Slip and Fall Accidents in Florida
These days, we are all encouraged to be more active by getting off the couch or up from our desks to spend more time on our feet. Some choose to take the stairs instead of riding the elevator, wake up a little earlier in the morning for a brisk walk, park our car a few extra feet away from the store entrance and run our neighborhood errands on foot rather than driving. As we make the effort to get in more “steps,” we are also relying on others to maintain sidewalks, stairs, floors and other surfaces we walk on so that they are safe and easy to navigate. When property owners fail to take these basic and necessary precautions, “slip and fall” or “trip and fall” injuries often occur.
Although navigating a slippery or uneven surface may seem like a minor inconvenience, a bad fall can cause significant injuries. Even healthy people can suffer serious, life-altering orthopedic injuries in falls. In some cases, the injuries sustained in a fall may require an extended hospital stay, surgeries, ongoing physical therapy or other costly treatments. Filing a personal injury claim with an insurance company or against a negligent landowner can help you recover these costs.
Typical slip or trip and fall claims are often not a priority category for many large personal injury law firms. However, at the Alexander Law Practice, our Jacksonville slip and fall attorneys relish taking on fall cases of all sizes. With over twenty years of personal injury experience, our attorneys have successfully recovered damages in a wide variety of fall cases. If you have been injured by a slip or trip and fall, our attorneys have the right skillset to help you get back on your feet.
How Do Slip and Fall Injuries Happen?
A slip or trip and fall accident can occur when you least expect it: at work; on a public sidewalk; in a store; or at a restaurant. The potential source of a slip or trip is almost endless. A few common causes of slip or trip and fall incidents include:
- Mopped floors without a hazard warning
- Spilled or dropped items, such as food or drinks
- Leaking plumbing or refrigeration units
- Hidden or camouflaged obstructions or protruding objects
- Sidewalk cracks or gaps
- Defective stairs, including broken railings or loose treads
- Snags or lips in rugs or carpeting
- Overcrowded aisles or debris in walkways
- Unsecured floor coverings
Trip hazards or slippery surfaces can be difficult to detect and even more difficult to anticipate. Property or business owners are responsible for maintaining reasonably safe conditions and providing adequate warning of any danger to avoid causing accidents and injuries to customers or other visitors. When a responsible party fails to take these reasonable and necessary steps and a fall with injury results, they may be held legally liable.
Proving Fault in a Slip and Fall Case
A determination of fault in a slip and fall case relies heavily on common sense. Juries determine whether to hold a property owner or business liable for the injuries caused by a fall based on whether the actions they took were “reasonable” under the circumstances.
Accordingly, to prove fault in a slip and fall case, you must be able to demonstrate one or more of the following:
- The person in control of the premises at the time of the accident caused the dangerous condition (e.g., the spill, loose carpet, broken railing, etc.).
- The person in control of the premises knew about the hazardous condition but took no action to correct it.
- The person in control of the premises should have known that the condition of the property was dangerous, because a reasonable person in their position would have recognized the problem and taken action to fix it.
- The person in control of the premises failed to warn of the dangerous condition, if the condition was not open and obvious
Some of the factors that juries consider when determining the reasonableness of a property owner’s actions include:
- Length of time: Did the dangerous condition persist long enough that a reasonable property owner should have known about it?
- Maintenance practices: Does the property owner have a documented maintenance policy or regular maintenance schedule in place?
In addition to evaluating whether the property owner or operator was at fault for the dangerous condition that caused the accident, a jury will also consider whether you bear any of your own responsibility for your injuries. Under Florida law, if your own behavior contributed to the accident or the extent of your injuries, your financial recovery will be limited by what the jury decides was your percentage of fault for the fall. For example, if your damages were $100,000.00, but the jury determined you to be 25% at fault for the fall, your award be reduced by 25% (in this case, $25,000.00) and you would therefore be entitled to recover $75,000.00.
Unsurprisingly, in most slip and fall claims, the defendant or the defendant’s insurance carrier will attempt to shift more of the fault for the accident on to you. To minimize their own liability, they may argue that at the time of the accident:
- You were trespassing in a restricted area of the property with no legitimate purpose for being there;
- You should have noticed and avoided an obviously dangerous condition;
- You failed to heed posted or verbal warnings; or
- You were distracted or otherwise behaving in a way that increased the likelihood of an accident.
Our attorneys have extensive experience countering these kinds of arguments and we help ensure that our clients recover all compensation to which they may be entitled.
A Jacksonville Slip and Fall Attorney Can Help You File a Claim
Although a slip, trip or fall claim may initially seem straightforward, it is always in your best interest to work with a knowledgeable and experienced Jacksonville slip and fall attorney to maximize your chances of success. Even if you have a good relationship with the neighbor or local business owner responsible for your injuries, an otherwise simple personal injury claim can quickly become contentious. The case rapidly moves from the hands of the sympathetic manager at the grocery store to the hands of a cynical adjuster from the insurance company.
The Alexander Law Practice has negotiated numerous slip or trip and fall claims with insurance carriers and defense counsel. Our attorneys can help you navigate the process with a goal of resolving your claim quickly and favorably. If you have been injured in a Northeast Florida slip, trip or fall accident, contact us today for a free initial consultation.