Know Your Rights: When is a Property Owner Liable for a Slip and Fall Accident?
Let’s face it, everyone slips and falls at some point. In most case you embarrassedly brush yourself off and get on with your day. But sometimes, especially for the elderly and those with disabilities, the consequences can be much more severe, and the negligence of property owners could be the real cause of the accident. If you are the victim of a slip and fall accident, consider hiring a personal injury lawyer to ensure that you receive the proper remediations for your injury.
Many factors must be considering when determining the liability of the property owner in a slip and fall incident. Unmarked wet floors, defective stairs or even a rough patch of ground can cause serious injury. Property owners are fully responsible for keeping their properties safe and less accident prone. Most well-to-do property owners know the proper measures to mitigate these incidents, but some do not due to carelessness, apathy or ignorance.
In the state of Florida, a slip and fall victim must prove three things in order to hold the property owner liable and win in court.
- – The property or business owner must be proven to owe a “duty of care” to the injured party. This means the business must be open thus implying that the victim was invited onto the premises.
- – The owner or an employee must have been in some way knowledgeable of the dangerous area and decided to do nothing to remedy the situation. It can be difficult to prove definitively that someone knew of the danger but it is a crucial step to winning a slip and fall case.
- – It also must be established that because the property owner did not use “reasonable care,” the accident occurred. Reasonable care is a vague term, but usually common sense and previous settlements can determine the proper steps a property owner should take to make their premises safe. Accidents will inevitably happen, no matter how careful an owner attempts to be, so it is important to try to prove that your accident could have been avoided through proper measures.
Proving these factors in a court of law is near impossible without an experienced attorney present, fighting for your case. Many of the factors that must be proven do not completely rely on hard evidence and facts so it is vitally important that someone experienced is arguing on your behalf.
The statute of limitations on a Florida slip and fall case is four years. After that, the injured party will be unable to seek damages for an accident.
How to Know if Your Claim is Reasonable
Determining reasonability is key when deciding to move forward with a lawsuit as Florida statutes pertaining to frivolous lawsuits could leave you paying the defendant’s legal fees.
There are commonly two parts to determining reasonability: whether or not the injured person behaved in a reasonable way and also whether the property owner took reasonable measures to prevent the injury.
Before filing a slip and fall lawsuit you should consider some important factors pertaining to the incident:
- – If you tripped over an object, was there a necessary reason for the object to be there in the first place?
- – Could the object you tripped over be covered or in some other way made safer by the owner of the property? Could there have been a barrier put in place or clear warning of the danger?
- – Did poor or out of repair lighting contribute to the accident?
- – If the slipping occurred on a wet floor or over a piece of damaged floor board, had the dangerous area been present for a long time or had it appeared just recently? It becomes more difficult for a property owner to prove they were not aware of a problem area the longer it is present.
Florida uses the doctrine of comparative fault when awarding damages. This means damages awarded to the injured party are reduced by the percentage of fault they were responsible for the accident. If the plaintiff is mostly responsible for an accident, they will still receive some compensation but not the majority of the amount. As such, it is very important to understand how much of the blame lies in the carelessness of the injured person.
Some important questions to ask are:
- – Was there a legitimate reason you had to walk through the dangerous area? Could you have avoided the area through common sense?
- – Were you warned by a sign or an employee that the area could have been dangerous?
- – Would a generally careful person have avoided the area, or at least not slipped, or could this situation happen to anyone?
- – Were you distracted or behaving carelessly at the time of the incident? Were you running, jumping, on your phone or looking away when you fell?
If all these questions lead you to believe that the a large proportion of the blame rests with the property owner, then you have a good shot at winning a slip and fall case. It is important to be honest and critical with yourself and think carefully about the details of the incident. Medical bills and injuries are bad enough on their own without having to worry about paying large sums of legal fees in the event of a loss in court.
That being said, the compensations you can be awarded for a slip and fall case are certainly worthwhile. A good attorney can not only get your medical expenses covered but also get you money for current and future lost wages, emotional distress and other costs related to the injury.
Contact a Personal Injury Attorney Today
The Pendas Law Firm has a team of experienced personal injury attorneys in locations across Florida who are truly to committed to seeking justice for their clients, large and small. We at the Pendas Law Firm treat every client’s issue as our own. Contact us today for a free consultation.