Many premises liability cases involve slip and fall — sometimes called trip and fall — accidents. Lawyers routinely use the term “slip and fall” generically to refer to accidents where someone was caused to fall because of a foreign substance on the floor or ground, or because of some other dangerous or defective condition existing on someone else’s property. In each instance, the fall and subsequent injury is the result of negligence on the part of the landowner or business operator.
Below we discuss various aspects of premises negligence as pertains to slip and fall injuries, and what conditions allow for legal compensation.
Common Types of Slip and Fall Accidents
Slip and fall accidents can be caused by a variety of hazardous conditions including insufficient lighting in stairwells, parking lots, parking garages or along walkways. The lack of stair railings, the presence of cracked walkways, loose or uneven floor boards, torn carpeting, gaps in flooring, painted concrete, wet or slick floors, potholes, spillage of slippery foreign substances, building code violations and the failure to warn of a known danger are also common culprits.
These accidents can occur at private homes or at any number of commercial establishments including restaurants, bars, hotels, grocery stores, shopping centers, retail stores, flea markets, banks, office buildings, parking garages, amusement parks, construction sites, apartment and condominium buildings, hospitals or other commercial properties.
Florida Slip and Fall Law
Property and business owners in Florida have a legal duty to maintain their premises in a reasonably safe condition for the patrons and guests who are invited to come onto the property. This duty includes the responsibility to clean up spills, remove tripping hazards, inspect walking surfaces for dangerous conditions and to warn of any danger that cannot be immediately eliminated.
In most cases, in order to establish liability for a slip and fall accident, the injured victim must prove:
- The dangerous condition was either created by the property or business owner, or that they were aware of it before the fall occurred and negligently failed to make it safe
- The dangerous condition caused the fall and resulting injuries.
This type of case is often the most difficult to win since businesses, landowners and their insurance companies regularly destroy evidence, repair the defective condition, or clean up the foreign substance that caused the fall and then blame the victim. Slip and fall cases frequently involve complicated liability issues including constructive notice and compliance with local building codes as well as questions about insurance coverage. For these reasons, it is important to consult with a lawyer who is experienced in litigating complex premises liability cases and who has a track record of recovering substantial compensation for slip and fall victims.
The key to receiving compensation for any kind of injury is the proof of negligence on the part of the property owner. This begs the question: what constitutes negligence?
In the case of a slip and fall, one must show that a reasonable person should have known about the danger that caused the accident. This can be established if:
- The condition had existed for a certain length of time
- That there is evidence someone had warned the property owner
- If the property violated a safety or building code
- Miscellaneous conditions, such as poor lighting in stairwells or walkways could have contributed to the accident
Determining if a homeowner had been careless and therefore liable rests upon whether the condition that caused the damage was due to recklessness or simple lack of reasonable caution and care. Owners have an obligation to keep their property in a sensibly safe condition, particularly zones where any guests may pass through. On the off-chance that the property owner knew or ought to have thought about — and after that neglected to repair — a perilous condition, the homeowner will for the most part be held subject. In many cases, homeowner’s insurance will cover liability and medical bills.
Businesses, especially those with a lot of foot traffic, such as restaurants, shopping malls, or parking garage, are often targets of slip and fall cases. Numerous incidents can befall the property, and not all of them are the express fault of the business owner.
In order to prove a business is the at-fault party and therefore should be considered legally responsible, it needs to be shown that someone associated with the establishment had prior knowledge of the dangerous condition, intentionally caused the dangerous condition, or allowed the danger to continue past the point wherein a reasonable person would have noticed it (as mentioned above).
Like the above for homeowners, municipalities are liable only if common reason dictates that negligence of a sidewalk or a street was to blame for your accident; simply falling down outside within city limits is not enough to receive compensation. If it can be demonstrably determined that a pathway was damaged or dilapidated and should have been repaired, and that the disrepair was the chief cause of the accident, you may be able to make a claim against the city or municipality in which the accident occurred.
Types of Compensation
Most injured people may feel embarrassed or guilty about looking for compensation after a fall, but looking for financial assistance after a serious injury occurs, due to the negligence of others, is only fair, and is seen as such under the law, a branch known commonly as personal injury law. Depending on the severity of the damage, you could even receive money above and beyond medical bills, such as:
- Loss of Salary
- Pain and Suffering
- Punitive Damages
- Emotional Distress or Psychological Damages
Slip and fall accidents can result in serious, life-altering injuries. These can include:
- Traumatic brain injury
- Spinal cord injury
- Fractures and orthopedic injuries
- Ankle fractures
- Hip fractures
- Wrist fractures
- Elbow fractures
- Knee injury
- Herniated discs in the neck or back
The lawyers at Hannon Legal Group have been successfully handling slip and fall cases also known as premises liability cases, throughout the state of Florida and the United States for many years. Our attorneys have many years of experience in establishing liability on the part of negligent land and business owners and know how to deal with insurance companies to get you the compensation you deserve.