We rarely hear about slip and falls in the news, but the frequency at which they occur and the effects they have on people’s lives is outstanding. In fact, they are the second leading cause of accidental injuries in Florida. And they are even listed as the top cause for both fatal and non-fatal injuries to people over 65, according to the Florida Department of Health.
Property owners have a duty of care to those they invite, induce, or lead into their premises for a lawful purpose. Properties must be maintained; otherwise, property owners are liable for damages. That includes clearing away or properly signposting hazards. But how quickly should they be expected to be able to do this? Under Florida law, property owners are expected to clean away a hazard in a reasonable amount of time, but what is reasonable?
If you have suffered a personal injury as a result of a slip and fall, then you could be entitled to compensation for your medical expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering. These cases can be complex, so you should seek a free consultation from The Law Place. We have over 75 years of collective experience and are dedicated to seeking justice for our clients.
Contact us now at (941) 444-4444. Phone lines are open 24/7.
What is a Reasonable Amount of Time to Clean Up a Hazard?
In cases of Florida premises liability, you must prove negligence, as per Florida Statute 768.81. Negligence means that someone breached their duty of care to you by acting unreasonably. There is no set time period for a hazard to be in place in order for negligence to apply. Instead, they should have cleared the hazard as a reasonable person would have.
How long is a reasonable amount of time for a hazard to be noticed and cleared away? It varies from case to case, which is why a personal injury attorney is needed to prove negligence. They may ask questions such as:
- Was there a valid reason for the hazard to be there when you tripped or fell?
- Was there an opportunity for the hazard to be cleared away or for warnings to be put in place?
- Does the property owner have systems in place to prevent and remove potential hazards? Are their systems sufficient, and were they followed?
- Are there any factors that increased the risk of an accident unnecessarily, i.e., was the lighting poor or was there enough staff to spot hazards?
Your personal injury lawyer will fight to get you the compensation you deserve by showing that the hazard was present long enough for the property owner to have reasonably known about it and remedied it to prevent harm.
Examples of Hazardous Conditions
There are many different circumstances that constitute hazardous conditions. Examples include:
- Trip hazards.
- A lack of slip-resistant paint on a walkway.
- Failure to have a proper handrail.
- A substance on the floor.
- Changes in the height of surfaces.
- A wet floor.
Why Were You on Someone Else’s Property?
The first thing to consider when deciding if premises liability claims are valid is why you were on someone else’s property in the first place. If you were invited by the property owner into the building, then you have a stronger case. The three types of people that enter a property are:
A trespasser is an individual who should not have been on the property when they were hurt.
Additionally, if someone is invited onto a property and then allows someone else to enter who shouldn’t, then they also become a trespasser.
A trespasser has no legal right to be on a property, and therefore the property owner has no duty to keep premises safe. However, they can still be found liable for injuries if they intentionally created harmful conditions, such as setting traps for trespassers.
Licensees are on someone else’s property that is not open to the public because the owner of the property has allowed the licensee to enter, i.e., going to a friend’s house. Courts acknowledge that an owner owes licensees a standard of care to safeguard against hazards.
When you are invited onto the property or encouraged to enter, the property owner owes you the highest duty of care. As an invitee, a property owner must take reasonable care to protect you from harm, including keeping their property safe and warning people of hidden dangers.
There are two kinds of invitees; a public invitee is invited to enter or remain on the property as a member of the public because the property is open to the public, i.e., a public park or footpath. A business invitee is invited because of business dealings with the property owner, i.e., a shop or salon.
Under Florida Premises Liability Law, Is the Owner’s Duty Different for An Invitee, Licensee, or Trespasser?
Property owners have the highest duty towards those they invite onto their property for personal or business reasons.
Under Florida premises liability law, property owners owe invitees a duty of care to maintain safe conditions and warn people of any potential hazards.
On the other hand, trespassers have little protection unless traps were purposefully set for them.
Comparative Negligence in Florida Slip and Fall Accidents
In Florida, comparative fault laws apply, as outlined in Florida Statute 768.81. This means that if a property owner is found liable for injuries, then they may be able to reduce their liability by proving that you shared some of the blame.
You can still claim damages so long as you were less than 50% at fault. However, your settlement could be reduced by the percentage by which you are considered to be at fault. For example, if there was a spillage on the floor of a supermarket, but you were intoxicated, then you could be found to be 20% at fault, in which case your settlement will be reduced by 20%.
This makes proving negligence especially important. If the property owner failed to address a hazard where they should have, then you deserve full compensation. A personal injury lawyer will be there to support you and will make sure that you are not taken advantage of.
Comparative Negligence Examples
- You were not where you were expected to be – Perhaps you were not where you were supposed to be.
- Type and condition of shoes – Were you wearing inappropriate footwear considering the situation?
- State of mind – Were you intoxicated, or had you failed to take prescribed medication?
- State of the body – Did you have previous injuries that contributed to the slip and fall?
- Age – Did your old or young age contribute to the accident?
What to Do After a Slip and Fall in Florida
Following a slip and fall in Florida, after prioritizing your health and seeking medical attention, you should gather as much information as possible. Any information you have could help your case. You should write about what happened in detail as soon as you can and take any photos of the scene and your injuries. If there were any witnesses, ask for their contact information. You should also seek medical attention and keep your medical bills.
Finally, never admit responsibility or fault. You could be contacted by the property owner’s insurance company soon after the accident. They may hope to get you to slip up and admit fault or accept a settlement quickly that is less than what you deserve. Contact The Law Place as soon as possible for a free consultation, and we will guide you through the legal process.
Damages Following a Slip and Fall Accident
If you can prove premises liability against the property owner, then you should be able to claim for the following damages:
- Medical bills – Perhaps the biggest expense following a slip and fall is your medical bills. Your current bills, any future expenses, and rehabilitation should all be compensated for.
- Pain and suffering – Pain and suffering damages should compensate you for any emotional suffering or loss of enjoyment in life. Have you had to change the way you live your life? Or has the stress affected the life of you and your family? All of this should be taken into consideration. These kinds of damages can be difficult to quantify, but a personal injury lawyer will know how to secure maximum compensation.
- Lost wages – If your injuries caused you to miss work, then you should be compensated for any lost wages. Furthermore, if you are left unable to carry out the same work, then you should be compensated for lost earning potential or the cost of re-training.
- Incidental expenses – Your injuries caused unforeseen expenses, such as home adjustments to support your recovery and transport to and from the hospital. Everything should be taken into account.
- Wrongful death – If you lost a loved one in a slip and fall accident, then you should be able to claim damages for their lost income to a family household and funeral expenses, as per Florida Statute 768.21.
Filing a Lawsuit After a Slip and Fall Accident
When you contact The Law Place, we will give you free initial advice and discuss whether we believe you have a valid claim. If you do, we will invite you to a free consultation. At this point, we will explain what we can do for you and our fee structure.
We work on a no-win-no-fee basis, and everything is monitored by The State Bar Association. We are upfront about our costs and will not leave you with any surprise bills.
Following your free consultation, you may decide to walk away, you will have more of an understanding of your case, and you may decide to go it alone. However, if you do agree to representation, then we will get the right to work. You are more likely to receive a bigger settlement when you hire an experienced personal injury lawyer to fight your corner.
The first thing they will help you to do is preparing a summons and a complaint explaining the details of your case and what you expect in a settlement.
The property owner has 20 days to answer your complaint, where they will admit or deny allegations and ask for more information. They may also put forth affirmative defenses. These are legal doctrines that they will try to prove to reduce their liability.
Next is the discovery phase. Each party will spend time gathering evidence and finding out as much as possible about what occurred. Things like CCTV and other documents can be requested, and interrogatories may be carried out where parties are required to answer questions under oath. Your attorney will help to prepare you for this.
At The Law Place, a premises liability attorney will become your advocate. They will guide you through the process so that you can secure maximum compensation.
Settlement in Slip and Fall Cases
Personal injury cases are usually mediated outside of court.
Parties come together and agree on a fair settlement. If liability is clear, then it may just come down to working out the value of your case.
However, if your case does go to court, then we will have everything we need ready to continue to support you on your journey.
The Slip and Fall Statute of Limitations in Florida
Florida Statue 95.11, or the statute of limitations, gives you four years to make a claim from the date of the accident. However, there can be exceptions in some extreme circumstances, such as if your injuries meant that you could not take action sooner.
Although you have four years, we suggest that you contact a premises liability lawyer as soon as possible following your slip and fall. That way, they can get right to work and are more likely to be able to obtain strong evidence, such as witness statements, CCTV, and documents related to your case.
If your liability claim involves the death of a loved one, then the statute of limitations is reduced to two years.
Contact The Law Place Today
At The Law Place, we have over 75 years of experience collectively. We will review your case as a team so that you can benefit from all of this knowledge. At which point, we will match an attorney to your case, and they will be there to support you and guide you through the process.
Most of your attorneys have an AVVO rating of 10.0, the highest possible rating, which is obtained through years of service, positive client reviews, and awards.
Contact us now for a free consultation and find out what we can do for you at (941) 444-4444.