It seems like hardly anyone expected the freezing rain that struck Philadelphia and areas across New Jersey on January 10, 2014. Sheets of ice covered car windshields, turned the roads into an accident-ridden mess of slush and stop-and-go traffic, and made sidewalks and outdoor steps so slippery that many encountered serious danger with just one foot out the door.
Commuters were stranded during rush hour, but at least they were warm and safe in their cars. Pedestrians enjoyed no such safety. The slick walking conditions took many people by surprise. I personally know of at least three people who took a bad fall due to the weather conditions today, and it’s still early. In a slip-and-fall on snow or ice, unlike a car accident, there is no protective padding or cushion to lessen the impact. It’s the fragile human body against the hard and unmoving sidewalk or asphalt, and unfortunately, victims often come away with critical injuries. If you slipped and fell out in the slush today, don’t make the mistake of thinking the pain you are experiencing will go away on its own or that it can’t possibly indicate a serious injury – it can.
Pedestrians walking in the freezing rain today probably saw ice buildup like this on signs, but the ice covering walkways, stairs, and parking lots is much harder to spot. Photo Credit: Flickr (Creative Commons license).
The most important thing to do after a slip-and-fall is to get medical attention promptly. If you fear that you are severely injured – if, for example, you hit your head, suffered serious bleeding from a cut, or experienced unbearable pain or any paralysis or difficulty moving – call 911 for help and go to the emergency room right away.
If your injuries amount to pain or soreness in your back, arms, legs, or other body parts, you might be tempted to brush off the fall as a minor incident and use methods like cold compresses and over-the-counter painkillers to try to manage the pain. No matter how much you want to just go about your life, it’s important that you see your doctor as soon as possible. Over the days and even weeks that follow the injury, your pain could get worse. If you don’t get appropriate medical treatment, so could the extent of the physical damage you have sustained.
While you wait for emergency responders or before you leave the scene yourself, try to document the conditions that caused you to fall. Take pictures of the area where you fell. Ice melts, so a picture of the treacherous conditions lends credibility to your assertion that the walkway was hazardous. If there are any witnesses, ask them to write down for you their contact information and their account of what happened. Even if you are not so seriously hurt that you need an ambulance, call 911 and notify police of the accident. This documentation will help you later on.
Even if you can’t see the ice buildup that caused you to slip, a photograph you take at the time of the fall can at least show the glare of a wet or slippery walking surface. Photo Credit: Flickr (Creative Commons license).
Though the slushy conditions took many of us by surprise, the dangerous weather wasn’t completely unpredictable. Business owners, homeowners, and municipalities know that snow and ice storms are possibilities in January. They have a responsibility to treat walkways, parking lots, and roads to reduce the hazard of slippery conditions like black ice. Given the number of falls, car accidents, and close calls (of both types) that have already been reported, there’s a good chance that many property owners failed to adequately treat their premises today.
If you suffered because someone else failed to uphold their responsibilities as a property owner, you can – and should – pursue a personal injury claim. After all, medical care is expensive. So is the cost of missing work. To make sure that medical expenses and lost wages don’t take a heavy financial toll on your family, you need to protect yourself.
The work you did to document the slip-and-fall is important for making your personal injury claim a success. Just as important is choosing the right lawyer to handle your claim. At Console & Associates P.C., we’ve built our 25-year career on helping victims like you get the compensation they deserve. Call 1-856-778-5500 or contact us online for help. The consultation is always free, so you have nothing to lose.