Tamarac Slip and Fall Lawyer
If you or a loved one slipped and fell on someone else’s property and suffered injuries, it may be necessary to file a slip and fall claim. Slip and fall accidents happen throughout Tamarac and Broward County, Florida every year. Tamarac is home to a number of businesses and shopping centers where injuries may occur, including The Gardens Mall, Midway Plaza, Sunshine Plaza, Tamarac Square West Shopping Center, Tamarac Town Square, and dozens more. At Englander Peebles, our slip and fall attorneys have represented clients in numerous Tamarac slip and fall claims.
Slip and fall claims are a specific type of personal injury claim. These claims are filed when a property owner failed to discover (and should have discovered) or failed to remove a hazardous condition on the property. These claims may also be appropriate if a property owner failed to warn visitors of a hazardous condition that was present on the property.
Slip and fall accident injuries on private property or public property
If you or a loved one slip and fell on someone else’s property, you may be able to recover damages regardless of the status of the property owner.
If the slip and fall occurred on private property, you may be able to recover the cost of your medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses you endured as a result of the accident. For visitors with express or implied permission to enter the property, homeowners have a duty to remove any unreasonably dangerous conditions from the property. If the homeowner is unable to remove the condition-for example, consider a large hole in the floor that is awaiting repair-the homeowner must warn visitors of the hazard so that they are not injured. Visitors with implied permission to enter a property include mail carriers, meter readers, lawn care specialists, and other such individuals. Generally, a homeowners’ insurance policy will cover slip and fall injuries. These policies may cover the victim’s medical bills and other expenses related to the claim.
If the slip and fall accident occurred on public property, the city or municipality may still be liable for the victim’s injuries-it may just take a little bit of research to determine out who the property owner is. Additionally, in Florida, it is important to remember that statutory notices must be timely sent to the correct entities before a lawsuit can be filed.
Under Florida law, a person who slips and falls on a “transitory foreign substance” in a place of business may be entitled to damages. A “transitory foreign substance” may be either a solid object or a liquid that is in an area where it does not belong-such as spilled soda in a grocery store aisle or scattered merchandise in a toy store.
The injured victim must prove that the business knew or should have known about the foreign substance and that it should have either removed the substance or provided warnings to visitors about it-such as by placing a wet floor sign by a spill.
What causes most fall claims?
Thousands of individuals are injured in slip and falls in Florida every year, including Tamarac. Of course, there are a number of ways that falls may occur. Depending on the nature of the fall and the victim’s physical condition, a fall may result in a sprain and some bruising, or it may cause more serious injuries, such as broken bones or spinal cord injuries.
Falls may occur in the following ways:
- Slips and falls: In these claims, a foreign substance affects the traction of the walking surface. Spilled liquids are often the cause of slip and fall accidents;
- Step and fall accidents: These falls are triggered by issues in the walking path-such as a hole in a sidewalk; and
- Trip and fall accidents: In these claims, the victim’s foot hits something in the walkway that should not be there, such as an item in a store that has fallen off of a shelf.
Slip and fall claims are the most common type of fall. In addition, the presence of foreign objects in places of business is also commonly cited in fall accident claims.
What is the statute of limitations in a slip and fall claim in Florida?
Florida law provides relief for the injured victims in slip and fall claims; however, the law does not provide an indefinite amount of time to pursue one of these claims. There are deadlines in place that limit how long injured claimants have to file claims in slip and fall incidents. This deadline is called the statute of limitations. If a claimant fails to file a claim within the appropriate deadline, the claimant may lose the right to ever pursue legal action against the property owner. This means that the claimant will be solely responsible for all expenses that are incurred as a result of the slip and fall. It is very important that you contact a Tamarac Slip and Fall Lawyer immediately after a slip and fall to discuss your claim and the statute of limitations.
What damages are available in a slip and fall claim?
Slip and fall claims vary significantly in value. An injured victim may have only a few hundred dollars in medical bills as a result of the fall. In other cases, the victim may have several hundred thousand dollars in medical expenses and may require future medical care. The value of the claim depends on how the victim of the slip and fall was damaged. Under Florida law, damages may include:
- Medical bills, including prescription bills, pharmacy bills, physical therapy bills, surgery and anesthesiology bills, and other such expenses;
- Lost wages, if the victim must miss time from work to recover from his or her injuries;
- The cost of future medical care, such as surgeries to repair damage caused by the slip and fall;
- The cost of altering one’s residence, such as building wheelchair ramps or installing stair lifts;
- Pain and suffering suffered in both the past as well as in the future; and
- Emotional distress.
At Englander Peebles, we understand that you want to know how much your case is worth as soon as possible. However, it is not possible to properly value a claim without a careful examination of all of the evidence. Further, the owner’s liability must be clearly determined before the damages may be effectively calculated.
Shortly after a slip and fall claim, it is difficult, if not impossible, for an injured victim to truly comprehend the extent of his or her injuries. After such an incident occurs, the victim’s adrenaline may mask pain from certain injuries. Only after the adrenaline has worn off may the victim realize that he or she has been seriously injured. Additionally, some injuries simply take a few days to manifest.
It is also difficult for injured victims to accurately predict how much medical care they may need for the injuries caused by the fall. Although treatment may seem straightforward at the time of an injury, unforeseen complications can prolong treatment, often for many months or more.
Finally, injured victims often underestimate how their injuries will impact their personal and professional lives. For example, consider a slip and fall victim that suffers a spinal cord injury that results in permanent impairment. The victim may fall into a deep depression and even suffer from post traumatic stress disorder as a result of the fall. Immediately after the fall, the victim would have no way of predicting such an impact.
What types of injuries are caused by slip and fall accidents?
Slip and fall accidents present a range of injuries, depending on the circumstances of the fall. Some injuries heal in just a few weeks, whereas others may never fully heal-leaving the victim permanently disabled. Some of the most commonly cited injuries in slip and fall claims include:
- Head injuries: Head injuries are among the most serious injuries that may result from a slip and fall claim. If the victim lands on the chest or on the back, the vertebrae in the neck may jerk the skull back and forth. This sudden motion can cause significant injury to the victim. Whiplash is a common consequence of such a motion, as are more serious injuries, such as traumatic brain injuries and skull fractures;
- Ankle and wrist injuries: When we are about to fall, our body’s natural reflex is to reach out to attempt to brace for the fall. However, when we reach out, we may land on our hands and/or wrists, which can result in sprains or breaks. Losing our footing also often results in sprained or broken ankles;
- Muscle and tendon injuries: Another human instinct is to “tense up” before a fall. This tension may cause the muscles to overstretch. It may also lead to an overextension of the tendons; and
- Spinal cord and back injuries: Many individuals land flat on their backs when they slip and fall. Landing in such a position means that the spine takes the brunt of the fall, which can result in fractured vertebrae or disc injuries. If damage to the spinal cord occurs, the victim may be permanently disabled. For example, the victim may suffer some type of paralysis.
What evidence will be submitted to the insurance company in a slip and fall claim?
In any injury claim, objective evidence must be submitted to substantiate any requests for damages. Each party, both the victim and the property owner, will submit any evidence that is relevant to the claims and defenses in the case. In slip and fall claims, evidence may take the form of:
- Medical records from any and all providers the victim has seen for treatment of the slip and fall injury;
- Past medical records of the victim, to determine if any injuries were pre-existing;
- Incident reports;
- Medical bills for expenses related to the slip and fall injury;
- Eyewitness reports;
- Video footage, such as surveillance footage from a business;
- Personal statements or affidavits;
- Expert reports;
- Employment records; and
In one slip and fall claim, depending on the complexity, boxes and boxes of documents may be reviewed. Generally, as the amount of damages increases, so does the volume of evidence that is reviewed in the claim.
Slip and fall claims focus on the timing of the accident and any notice the property owner had of the hazard. Most evidence compiled in the case will center on these two issues. The parties will need to establish when the fall occurred. The parties must also determine how much time passed from the time the hazard came about in relation to when the victim fell. Was it just a couple of minutes, or was it an hour? The longer the hazard was present, the more likely it will be that the property owner faces at least some liability for the victim’s injuries.
With notice, the victim must show that the property owner did know or should have known about the dangerous condition. For example, in some cases, video surveillance footage has captured employees walking by a spilled liquid multiple times before a victim came through the area and fell. In this example, your attorney will argue that property owner had notice-through its employees-that the spill had occurred.
Will my slip and fall case go to trial?
Many injured victims are nervous to file a legal claim to recover damages for their injuries because they are afraid of going to court. However, the odds of going to court are very small. The majority of personal injury claims, including slip and fall claims, will settle long before they have to go to trial. In fact, in some cases, it is possible to settle the claim with the insurance company even before filing a lawsuit even becomes necessary. At Englander Peebles, our experienced slip and fall attorneys will ensure that any settlement you agree to is fair and protects your legal rights. In the event that trial is necessary, you can rest assured that the attorneys at Englander Peebles are experienced trial lawyers.
Florida judges encourage the parties to a personal injury claim to try to settle it on their own, without requiring the assistance of the court system. One way that many parties settle their claims is through the use of mediation. In every Tamarac Slip and Fall, the parties are required to attend mediation before their case goes to trial.
Mediation is a type of alternative dispute resolution-it does not require a court hearing and no judges or court reporters are present. Mediation is informal and is often conducted in an attorney’s conference room or at a mediation center. Typically, the only individuals present at mediation are the parties, their attorneys, the insurance adjuster, and the mediator.
During mediation, the parties will have an opportunity to meet privately with the mediator to discuss their positions in the claim. The mediator will then go back and forth between the parties, conveying settlement offers and other bits of information that the parties have provided. The parties also have the option to disclose information to the mediator in confidence. Mediators cannot be called to testify at a trial in a case they have mediated. Therefore, the parties have the opportunity to be open and honest with the mediator without fear that the statements they make during mediation will somehow be used against them.
If the parties settle the case at mediation, the settlement agreement will conclude the case. If the parties do not settle the case, they may schedule another mediation session, attempt to settle the case on their own, or they may need to contact the court to schedule a trial.
Will the property owner try to blame me for my slip and fall accident?
In most cases, the property owner will try to shift at least some of the liability in the case to the slip and fall victim. Florida uses a comparative negligence standard. This means that, if the slip and fall victim is determined to be 20 percent liable for the fall, the victim’s recovery will be reduced by 20 percent. If the victim would have recovered $100,000, he or she will instead recover $80,000.
Common arguments that property owners may raise are that the victim was distracted at the time of the fall, was wearing ill-fitted shoes, or disregarded caution signs. For example, if the victim slipped and fell in a business on a rainy day because the floors were wet, the property owner may try to assign some blame to the victim if the victim was wearing flip-flops.
The property owner may also argue that the victim’s injuries are not directly related to the slip and fall. For example, consider a slip and fall case where a victim sprains an ankle. The victim suffers from ankle pain for months after the slip and fall. However, the property owner may point to a previous ankle injury in the victim’s medical records and argues that the injury was pre-existing. In Florida, even if you had a pre-existing injury, you can still recover compensation if the injury was aggravated by the later incident.
At Englander Peebles, our attorneys are able to anticipate the defenses that a property owner may raise and prepare accordingly. Our team will work tirelessly in an effort to recover the maximum compensation possible under Florida law.
What steps should I take if I slip and fall on someone else’s property?
If you slip and fall and injure yourself on someone else’s property, there are steps that you should take to protect your legal rights.
Unless your injuries prevent you from doing so, ask the property owner to complete an incident report that details the date, time, and location of the accident. Make sure the owner also includes the names and contact information of any witnesses who saw the fall happen. Make sure you have a copy of this report when you leave the property. It is also wise to take photographs of the area where you fell and to write down the events leading up to the fall. Having this information can be invaluable when seeking compensation with an insurance company.
If you are injured, it is important that you seek medical treatment as soon as possible after you fall. Also, make sure that you follow through with any treatment plans your providers prescribe. Insurance companies and defense attorneys will argue that you were not seriously injured and are not entitled to all of the compensation you seek if you did not seek medical attention right away.
How should I work with my attorney during my claim?
Remember, your attorney was not with you when you slipped and fell. Therefore, you will have to help your attorney piece together exactly what happened. Other ways you can help your attorney include:
- Being honest and open;
- Answering phone calls, emails, and letters as soon as you can;
- Providing evidence, such as medical records, as soon as requested;
- Showing up early for appointments, court proceedings, and other engagements; and
- Informing you attorney about any prior or subsequent accidents or injuries.
Insurance adjusters keep calling me. Do I need to talk to them?
The short answer is no. Insurance adjusters will only try to gather information that helps the insurance company that insures the property-which, of course, may hurt your case. If an insurance adjuster calls you to discuss the incident or to obtain a recorded statement, you should first speak to an experienced Tamarac Slip and Fall Lawyer to obtain legal advice.
Call Englander Peebles, Experienced Tamarac Slip and Fall Attorneys
The injury lawyers at Englander Peebles are experienced in all types of slip and fall claims and have served many clients in the Tamarac area. Our attorneys understand that a legal claim is stressful and overwhelming and are available to answer any questions you may have as well as address your concerns. We will make sure that your legal rights are protected throughout the case. To schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys, call (954) 500-HURT (4878) today.