Slip and fall injuries are caused when a person slips and falls as a result of a dangerous or hazardous condition on someone else’s property. Inside a building, dangerous conditions such as torn carpeting, abrupt changes in flooring, poor lighting, narrow stairs, or a wet floor can cause you to slip and hurt yourself. Outside a building, you may slip and fall because of rain, ice, snow or a hidden hazard, such as a gap or hard to see pothole in the ground.
Slip and fall accidents can occur on commercial, residential or public property. Regardless of where they happen, all property or building owners have a certain level of responsibility (duty of care) to make sure an environment is safe, and our lawyers are dedicated to ensuring that you receive the compensation you are due.
Injuries from falls are a serious issue and are more common than you might imagine. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 800,000 patients a year are hospitalized because of a fall injury, often on someone else’s property. Injuries caused by slipping and falling can be devastating and can range from a broken hip or leg to a traumatic brain injury or sometimes even death.
In certain circumstances, the property owner, manager or lessee may be responsible for the condition that caused your fall and should be held accountable for your injuries and medical bills. If you or a loved one slipped or tripped and fell on the property of another person or business property, don’t hesitate to call a slip and fall lawyer at Zervos & Calta, PLLC for a free evaluation.
Floors that are wet and slippery cause the most accidents that lead to a slip and fall injury. Sometimes a slippery floor isn’t even the fault of the landowner, and yet they can be held liable under premise liability laws. Our personal injury lawyers are experienced in getting justice for accident victims.
There are many things that can cause a slip and fall accident and they include:
Structural damages to a building, often due to age or wear and tear, can be a significant cause of fall injuries. Uneven steps, parking lot potholes, cracked sidewalks, broken tiles, or torn carpeting can create dangerous situations for visitors to a building. To prove negligence, there will need to be proof that the property owner knew or should have known about the problem and failed to repair it.
Occasionally, negligence can be proven by violation of a statute. Building owners must ensure that the building’s structure is in compliance with applicable building codes. For example, handrails and other similar structures typically must be installed at a certain general height. If you fall on a stairway that lacked appropriate handrails, and the lack thereof caused your injuries, you may have a valid claim against the building owner for violating building codes.
Weather-related slip and fall accidents are difficult cases for injured plaintiffs. Landowners are generally expected to take reasonable steps to reduce hazards created by adverse weather. This can include, but is not limited to, shoveling snow, salting or sanding icy and slippery spots, and installing anti-slip devices on outdoor steps.
As with other cases, if the landowner has no reasonable opportunity to correct the problem, as where a flash flood has created a hazard, the landowner will not held liable for injuries caused by the hazard.
For fall accident lawyers to successfully proceed with a claim for injuries resulting from a fall, you must first be able to prove that the property owner, manager or lessee owed you a duty of care. You must also be able to determine what caused you to fall, that the premise owner, manager, or lessee could have reasonably prevented the fall from curing the dangerous condition and did not, and that you suffered injuries as a result of the fall.
Property owners have a duty of care to those who are on their property. The degree of care varies depending upon whether the person is a customer or client (also known as a “business invitee”), a licensee or a trespasser. They must take reasonable care to be sure there are no unsafe conditions that could cause someone to trip and fall.
Under Florida law, invitees are those invited onto the premises to provide a benefit to the landowner. Invitees also include those who are on the premises which have been left open to the public. The landowner owes a duty of reasonable care to invitees on the property and must take reasonable measures to protect them against dangerous conditions that are known to the landowner, that have existed for a sufficient period of time that they should have been known to the landowner, or that have been created by the landowner. Reasonable measures include, but are not limited to, consistent periodic inspections of the property, proper repair of known dangers, and careful maintenance of the premises.
Licensees are those who have permission (either express or implied) to be on the landowner’s property, regardless of any benefit to the landowner. Licensees include salespeople as well as social guests. The landowner must avoid intentional harm to the licensee, and to either repair the dangerous condition or warn the licensee of the existence of the hazardous condition.
Trespassers are owed virtually no duty of care from the landowner, other than to refrain from intentionally harming the trespasser. Florida law provides an exception to that rule, however, in that when a landowner has reason to know that trespassers are currently on their land, or they regularly come onto that land, the landowner must warn the trespasser of any dangerous conditions that are not open or obvious.
In slip and fall cases, as with all other negligence claims, comparative negligence applies. As a guest on someone else’s property, you are expected to exercise reasonable judgment and caution.
Example: You fall while walking down the stairs at a hotel, sustaining serious injuries. A jury finds that the property owner had been warned about the trouble spot weeks ago and failed to correct it. However, the jury also finds that you were reading the newspaper while you walked down the stairs and your inattention contributed to causing the accident. If the jury finds you 50 percent at fault and the defendant 50 percent at fault, the defendant would have to pay you only one half of the total damages you incurred.
Slip and fall accidents are the most common type of “premises liability” cases, which center on the question of a property owner’s duty to care for the property. Injury by fire or other accidents resulting from defects in the conditions of buildings also fall under this category.
Slip and fall cases are governed under negligence law. To win a premises liability claim, an injured victim has to prove either that the defendant created the hazard that led to the accident or that the defendant knew or should have known about the danger and should have had it removed or repaired. This can often be difficult to prove, since proving when a given hazard first appeared can be challenging.
Example: If you slip and fall on a banana in a grocery store, absent some evidence of when the banana first fell onto the floor, it may be difficult to prove that the store “knew or should have known” about the dangerous condition. If the banana fell onto the floor ten seconds before you arrived, then the store most likely could not have known about it. Since Plaintiffs have the burden of proof, demonstrating when the hazard first appeared and that the store should have known about the hazard presents problems in certain cases.
After being injured in a slip and fall accident, it is highly recommended that you file an incident report with the owner, manager, or lessee of the property. It is also encouraged that you take photographs of the dangerous condition on the property that caused you to fall before it is fixed or cleaned up. It is equally important to obtain contact information for all potential witnesses and to call a personal injury attorney to make sure all of your rights are preserved and that you receive fair compensation for your fall injuries.
If you or someone you know has experienced a slip and fall injury, the injury lawyers at the law firm of Zervos & Calta will use their decades of litigation experience to investigate your slip and fall claim. We will interview witnesses, take photographs of the location, as well as of any injuries, and will fight for you to be compensated for those injuries.
Our personal injury attorneys have years of experience handling car accident, medical malpractice, and many other types of cases. Call today for a free evaluation and speak directly with an experienced slip and fall attorney.
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