What to Do in New York After You Slip and Fall in a Store

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According to the National Safety Council, falls account for approximately one-third of all preventable injuries, with over 6.8 million people suffering an injury from a fall in 2020 alone. Sometimes these falls are beyond your control, and you may be unaware of what your rights are and what to do next. For instance, if you are injured in a slip-and-fall accident in a store, you may be entitled to damages.

Continue reading to learn about the common causes of slip-and-fall accidents and the most common injuries from these accidents. You also need to know what to do and what not to do after a slip-and-fall accident in New York. If you do find yourself injured in a fall, however, you should seek legal advice from a New York personal injury attorney. Let the experienced legal team at The Coppola Firm handle your case for you, so you can focus on recovery and returning to your life.

slip and fall sign

Common Causes of Slip-and-Fall Accidents in New York

While a slip-and-fall can happen anywhere for a variety of reasons, there are several common causes for this type of accident in New York. While it is imperative that you or a loved one always stay aware of your surroundings, sometimes you may find that other factors interfere with your right to trust in the establishment or location you are visiting. Unsafe conditions and hazards can lurk in the most unlikely of places.

Some of the common causes of these slip-and-fall accidents in New York include the following.

  • Recently mopped or waxed floors, often without caution signs displayed
  • Snowy, icy, or muddy walkways or parking lots, which are the responsibility of the store or establishment that owns them
  • Cords across walkways, placed irresponsibly
  • Spilled food or liquids on floors, particularly in restaurants and grocery stores
  • Uneven, cracked, or otherwise hazardous pavement and parking lots
  • Cluttered walkways, filled with boxes or other items, making it difficult to walk around
  • Broken or missing stair handles which give way as you reach for them
  • Limited lighting in stairwells or other areas, preventing you from seeing a step or other impediment clearly
  • Loose carpeting or rugs not secured to the floor, causing tripping hazards

As you can see, slip-and-fall accidents can occur anywhere, including grocery stores, other retail stores, offices, restaurants, theaters, stadiums, and parks. While you may take all the safety precautions you can in these areas, the owners of these buildings or stores also have a duty to care and share in the responsibility to keep you safe.

Common Slip-and-Fall Injuries

While all ages can experience a slip-and-fall, older adults are more at risk of serious injuries caused by these accidents. All too often, the one who falls is unaware of the extent of their injuries until they receive medical attention.

Some of the most common injuries from falls due to a hazardous condition such as slippery floors, include:

  • Broken bones, including hip fractures, broken ribs, leg or arm breaks
  • Traumatic brain injuries, from mild to severe, including concussions, hemorrhaging, and several other potential damages to the skull and brain
  • Back and spinal cord injuries, often including pinched nerves, herniated or slipped discs, or fractures to the individual vertebrae, all of which can be painful, debilitating, and lead to short or long-term paralysis
  • Neck injuries, from muscle, ligament or tendon damage all the way to cervical spine damage
  • Knee and ankle sprains and strains, soft tissue injuries common when forcibly twisting these body parts during a fall
  • Wrist, elbow, and shoulder injuries, typically incurred while instinctually attempting to catch yourself while you are falling
  • Cuts and bruises, due to hitting a solid object or landing on sharp objects or broken glass
  • Injuries to the face, including broken teeth, jaw, or nose, occurring when you strike the ground or another object
  • Chronic pain, due to any of the injuries above which can lead to long-term pain that can be debilitating and limit your quality of life

What Should You Do After Being Injured in a New York Slip-and-Fall Accident?

Immediately following a slip-and-fall accident, shock, confusion, or pain may be the first things you experience. There are things you need to do next to care for your personal health and protect your rights should you need to seek rightful compensation going forward. The following are the steps you should take after any slip-and-fall accident.

Seek Medical Attention

After a fall, your first thought may be to get up and shrug it off unless you know something is wrong immediately. Whether you experience pain right away or not, seek medical attention. Your injuries may not yet be obvious to you, but a medical professional will know what to look for after this type of accident. If anything is found, medical treatment and follow-up care may be necessary. In addition, by seeking medical attention as early as possible, you will help boost your personal injury claim with evidence that that injury occurred as a result of the fall and not some other cause.

Determine What Caused Your Fall

Immediately after the fall, look around you to see what could possibly have contributed to the accident. Is there a crack in the sidewalk, low lighting on the stairwell, a faulty handrail, or a wet floor with no caution sign nearby? This act alone can provide clues as to whether negligence of another is involved.

Document the Scene

In addition to looking around for the cause of the fall, document the scene as best you can. Take pictures of where you fell, what caused you to fall, and any injuries you sustained. Scan around the area, taking panoramic pictures as well to show that no warning signs or other attention-getters were in place at the time of your fall. Take close-up photos of your injuries, including any cuts or bruises, as these will look less damaging in the days following the accident.

Also, if there are security cameras in the store or other fall location, request that the business owners retain the security footage for you. Both the photos you take and any video coverage showing either your fall or conditions of the area will be beneficial to your case and for seeking a higher settlement.

Collect Witness Contact Information

Everything happens so quickly during a slip-and-fall, and often there will be witnesses surrounding you. Before they leave, make sure you ask them for their contact information, including name and telephone number. Having such impartial third parties serving as witnesses can help you prove your case, even if the property owner or store manager attempts to claim they were not responsible in any way for your fall. Instead of having your word against their word, these witnesses can weigh in on what they saw.

File an Injury Report

Regardless of how you feel immediately after the fall, request to speak with someone in authority and file an official personal injury report. If they tell you that they will file one for you, resist the temptation to trust that they will have your best interests in mind. Only you can include specific details of how your slip-and-fall occurred and what injuries you sustained.

Keep Thorough Records

Following the slip-and-fall, write down everything you can remember about the accident, including the weather conditions, whether the location was crowded, etc. Maintain these notes in a file, along with a copy of the accident report, the photos you took of the scene and your injuries, and all medical records involving those injuries. These records will be used to build your case and in addressing the insurance company as you seek a fair settlement or take legal action.

Consult a New York Personal Injury Attorney

A slip-and-fall accident on either private or public property requires a thorough review to determine if negligence is involved and to what degree. Your injuries may be severe and require ongoing treatments, or you can experience chronic pain which will affect other areas of your life, such as work and family time. A Buffalo, New York personal injury attorney will be able to conduct a case evaluation, compile all the necessary evidence, and enter negotiations with insurance company adjusters on your behalf.

What Not to Do After a Slip-and-Fall Accident

man holding his knee in pain after falling

Just like there are things you need to do following a slip-and-fall accident, there are also some things to avoid in order for you to seek the highest compensation you need for your injuries. Keep the following in mind if you ever experience a slip-and-fall accident beyond your front door.

Leave Without Reporting Your Fall to the Premises

Following a fall when out in public, many people feel embarrassed or even loathe what they think is their own clumsiness. When this happens, they can leave the premises quickly and not file an injury report with the property or store owner. This is a mistake. If you leave without creating a record of your fall, your case becomes much more difficult to prove liability, which can damage your claim or personal injury lawsuit. Instead, take these steps:

  • Find the appropriate person who is in charge of the location;
  • Report your fall; and
  • Request a copy of the incident report.


You may feel awkward after a fall. As a result, many people apologize automatically after the accident, even if they were not at fault. However, apologizing can be used as evidence of fault. Avoid accepting blame or saying you are sorry in any way until all factors surrounding the accident can be examined.

Forget to Collect Witness Contact Information

Witnesses will be highly beneficial to your case. Feeling embarrassed or helpless around them may make you forget to gather their names and contact information. Yet, do your best to collect their stories and contact information before you, or they, leave the premises.

Forget to Gather Evidence

In the aftermath of your fall, you might forget to take all necessary pictures of the scene and your injuries, but they are crucial to your case. You can use your cell phone to take these photos, or if you are unable, ask someone with you to do so.

Brush Off Your Injuries

You should seek medical attention after a slip-and-fall, even if the pain is not severe. You may experience delayed symptoms, or you may not notice a serious issue without a medical professional’s help. The resulting medical record will be crucial to your case.

Skip Medical Appointments

If you skip physical therapy or doctor’s appointments for your injury, the insurance company could use that as evidence that your injuries are not as severe as you claim. This approach can impact the amount you receive for your fall.

Talk to Insurance Without a Lawyer

Insurance companies are known for practicing deceptive tactics in order to deny or settle a claim for less than an injured victim deserves. Avoid talking to these insurance companies without a lawyer who understands the process and tactics often used. Here are a few tactics an adjuster will often use.

  • Request phone calls to discuss the claim right away.
  • Ask you for recorded statements.
  • Seek additional documentation from you, such as past medical history records, often looking for something else they can claim led to your injuries.
  • Ask you to sign documents. (Don’t sign anything without consulting a lawyer first.)

They are not doing these for your benefit. Instead, it is in their own best interest to downplay your case to dismiss or reduce the amount owed to you and save the insurance company money in the process.

Instead, consult a knowledgeable New York slip-and-fall attorney for your personal injury case. They can handle communications with the insurance company so you do not unknowingly jeopardize your case.

Accept a Settlement Without Legal Representation

Sometimes, insurance companies will offer a settlement hoping to close your case quickly with minimal payout. A personal injury lawyer can provide advice on what your specific slip and fall claim is worth and whether or not a settlement offer is fair and will actually cover the expenses related to your accident.

Who Is Liable For a Slip-and-Fall Accident in New York?

If you sustain injuries in a slip and fall on someone else’s property, the property owner or manager may be liable for your damages. However, you must first prove that the accident was a result of their negligence.

Negligence could be due to various reasons. These reasons are often unsafe conditions on the property that the owner caused or failed to correct and may include:

  • Broken handrails or uneven flooring
  • A failure to clear snow and ice from walkways and parking lots
  • Collection of debris in walkways without clearing away in a timely manner

When it comes to who is liable for slip-and-fall accidents, New York has what is known as a pure comparative negligence rule. Simply put, this means that if you are found to be responsible for your accident in any way, the percentage of fault that belongs to you will be deducted from your damages. For example, if you are awarded $100,000 in damages, but you are 10 percent at fault, you will receive only $90,000.

It is important to know that the property owner may be able to counter your suit by proving that you were negligent and partially responsible for your accident. For instance, if you were distracted by your phone, either talking, texting, or in some other way using your cell phone, you may be found partially at fault.

Other ways you can be found partially responsible for your fall include:

  • Being somewhere you should not be or are not expected to be without permission;
  • Wearing inappropriate footwear that contributed to your fall; or
  • Falling as a result of a condition that a “reasonable” person would have avoided.

As you can see, the question of premises liability and shared fault can quickly become confusing and complicated. Seek the assistance of an experienced slip-and-fall lawyer to help you understand the rules in New York and how best to proceed with your case.

How Long Do You Have to Sue for a Slip-and-Fall in New York?

All personal injury cases fall under legal timelines, and it is important to know how long you have to file a lawsuit for a slip-and-fall in New York. These timelines are referred to as the statute of limitations and must be strictly adhered to so that you do not risk losing your rights to file that slip-and-fall lawsuit under New York law.

Specifically, under the statute of limitations, you have three years from the date of a slip-and-fall accident to file a personal injury lawsuit against the property owner. If you want to sue for property damage caused by the slip-and-fall accident, you also have three years from the date of the incident to file.

How to Prevent Slip-and-Fall Accidents

While some falls often cannot be avoided, there are preventive steps you can take to help avoid falls from occurring for you or others. Below are common ways to help.

  • If you see a slip hazard or other dangerous condition, notify the appropriate authority, such as the property owner or manager, so they can address it.
  • Clear walkways of any tripping hazards.
  • Secure wires or cables that cross walkways.
  • Make sure rugs and carpets are flat and secured.
  • Use handrails on stairs but be sure to test them first to make sure they are steady.
  • Watch your step at all times.
  • If using a ladder, make sure it is fully open, locked, stable, and all the ladder’s feet are on a flat surface.
  • Be observant and take your time when entering and walking in a parking lot, sidewalk, offices, retail or grocery store, and other areas.

Benefits of Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer for Your Slip-and-Fall Case

lawyer discussing a case with a client

While you can represent yourself in a slip-and-fall case, having an experienced Buffalo, New York personal injury law attorney on your side can reduce your stress and improve the outcome of your case.

Your lawyer can advise you on the viability of your case, including how likely it is that you will be able to prove fault and collect damages.

They can also enter negotiations with insurance companies and the property owner’s lawyers, help you assemble all required documentation, negotiate on your behalf, and represent you if the case has to go to court.

A knowledgeable New York slip and fall accident lawyer will be able to calculate the compensation needed to cover your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and any other economic and non-economic damages.

By seeking the help of a personal injury lawyer for your slip-and-fall case, you will be free from the stress of handling the fall case yourself, so you can focus more on your own health and recovery.

Hire Lawyers with Experience and Tenacity

Suffering a slip-and-fall injury can be debilitating and take you away from your preferred lifestyle in unexpected ways, either over a short time or long term. When this happens, you need a law firm with experience and the tenacity to get results on your behalf.

The Coppola Firm offers free consultations in the Buffalo, New York area for personal injury cases, so call us today at 716-839-9700 or use the convenient contact form found on our website and schedule an appointment.

Lisa Coppola

Written by Lisa Coppola

Founder of The Coppola Firm

Lisa A. Coppola, Esq. understands the challenges her clients face, whether they’re starting a new business, taking their existing operations in a new direction, or facing a claim or threat.

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