Slip and fall accidents can happen almost anywhere. An unsafe or unaddressed hazard could easily result in a trip, slip, and fall, which often results in severe injuries, or even death especially among older adults. Sometimes, the floor is wet and slippery, other times, there’s an obstruction on the walkway that trips your foot. The resulting injuries and damages could lead to significant financial stress on the victim, as medical bills pile up and are forced to spend time away from work.
Regardless of the cause of a slip and fall accident, the property owner or the business owner may be held liable for the injuries the victim sustains. At Englander Peebles, our Boca Raton slip and fall lawyers understand how complex and daunting it can be to navigate Florida’s legal system, especially without prior experience. We can take on the legal challenge to represent you and pursue the justice you need and deserve. To learn more about how our personal injury attorneys can help, get in touch with us today at (561) 510 7780 and schedule your free case review.
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What are the Most Common Causes of Slip and Fall Accidents?
Property managers, owners, and lessees are legally responsible for their premises. In Florida, they are all required to not only maintain safe conditions around the premises, but also provide adequate warning to patrons, residents, or customers of potentially harmful or unsafe situations.
Some of the most common slip and fall accidents include the following:
- Improper maintenance and/or structural defects that cause cracked sidewalks, uneven steps, torn carpeting, broken floor tiles, or potholes in streets/parking lots.
- Debris, liquid, or ice on the floor causing wet or slick walkways, staircases, or floors
- Missing or broken handrails, faulty escalators, or broken staircases
- Unlit hallways or walkways
- Uncleaned spills inside premises such as hospitals, stores, nursing homes, etc.
- Malfunctioning or the complete failure to install safety equipment such as anti-slip devices, storm drains, or gutters, which results in hazardous environments during heavy snowfall or rainfall
- Failure to clean up hazardous debris such as tree branches,
- Failure to shovel away or salt snow or ice that causes hazardous conditions in bad weather
- Inadequate signage warning of danger and/or failure to restrict areas with hazardous conditions such as any of the above
How Can a Boca Raton Slip and Fall Attorney Help Me With My Case?
If you or a loved one suffers a serious injury because of the negligence of a property owner in Boca Raton, FL, you should seek the services of a lawyer to help you understand your legal options. You may be eligible for compensation for your medical costs, pain and suffering, lost earnings/income, and any changes in your quality of life; if you can prove fault on the side of the property or business owner.
The following are some of the ways in which a lawyer can help you with your case.
A lawyer will help even out the playing field, considering that the property owner will most likely not accept responsibility for the accident, and will have legal experts to protect their best interests.
The defendants in slip and fall cases tend to downplay the injuries and damages the victims suffered, claiming that they aren’t as serious as they claim. A good lawyer will help to protect your rights and help you avoid mistakes that could hurt your chances of receiving compensation.
Your lawyer will also help collect strong, compelling evidence for the accident, as well as proof of the business owner’s or property manager’s negligence. They will also know how to compile and present your evidence in such a way that it makes your case as convincing as possible. Your lawyer will also be well versed in premises liability laws and how they relate to your case.
Perhaps even more importantly, your lawyer will handle the insurance companies on your behalf. Insurance companies can be a real pain to handle, considering that they are constantly looking for ways to pay you as little compensation as possible. Your lawyer will communicate and negotiate with them on your behalf.
What Steps Should You Take After a Slip and Fall Injury?
When you slip and fall in a public place, you can essentially be your best advocate. Here are the steps to take if you’re injured in a slip and fall accident.
Take pictures and videos of the location where you fell. Be sure to capture any icy patches, stairs, or other conditions that might have contributed to your accident. It’s also wise to note down what you were doing before the accident, how you fell, and details such as the exact time and date.
Report the Incident
No matter where the accident happens, be sure to report it to the property manager, business owner, or landlord. Get the details in writing – ask the landlord, owner, or manager to give you a copy of their written report.
Get Witness Contact Information
It’s always important to collect the names, phone numbers, addresses, and other relevant details of potential witnesses. Their statements could help you prove your claim better.
Get Medical Attention
Your health is paramount, no matter how serious the accident is. If you’ve been hurt, seek medical attention to ensure that your injuries are attended to and documented. Your medical records will be essential pieces of evidence when pursuing compensation for your damages.
Contact a Lawyer
While most landlords, business owners, or managers will have the problem addressed immediately after the accident, their initial offer may not fully cover your damages. If you have been injured in a slip and fall contact an attorney before accepting any settlement offers.
How Can You Prove a Slip and Fall Accident in Florida?
To hold another party responsible for the injuries you sustained in a slip and fall accident, you typically have to prove that:
- The property owner (or defendant) had known about the hazardous condition or should have reasonably known that it was present
- You, as the victim, were not aware of the dangerous condition – that you couldn’t see the hazard in time to avoid it, and there were no warning signs posted.
The defendant should have known about the dangerous condition and repaired or removed the hazard but failed to do so. The concern here is that a reasonable person would have seen the condition as dangerous and that the defendant had enough opportunity to rectify the situation before the incident happened.
The word “reasonable” is often brought up in settlement negotiations and other stages of slip and fall accident cases. This is because, for the defendant to be held “negligent” and liable for the damages in the case, they must have failed to act in a manner a reasonably prudent person would have under similar circumstances as those leading up to the incident. To try and evaluate whether the defendant acted reasonably, the following are some things the plaintiffs should consider:
- Did the obstacle or hazard exist for a time long enough to allow a prudent property owner or employee to take action and eliminate the hazard?
- Is there any justification for the existence of the potential hazard? If so, was this justification viable at the time of the accident?
- Did the defendant have a policy in place to routinely check for potential hazards on the property? If so, were there any records to show whether the procedure was followed before the accident?
- Was poor visibility a factor in causing the accident?
- Could the hazard have been made less dangerous by preventative measures like restricting access to the area, providing adequate warning signage, or relocating the hazard?
How is Liability Determined in Florida Slip and Fall Cases?
According to premises liability law, property owners and landlords are required to keep their property safe and clear or known hazards. If they allow their premises or an area on their property to be unsafe, unsuspecting persons could get seriously injured, and they may be held liable for the damages the victims suffer as a result.
However, Florida is a comparative negligence state, meaning that if the plaintiff is partly at fault for the accident, the amount they can recover in damages will be reduced in proportion. This is probably why one of the most common defenses for slip and fall cases is comparative negligence. For instance, if the victim clearly saw an obstacle, yet they tripped on it, it’s not entirely the property owner’s fault the accident happened.
In Florida, the law requires that every person is responsible to make an effort to keep themselves safe. The choice of the shoes you wear to things like talking on the phone while walking can make the court hold you partly responsible for the accident. This is the essence of contributory negligence.
When filing a claim for a slip and fall accident, you may be asked questions like:
- Was there a good reason for you to be on the property owner’s premises during the accident?
- Had the property owner placed or given out any warnings or signs of the hazard that caused your slip and fall accident?
- Would a prudent person taking reasonable caution in the same situation have identified and evaded the hazard, if they weren’t distracted in any way?
- Was the plaintiff engaged in any kind of activities that may have contributed to their slip and fall accident?
How Much is My Slip and Fall Case Worth?
Every case is unique, which makes it difficult to say how much one can expect for their slip and fall case. Nonetheless, if you suffered significant injuries from the accident, you may be eligible for settlement amounts up to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Generally speaking, your case will be worth the total sum of the damages you suffered.
Damages in a slip and fall accident may include:
Medical costs include everything from the first ER visit, to all other doctor visits, hospital bills, surgeries, prescriptions, and ongoing costs such as physical therapy and rehabilitation. They also include the estimated future medical costs from the injuries you suffered.
If you’re forced to spend time away from work because of the injuries suffered in the accident, you’re entitled to financial compensation for any lost income.
Pain and Suffering
These damages are much harder to quantify, and may require insight from an experienced premises liability lawyer. They include the pain, emotional distress, and mental anguish you and your loved ones suffered as a result of the accident.
Are there any Time Limits for Filing a Slip and Fall Lawsuit?
The statute of limitations in Florida gives a deadline of four years to file a slip and fall accident lawsuit against the owner of the property where the accident occurred. If this deadline is missed, your case will be dismissed. This is unless a rare exception applies to your case, calling for an extension. Keep in mind that the same deadline applies to property damage caused by a slip and fall accident.
In general, the sooner you file a claim, the more time you have to build a case and negotiate with the defendant’s legal team. It could also give you leverage to negotiate the most favorable settlement possible, and maybe even avoid going to court. Perhaps more importantly, waiting for too long to file a claim could result in crucial evidence disappearing, and witnesses forgetting their accounts of the incident.
Recover Compensation with the Help of an Englander Peebles Boca Raton Slip and Fall Accident Lawyer
Business owners, property managers, and landlords have a legal obligation to ensure their premises are safe and free from hazardous conditions for their guests and customers. As such, the injuries you suffer in a slip and fall accident aren’t something to sweep under the rug. You should hold the defendant liable for neglecting basic safety procedures and providing unsafe conditions.
Our slip and fall accident attorneys will work tirelessly on your behalf, right from the very first phone call you make to us until you get the justice and compensation you need and deserve. We understand the likely financial stress you may be facing after the accident. That’s why we provide all our clients with a free initial consultation and work on a contingency fee basis. This way, you don’t have to pay us anything until we win your case.
Contact our Boca Raton injury firm today to learn more about how we can help you recover your damages.