A slip and fall is no laughing matter. Under Florida law, who owns the property, whether a business that invites customers in, or a homeowner with guests, is responsible for maintaining safe conditions. However, the duty of care varies depending on what the property is used for, who enters the property and subsequently, slips and falls.
Walkways, stairs, and lobbies should be clear and not cluttered by cords, wires, empty boxes, and debris. Floor mats must lay flat. Handrails should be installed on stairways. And when cleaning floors, ample signage should warn pedestrians of slippery and wet surfaces, or prevent them from walking on those surfaces while wet.
A slip and fall can result in injuries that are life-changing and life-threatening, and can even result in death. If you or a family member has been injured by a slip and fall, you should consult with an experienced slip and fall accident attorney as soon as possible to make sure that you are doing everything possible to document and preserve all of your options to later recoup damages. You should consider the attorneys at the Swan Law Firm to treat you with compassion and guide you through a complex and often frustrating legal process.
Why Choose Blake Swan as Your Slip and Fall Accident Attorney
The reputation of a personal injury attorney matters, especially in the early stages of a claim for slip and fall accident injuries. Blake Swan has the credentials that impress insurance companies and defense attorneys. They know that claims filed by the Swan Law Firm are legitimate causes of action. We get results for our clients.
The Swan Law Firm is a top-ranked attorney among the National Trial attorneys Top 40, recovering over $90 million on behalf of clients from around the country.
The Swan Law Firm will fight till you get paid!
A successful personal injury attorney has a combination of skills:
- Up-to-date knowledge of Florida slip and fall accident law and civil procedure
- Compassion and dedication to our clients
- Trial experience that backs up aggressive negotiating strategies
- A reputation among insurance companies and defense counsel
- Professional, strategic, and effective
This professional attitude means that we will aggressively, and ethically, advocate for our clients so that we can recover the compensation that you deserve.
Common Causes of Slip and Fall Accidents
Property owners and business establishments have a duty to maintain their premises so that the property is safe for others. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), at least 9 million people are injured annually in slip and fall accidents. The most common causes of slip and fall accidents are:
- Wet or slippery surfaces
- Uneven flooring or ground, including potholes
- Poor lighting
- Obstacles or debris in walkways
- Broken or missing handrails
- Poorly stacked objects in a retail store
- Floor height differences without adequate warnings
- Unsafe stairs or steps
Establishing Liability in Slip and Fall Cases
Not all falls are actionable. To prove liability in a slip and fall case, there are specific elements that must be proved. Property and business owners have a duty to maintain their premises in a reasonably safe condition. That duty includes the responsibility to correct any dangerous condition. However, to be held liable, the property or business owner must know or should have known that a dangerous condition existed, and failed to correct or warn about that condition. These responsibilities are codified in Florida Premises Liability Law.
A Property Owner’s Duty of Care: A slightly different duty of care is owed to different categories of visitors: invitees, licensees, and trespassers.
Invitees are offered the highest level of care, because they are explicitly or impliedly invited to enter the property, usually a business establishment. Invitees include guests invited to a private residence. A property owner is held to the highest duty of care:
- To maintain the property in a reasonably safe condition
- To correct any dangerous condition that the property owner knew or should have known about, and
- To warn of any dangerous condition
Licensees are people who enter a property for their own benefit, not because they were actually invited. A licensee might be someone who is taking a shortcut through a property, or steps onto private property while walking a dog or taking a stroll. The duty of care is less for a licensee.
- Avoid wanton negligence or willful misconduct that might injure a licensee
- Avoid exposing the licensee to danger; and
- Warn of any condition known if it is not immediately visible
Unlike the duty owed to an invitee, a property owner does not owe a duty to actually fix unsafe conditions. In addition, there is no duty to warn unless the property owner actually knows of the unsafe condition. And lastly, the duty to warn is only if the danger is not obvious and visible.
Trespassers are the third category of people who might enter private property. The duty of care owed to trespassers is much less. An undiscovered trespasser is one who enters the property without the knowledge of the property owner. There is no duty to warn the undiscovered trespasser of any dangerous conditions. The only duty is to avoid intentional misconduct that might cause injury.
The discovered trespasser is owed a slightly higher duty of care. A discovered trespasser is someone who has been discovered on the property within 24 hours. The duty of care owed here is to avoid gross negligence and intentional misconduct, and to warn of any known dangerous conditions that are not obvious and visible.
How to Prove a Slip and Fall Accident Case: The duty of care is an important element of any slip and fall negligence case. To prove the underlying negligence needed to win a slip and fall claim, the plaintiff must establish:
- A duty of care owed to the injured party
- A breach of that duty of care
- That breach of that duty of care was the actual cause of the party’s injuries
- And documented damages
Comparative Negligence: Florida is a comparative negligence state, meaning that any recovery can be reduced by the percentage of fault of the injured plaintiff. However, so long as the plaintiff is less than 50% responsible for injuries, the lawsuit can go on.
What to Do After a Slip and Fall Accident
Although Florida has a four-year statute of limitations in slip and fall cases, with some exceptions when planning to sue a public entity or government agency, it’s in your best interests to consult with an experienced slip and fall accident attorney as soon as possible. If the slip and fall resulted in death, then a suit must be filed within two years of death in order to be a viable wrongful death action. There are things to do to preserve your options and prepare for filing suit, if negotiations do not result in a settlement of your claim.
It is important to seek a full medical diagnosis and treatment, and fully document those medical visits. Taking care of yourself is a first step towards recovery. Next evidence needs to be gathered, photographs of existing conditions taken, and witnesses identified and interviewed to preserve memories. And the event of the accident needs to be reported to the property owner. This puts the property owner on notice of a dangerous condition, a help to anyone else who might be injured later. And most importantly, you should seek a free consultation with an experienced slip and fall accident attorney, like the attorneys at the Swan Law Firm.
How Blake Swan Can Help You
Every potential client who approaches the Swan Law Firm for a free consultation will be interviewed to determine the viability of your claim. This process involves reviewing the evidence, medical records, and perhaps conducting a brief investigation to locate the responsible parties and their financial assets, including insurance policies, and any prior claims based on dangerous property conditions.
Once a case is taken, and a retainer agreement drafted and signed, the Swan Law Firm will contact the insurance carriers, if any, to feel out whether negotiation or litigation is the best course of action for you. If the insurance carrier has undervalued the damage, and not offered an appropriate pre-filing settlement, then the Swan Law Firm will file suit on your behalf. Our goal is to maximize your recovery in the shortest period of time. However, not all cases can be settled without a trial. Especially complicated or serious slip and fall accident cases involving multiple defendants require a trial before a jury. And Blake Swan and his team have the experience and fight you want in a trial attorney.
We Fight Until You Get Paid
At the Swan Law Firm, we will guide you through the legal process and aggressively pursue your claim, maintaining integrity and offering you compassion and understanding during this difficult time. We are committed to providing our clients with legal representation based on your needs and our professionalism. Your case will begin with a Free Consultation.
We are standing by ready to assist you 24/7. Call us now at Swan Law Firm 281-645-5000 or fill out the contact form below to schedule your free consultation.
Our Florida office is located at:
565 N Egret Bay Blvd
League City, TX, 77573
Our telephone number is: 281-645-5000
Or email Blake Swan at: email@example.com
Frequently Asked Questions
What types of compensation can I seek for injuries sustained in a slip and fall accident? A successful negotiation or judgment in a slip and fall accident case can include compensation for all medical expenses, including hospital stays, rehabilitation services, and medication; lost wages and future income; pain and suffering; diminished quality of life; and punitive damages, in the event of malicious or willful negligence.
How long do I have to file a slip and fall accident claim in Palm Beach Gardens? The statute of limitations for a slip and fall accident case is ordinarily four years. However, if the slip and fall resulted in death, then any action must be filed within two years of the injured person’s passing.
Can I still pursue a claim if I was partially at fault for the slip and fall accident? Yes, Florida is a comparative negligence state. Therefore, if you are partially responsible for your own injuries, any recovery will be reduced by the percentage of harm caused by your fault.