Slip and fall accidents can happen to anyone, anywhere. Not all such incidents leave injuries, but some can result in multiple hospital visits and days off from work or school. A bad fall can cause head trauma, bruises, and fractures, especially in children and older adults.
If your fall happened on someone else’s property because of the owner’s negligence, you may be able to recover monetary compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages. But when it comes to litigation, you need to be aware of the legal challenges that slip and fall cases present.
What Are the Challenges of Slip and Fall Cases?
Someone falling on a business’ property does not automatically make the owner of the premises liable for any sustained injury. In Florida, slip and fall cases are a type of premise liability claim. Premises liability refers to a legal concept where the property owner or a tenant is responsible for maintaining the premises in a hazard-free condition. If a business visitor, social guest, or even a trespasser is injured due to negligence, the landowner may be held liable for the damages.
Florida Statutes § 768.0755 states the injured person must prove the property owner had actual or constructive knowledge of a dangerous condition and did not take action to rectify it.
A dangerous condition may constitute the following:
- Water or a slippery substance on the floor
- Ice or snow buildup on a walkway
- A cracked or broken sidewalk
- Uneven height on a set of stairs
- Uneven flooring
- Lack of a sturdy handrail
- No slip-resistant paint on a walkway
Here are some of the questions you must address to win a slip and fall case:
- Did the owner have pre-existing knowledge about the dangerous condition?
- How long has the dangerous condition been present on the premises?
- How severe are the injuries you sustained from the incident?
- Did the incident cause your injuries?
- Are there witnesses that can testify about the incident?
- Can the premises’ owner prove that you fell due to carelessness?
One of the toughest aspects of slip and fall cases is proving negligence – that the property had prior notice about the dangerous condition. Even if the defendant accepts that the slip and fall occurred due to a hazard, they may argue they were not aware of the said hazard or that they did not know about it for a reasonable time to remedy it.
Following a fall, the business owner will typically produce an incident report that includes information about what caused the fall and how long the owner was aware of the unsafe condition. There may also be surveillance footage that shows the condition of the area before the fall and how long it was left in its condition. Both can be instrumental in proving the property owner’s liability.
Furthermore, a personal injury lawyer can conduct an extensive investigation to determine how long the dangerous condition was present. They can also interview witnesses, consult medical experts, and other specialists to build a compelling case.
If you wonder how many slip and fall cases go to trial, the answer is “only a few.” The reason why most premises liability cases settle out of court is that it is hard to prove that the accident occurred purely because of the property’s owner negligence. Moreover, going to trial is a costly effort for all parties involved. Most such cases reach satisfactory settlements when insurer adjusters and lawyers negotiate settlements – also considering the comparative negligence doctrine governing these negotiations.
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How Much Is a Slip and Fall Accident Worth?
The compensation will depend on many variables surrounding your case. These include:
- The severity of your injuries
- Your past and future medical expenses stemming from the injury
- Lost wages
- Diminished earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
Florida is one of the few states that compensates you for monetary and non-monetary damages. But note that Florida follows the comparative negligence model. This is another factor that could influence your settlement amount. The defendant may argue that you are partially responsible for your injuries. If so, your compensation will be reduced by the percentage of your fault in the incident.
Some of the arguments a defendant may make to establish your fault includes:
- You were trespassing.
- You were on the property after business hours.
- You were in an area where visitors were not allowed.
- You had pre-existing conditions that contributed to your fall.
- The location of the incident had an apparent warning sign or a barrier.
- Your footwear was unsuitable for the environment where you were.
- You were distracted, for example, looking at a cellphone instead of focusing on where you were going.
Still, the one benefit of the comparative negligence doctrine is that you will still receive some compensation even if most of the fault lies on you.
How Long do I Have to File a Slip and Fall Case in Florida?
Florida Statutes § 95.11(3)(a) gives you four years from the date of the incident to file a personal injury claim or a lawsuit. Although four years may seem like a lot, know that the success of slip and fall cases is significantly dependent on concrete evidence. Waiting too long to sue for damages could mean losing some evidence, such as not being able to contact witnesses.
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Call Us for a Free Consultation to Discuss Your Slip and Fall Case
An unintentional slip and fall can completely change the face of your life, leaving you with thousands of dollars’ worth of medical expenses and an inability to work. If you or a loved one has sustained serious injuries in a slip and fall accident, the Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine can help you explore your legal options.
Do not wait and shoulder the financial repercussions of someone else’s negligence on your own. Call us today at 1-800-747-3733, so we can evaluate your case’s potential and fight for your compensation.
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