Most people assume that Florida slip-and-fall lawsuits are fairly straightforward. However, as our Palm Beach injury lawyers can explain, the truth of the matter is that South Florida slip-and-fall claims, which involve an area of law called premises liability, can quickly become quite complicated.
Some of the factors that are going to come into play as to how thorny a case can get:
- How long did the hazard existed in the area where you fell (or how long you can prove it was there)?
- Was the hazard something that occurred regularly at that location?
- Who was responsible for maintaining safe walking surfaces at that location? (Were there multiple responsible parties?)
- How open/obvious was the hazard that caused the fall?
- What was your purpose on site? (Were you a business invitee? A social invitee? A trespasser? All of this will matter in a Florida premises liability claim.)
- How badly were you hurt? Did you incur medical bills? Did the injury leave you unable to work for a time?
All of this is going to factor into the viability and value of your Florida slip-and-fall claim and how much it’s worth. This is why you’ll want to discuss your case with an injury lawyer.
That said, here are five questions that we’re frequently asked when approached about a Palm Beach slip-and-fall injury claim:
1. What Exactly is a Slip-and-Fall Lawsuit?
For starters, they aren’t always lawsuits. A person can file a slip-and-fall injury claim with a responsible party/their insurer without taking the matter to court. Pursuing litigation is really a last resort, and typically only for cases that involve serious injuries, such as fractures, head injuries, spinal injuries, or back injuries.
If you do file a lawsuit, it is because the insurer rejected a demand for reasonable compensation for the claim.
Slip-and-fall accidents, sometimes referred to as “slip, trip, and fall” accidents, are among the most common type of accidents that occur on others’ property. Per F.S. 768.0755 , it’s defined as when a person slips on a transitory foreign substance on the floor. They stem from conditions that are unsafe and that the property owner/controller had a responsibility to address by fixing it or at least warning about it. If you slipped and fell in a store or amusement park or common area of a condominium complex and there was no warning sign posted, you may have grounds to file a premises liability claim for slip-and-fall injuries.
2. Who’s Responsible for My Injuries in a Slip-and-Fall Cases?
This will vary depending on the individual facts of the case. Slip and fall accidents occur because of the negligence of the party(ies) who owned or controlled the property. This can be both private and public property. Most often, those who can be held liable are the property owner or property manager. Other potential defendants include the maintenance/cleaning company or commercial renter. Your Palm Beach personal injury lawyer will need to thoroughly investigate the circumstances of your fall before giving you an answer.
3. How Long Do I Have to File a Slip-and-Fall Injury Claim?
You do not have an unlimited amount of time in which to file. There is a deadline, which in legal terms is referred to as the statute of limitations. Per F.S. 95.11, the statute of limitations on personal injury cases is four years from the date of the accident. In cases of wrongful death, one has just two years to file. There may be a few exceptions, particularly if one’s injuries weren’t immediately apparent or symptomatic until weeks or months after the fall. That may not necessarily be enough to create a later “cause of action” (time when the statute of limitations clock starts ticking), so it’s best as soon as you realize you’re injured to reach out to a civil trial lawyer as soon as possible. It’s also wise to be seen by a medical professional as soon as possible after the accident, even if you don’t think you were seriously hurt. A medical exam may catch an injury you weren’t even aware of that will worsen over time. The sooner you can undergo a medical examination after an accident, the easier it will be to causally link your injuries to the fall.
4. How Serious Does My Injury Need to be to File a Claim for Slip-and-Fall?
One can file a claim for damages in cases of minor injuries, but the question will be how far do you want to go to pursue it. Unlike with Florida car accidents under the no-fault law, there is no clear rule for how serious your injuries need to be in order to pursue a claim. In general, the more serious the injuries and the more it’s impacted your daily life and finances, the harder you’ll want to push back on any claim rejections or low-ball settlement offers from defendants. Keep in mind too that any Palm Beach personal injury lawyer you hire to represent you in such a claim is going to do so on what’s called a contingency fee basis. That means they do not get paid attorney’s fees unless or until you win. As such, they’re unlikely to take on a case that is weak and/or very low value. In general, the value of the case is going to rely heavily on things like:
- What the injury has cost you in medical bills.
- How much work you’ve had to miss (lost wages).
- The extent to which the fall-related injury has impacted your ability to take care of yourself and engage in your daily life, relationships, and activities you enjoy.
5. What Do I Have to Prove in a Slip-and-Fall Injury Case?
In Florida slip-and-fall injury cases, it is the plaintiff who bears the proof burden. To prevail, you’ll have to prove the defendant failed in their duty of care to keep the property reasonably safe for guests. You’ll also have to show the defendant knew about the dangerous condition or should have known about it, either because it occurred with regularity or had existed a sufficient length of time it would have been discovered had the defendant been using reasonable care. This is a simplification, of course. There may be other details that become pertinent in your case.
If you’ve been injured in a Palm Beach slip-and-fall accident, our dedicated, experienced injury lawyers will provide you with a thorough and frank assessment of the viability and value of your case. Initial consultations are free of charge.
Contact the South Florida personal injury attorneys at Halberg & Fogg PLLC by calling toll-free at 1-877-425-2374. Serving West Palm Beach, Miami, Tampa, Orlando and Fort Myers/ Naples. There is no fee unless you win.
Defenses in Slip and Fall Cases, Justia
More Blog Entries:
Palm Beach Personal Injury Lawsuit: Better to Settle or Go to Court? Sept. 29, 2021, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blog