Store Employee Witnesses
As noted in How to Finesse a Manager's Report,
store or institutional employees are often very helpful if you can speak
with them before the manager tells them not to talk with you. If they saw
your accident, they may be interesting in helping you up or generally
making sure you're all right. That gives you an opening to ask a few
Do not talk of blame, or as if you are trying to solve a liability problem.
Be gracious and understanding, and maybe you can generate the same emotions
in them. They will volunteer the most amazing things.
Store employees sometimes volunteer information that basically establishes
liability against the store. Without their information, some people would
have no case at all.
For example, if you slip and fall near a salad bar, and the employee
helping you get to your feet and feel steady again comments that he's so
sorry - he saw that salad dressing had spilled and just hadn't had time to
get back here to clean it up yet. Or the maintenance man in a large
building sees you trip over a broken stair-step and rushes over to be sure
you're all right. As he's talking you through catching your breath, he
mentions that he's told the manager a hundred times about that step, and
now look what's happened!
If possible, mention such a thing to the manager when you speak with him.
Better yet, ask the manager to bring the employee back and speak with them.
Be sure to praise the helpfulness of any employees who came to your
As with other witnesses, you want to document what any store employees tell
you. If possible, you want the manager to put their observations in his
report. If he doesn't include that information in his report, write a
letter thanking the employees by name for their assistance and reminding
the manager of the pertinent issues that were raised in you conversation
with him and his employees.
Document everything. With information as crucial as store employee
knowledge can be, it's not enough, though, to document it and stash it in
your file. You need to be sure that the store manager and the insurance
adjuster know what you know. That's why you send the manager a letter and
mention what you learned from his employees. That's why you had the
employee repeat that information to the manager while you were there.