to finish off your day. Restaurants offer glamourous settings, delicious food, and a quiet atmosphere that can really help you relax. Unfortunately, they're also one of the most common places for a slip and fall accident to occur.
It makes sense. After all, restaurants are crowded, high-traffic spaces. They’re also at high risk of wet and slippery floors thanks to frequent cleaning, spilled beverages, and dropped food. It’s a recipe for falls.
But if you fall in a restaurant and are injured, you’re potentially liable for the same kinds of compensation as if you fell in another public or private space.
Falls are a serious problem and can lead to major medical bills and a serious disruption to your normal life. You must take the appropriate steps to protect yourself and start building accident documentation any time you fall.
In fact, there are slip and fall lawyers that deal with these kinds of cases as part of their specialty. Like accident lawyers and personal injury lawyers (many of whom have cross specialization and can help with a wide range of accidents and injuries), the role of any lawyer who takes on your slip and fall case is to help you receive appropriate compensation for the disruption caused by a fall.
What You Need To Do After a Fall in a Restaurant
If you're with someone else when the fall happens, you can ask them to complete some of these tasks for you. It's important to get as much documentation as possible, so make sure they know that they need to record any information they receive. Pen and paper are great, but even a note on your phone is better than no documentation.
Get medical attention after any Slip and Fall Accident
Of course, the first thing you need to do after a fall is to seek medical attention. If your fall was severe, or your injury is a medical emergency, you, a companion, or even the restaurant manager, should of course call for an ambulance. Even if your injury is less severe and you’re able to walk out of the restaurant on your own, you should still seek medical care as soon as possible.
Seeking medical care immediately does a few things for you. In an immediate sense, seeking medical care reduces the chance that your injury will become more severe before it can be treated.
Even if you aren’t sure whether you really need medical attention, you should still go to a doctor. Chances are, right after a fall, you won’t feel the full pain of your injury because adrenaline and other stress hormones can reduce your perception of pain.
Seeking medical attention quickly is also an important part of building documentation for a possible injury case. Your medical records are important evidence for the severity of your injury. Some medical records can even point to how much impact an injury has on your day to day life.
The timeline is also important. By seeking medical attention immediately, you counter the possible argument that your injury wasn’t severe enough to warrant compensation.
You’ll also likely need to provide copies of your medical records surrounding any injuries from your fall to your personal injury lawyer.
Let the Staff/Manager Know and File an Incident Report
In most restaurants, it would be hard for the staff to miss it if your slip and fall. Chances are you'll have servers and other staff coming to check and make sure you’re okay. If you do have staff coming to help, ask one of them to get the manager. This is important not because you want to get the restaurant in trouble, or because you want to complain, but because the manager is one of the best witnesses to what happened. Many restaurants will also have their own paperwork and response procedure for accidents on their property. Letting the manager know what happened will increase the amount of documentation available for your case.
It’s also likely that your personal injury lawyer will end up speaking with the manager and the restaurant owner, and their lawyer, so it helps if everyone knows what happened.
Even if the restaurant staff doesn't see you fall like if you fell in the bathroom or an entryway, you should immediately alert the manager.
Get Contact Information of Staff and Witnesses
There are a few people whose contact information you'll likely need. Make sure you have the contact information of the shift lead, manager, or whoever is in charge of the restaurant at the time you slipped.
Ask if you can get the contact information for the restaurant owner, even if they aren’t there. While you might not use this information directly, it might help your lawyer get in touch with the appropriate people later.
You should also gather contact information from any witnesses to your fall. That might be servers, bussers, bartenders, as well as other patrons. Anyone who had a clear line of sight to your fall, and anyone who came to help.
Witness information is important because it helps establish what you’re saying happened and can also make it clear that you were hurt right away.
Usually, their name and phone number are enough. But you should also ask the witnesses if a phone call is a good way to reach them and get alternate contact information if it's not. If they choose to provide an email or other contact information, you should include that as well.
This step is important. Don’t be afraid to ask people who were nearby if they saw your fall, and collect their information if they did. You don't need to ask them to recount what they saw or get a written statement. Just getting their contact information so you or your personal injury lawyer can reach out later is enough.
Don’t skip this step. If you need to seek medical attention before you can talk to witnesses as a friend or family member to get witness information. If you’re at the restaurant alone, you can ask the manager or whoever is in charge to do this for you and come back for the information later.
Document The Accident Scene Where the Fall Happened
You should always try to have someone note where you fell. Ideally, you should take pictures of the location, including uneven flooring, spilled grease, and anything else that might have contributed to your fall.
You should also take pictures of the surrounding area. That documentation can help demonstrate if you were distracted by a decoration or something else obscuring your view.
For instance, a long tablecloth might hide that there’s a spilled glass of water by a main walkway. Those details can become important for your slip and fall lawyer if you decide to pursue a slip trip and fall case.
Remember that there are plenty of spaces that can qualify as a slip and fall in a restaurant. For instance, if the restaurant maintains a private parking lot and your trip on a crack or pothole in the parking lot, that may still count.
When Might the Restaurant Be Liable?
If you've been injured in a restaurant fall, you probably wonder what could make the restaurant liable, and what kinds of falls would be considered your fault. Like all slip trip and fall cases, as well as other restaurant-related injury cases, the main qualification if negligence.
Negligence requires that the restaurant could reasonably have been aware of the hazardous conditions that caused your fall and that they failed to take reasonable precautions.
For instance, if you slipped on a patch of wet flooring, but there was a wet floor sign up to warn you, the restaurant might not be liable because they did attempt to mitigate the danger by warning you. But if you trip on cracked pavement in their parking lot, particularly if other customers have had similar problems, they might be considered liable.
Of course, the exact details of your accident always matter. Only an injury lawyer will be able to determine whether you have a reasonable case, and what level of compensation you can reasonably expect to receive.
Should I Contact a Slip and Fall Lawyer ?
It’s important to contact a lawyer as soon as possible after your fall. Seek medical attention first, but this should be one of the next steps on your radar.
That’s because there is a two-year limitation on when you can pursue a slip and fall accident in Pennsylvania. Even in fairly straight forward cases, investigations can take quite a while.
A personal injury or slip and fall lawyer is also going to be best equipped to tell if you have a good case and can help guide you through the next steps. They'll work to make sure you get the compensation you deserve.
What Compensation can I receive ?
• Medical bills • Lost wages • Pain and Suffering • Other out-of-pocket expenses
Of course, at Philly Injury Law, we're happy to help. We can answer any questions you have about your case and can evaluate the details to help you move forward as quickly as possible. You're entitled to the tools to move forward with your life, and appropriate compensation for injuries as a result of negligence is one of those tools.