Slip and Falls
If you have ever slipped and fell then you know just how startling and frightening the experience can be. An hour trip to the grocery store can turn into an unexpected trip to the hospital. Whether spilled juice in a grocery store aisle or an out of place wood beam at a home improvement store, dangerous conditions can have lasting consequences. In addition to the initial shock, a slip and fall accident may leave you with painful injuries such as broken bones, dislocated joints, brain injuries, neck, back, or spinal cord injuries, concussions and bruised vertebrae together with overwhelming medical bills, and the inability to go to work. Thankfully, Florida protects people by imposing a duty of care on business establishments with regard to maintaining safe premises. If your slip and fall happened as a result of a hazard that the property’s owner or management knew about but did not fix, you may be able to pursue legal action against the property owner or business. However, in order to prove your case and receive compensation for your injuries, you must first prove legal liability and negligence. Do not go through this process by yourself. A slip and fall lawyer can help. Call the Andrew J. Pascale today.
Typical Slip and Fall Cases
Some of the most common situations that lead to slip and fall accidents are:
- Uneven surfaces such as a cracked or jagged sidewalk
- Obstacles that are not marked such as a curb, step or extension cord
- Wet or slick slippery surfaces from a spill or water leak
- Irresponsibly maintained property like potholes in a parking lot
- Stairs or steps that do not have handrails
Although these are some of the most common examples than can lead to slips and falls, practically any hazardous condition can cause a slip and fall accident.
In most instances, the property owner or manager of the property will be held responsible.
When is the Property’s Owner Responsible?
Pursuant to Florida premises liability law, property owners must maintain their property in a way that is reasonably safe and free of danger or hazards for those who visit. This means that, if the property owner or manager knows — or should know — about a potentially unsafe situation, they must take fast action to correct it.
If the owner or manager cannot correct the problem reasonably quickly, he or she must do something to bring it to the attention to any visitors who might injure themselves such as placing a warning sign there or roping off the area. If he or she fails to meet these minimum standards, and someone gets hurt as a result, the property owner can be liable for the injuries. However, it is important to note that the property’s owner is only legally responsible for the injury if the person injured was an invitee such as customers or contractors working on the property or if the injured person was a licensee such as social guests.
No Duty to Trespassers
A property’s owner owes no legal duty of care to a trespasser. This means that if the property’s owner does not safeguard a trespasser from a known danger, he will probably not be legally responsible for any injuries sustained by the trespasser. This does not mean that a property’s owner can intentionally injure a trespasser.
How Do I Prove the Property Owner Was Negligent?
After you have determined that the property’s owner is the correct party at fault, you then must show that he was negligent. The four required elements of any negligence case that you must demonstrate in a slip and fall accident are:
- Duty of care: The property’s owner has a legal duty to you to maintain the premises free of hazards or dangers that can cause harm.
- Breach of duty: The property owner breached his duty of care and allowed a potentially hazardous or dangerous condition to exist on the premises.
- Causation: That condition or hazard was the cause of your slip and fall and, subsequently, the cause of your injuries.
- Damages: You sustained quantifiable damages as a result such as medical bills, lost wages, etc.
The biggest hurdle in proving negligence in a slip and fall case is showing that the property owner either knew or should have known about the dangerous condition. And that you did not cause or contribute to the accident through your own carelessness. The legal standard for whether the property owner should have known, the reasonable person standard, looks at whether most owners would have known about the problem and taken action to correct it.
What Should I Do Next if I Was Hurt in a Slip and Fall?
If you slip and fall in any public place, you should get immediate medical attention. Then you should alert the property owner or manager about the incident and request his name and contact information, speak to any witnesses that may have been present and get their names and phone numbers.
Insurance companies and businesses often believe that slip and fall claims are frivolous or exaggerated and they will therefore often try to dissuade you by refusing to negotiate a settlement. Hiring a lawyer to assist you can show the sincerity of your claim. Miami business lawyer Andrew J. Pascale can evaluate your case and resolve your claim. He works with seasoned personal injury attorneys who have significant experience trying slip and fall cases when settlement fails.
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