A slip and fall accident can leave you with serious injuries, excessive medical bills, and the inability to work. If your slip and fall occurred due to a hazard that the property’s owner or management knew about and failed to correct, you may be able to pursue legal action against that person or business. To prove your case and obtain compensation for your injuries, you must first prove legal liability and negligence.
Do not go through this process alone. A slip and fall lawyer in Fort Lauderdale can help.
What are some of the most common slip and fall accidents? Who is liable?
Some of the most common scenarios that lead to slip and fall accidents are:
- Uneven walking surfaces, such as a broken sidewalk
- Unmarked obstacles, such as a step, curb, or extension cord
- Wet, slippery surfaces, such as a spill or water leak
- Improperly maintained property, such as potholes in a parking lot
- Steps or stairs without handrails
Although these are some of the most common situations than can lead to slips and falls, almost any hazardous condition can cause an accident of this nature. Victims may suffer broken bones, dislocated joints, traumatic brain injury, or neck, back, or spinal cord injury.
Your liable party is whoever was in charge of maintaining the property. In most cases, this will be the property owner or manager.
When is the property owner liable?
Under the Florida premises liability law, property owners must maintain their property in a way that is reasonably safe and free of hazards or danger for those who visit. This means that, if the property owner or manager knows — or should have known — about a potentially unsafe situation, they must take quick action to correct it.
If the owner or manager is unable to correct the problem reasonably quickly, he must do something to bring it to the attention to any visitors who might injure themselves. For example, he could rope the area off or place prominent signage in such a way that you can avoid the danger. If he failed to meet these standards, and someone gets hurt as a result, he may be liable for those injuries.
It is important to note that the property owner is only liable if the injured party was an invitee (e.g., customer, contractor working on the property) or licensee (e.g., social guest, someone who came in to use the restroom).
When might a property owner not be liable?
A property owner has no duty of care to a trespasser. This means that if the property owner did not protect a trespasser from a known hazard, he will likely not be liable. This does not mean that a property owner can intentionally cause injury to a trespasser however.
The property owner might also not be liable if you caused your injury. If you were running, engaging in horseplay, or texting as you walked, the court could find that you were at least partially responsible for the incident. Likewise, if you ignored warning signs or you entered an area that was clearly denoted as off-limits, the property owner might be able to deflect liability.
How to I prove the property owner was negligent?
Once you have determined that the property owner is your liable party, you must establish he was negligent. The four elements of negligence that you and your attorney must demonstrate in a slip and fall accident are:
- Duty of care: The property owner had a duty to you to maintain the premises free of dangers or hazards that could cause harm.
- Breach of duty: The owner breached his duty of care and allowed a potentially hazardous condition to exist on the premises.
- Causation: That hazard or condition was the cause of your slip and fall and, subsequently, the cause of your injuries.
- Damages: You sustained measurable damages (e.g., medical bills, lost wages, etc.).
The biggest challenge in proving negligence in a slip and fall case is demonstrating that the property owner either knew or should have known about the condition.
The standard for whether the owner should have known, the reasonable person standard, looks at whether most owners (or managers, if applicable) would have known about the problem and taken steps to correct it.
What should I do if I was hurt in a slip and fall?
If you slip and fall in a public place, you should seek immediate medical attention. Injuries sustained in this way may not be obvious immediately. Alert the property owner or manager about the incident and request his name and contact information.
Talk to any witnesses that may have been present, make note of their names and contact information and ask if they have any photos or videos of the incident.
As soon as possible, contact a slip and fall lawyer in Fort Lauderdale to assist you in requesting compensation for your injuries. Because businesses and insurance companies believe that many slip and fall claims are false or exaggerated, they will often try to discourage you by refusing to negotiate a settlement. Having a lawyer to assist you can help demonstrate the sincerity of your claim.
Your attorney will also be better equipped to obtain to important evidence for your case, such as video surveillance footage, employee statements, maintenance records, or existing company safety policies.
A Fort Lauderdale slip and fall lawyer will also have access to expert witnesses who can evaluate the scene of your accident to determine if other factors — inadequate lighting, poor signage, etc. — may have contributed to the hazard.
How do I find a slip and fall lawyer in Fort Lauderdale?
Choosing the right personal injury lawyer can make a difference in the outcome of your case. A local lawyer that handles slip and fall cases can help explain your rights under the law and provide the guidance and support to help you through this difficult time.
In Fort Lauderdale, the Law Firm of Anidjar & Levine offers complimentary consultations and case reviews. Contact us today to speak with one of our Fort Lauderdale slip and fall accident lawyers: 800-747-3733.