Q: I slipped off a broken uneven step outside the local post office and was immediately paralyzed with pain from a dislocated shoulder. After I slipped, an employee went out and salted the step, looked at me, and said I should get to the hospital. I was taken to the emergency where they took X-rays, and my arm was on a sling for 3 weeks. I have my wife and another person as witnesses to this incident. What are the steps I should take so that I could claim damages for the personal injury?

If there is a potential claim for personal injury, it is very important to preserve the integrity of the claim in every way possible. The following are some of the important things to remember and do if one thinks he or she might have a case:

  • Don’t discuss incident with other party or that party’s representative
  • Seek immediate medical attention
  • Write down the sequence of events as soon as possible
  • Preserve potential proofs or evidence: such as the claimant’s shoes in a trip-and-fall case; documentation of injuries sustained; or photograph of the site where the accident happened, etc.

It is also important to keep documents bearing on damages sustained, where applicable, like

  • Medical and hospital reports.
  • Medical bills.
  • Documentation of lost earnings to date (e.g., statement from employer).
  • Documentation of all other “out of pocket” expenses incurred (e.g., car rental costs, towing
  • charges, photographer’s costs, etc.).

Keep in mind that there is a two-year statute of limitation for such claims (CCP §§ 335.1). After these preliminary steps, a claimant must immediately work with a lawyer who is an expert in personal injury cases for proper guidance on the right things to do regarding the claim.


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