When you visit a property that is not your own, whether it is a grocery store, a private residence, a government building, or anything else, you have every right to expect that the property is maintained in order to help you avoid an accident. Any hazards or maintenance issues must be resolved by the management team or owners, and if they are unable to resolve the issue, must provide you with an adequate warning to help you avoid an injury. This is why bright yellow “Wet Floor” signs are so ubiquitous in grocery stores, malls, and other public and semi-public commercial spaces.
If you or a loved one has been injured on someone else’s property after a slip and fall caused by a hazard or maintenance issue, contact our law firm immediately to speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer about your case. Trying to work with an insurance company on your own for a personal injury claim — especially while you are trying to recover from your injuries at the same times — can be overwhelming, and the insurance company will attempt to take advantage of your situation and work towards settling as quickly as possible, and for as little as possible.
Contact Bernheim Kelley Battista & Bliss, LLC For a Free Consultation Today
Our firm offers a free initial consultation for anyone who has been injured in a slip and fall accident. During this consultation we will be able to discuss the cause of your accident, the injuries you have sustained, the impacts these injuries have had so far on your life, and talk about how we can help you move forward with your case. Our firm has a history of success with a number of slip and fall cases, and is here to assist with the insurance claims process, settlement negotiations, and will be ready to take your case to the Florida courts if necessary.
Following a slip and fall accident, many people file a claim with the insurance company on their own. The process is simple enough, and the adjuster assigned to the case is typically friendly and helpful. These people only realize the importance of hiring slip and fall lawyers when the insurance company makes their initial offer, a one-time settlement payment (in exchange for a comprehensive waiver of any future legal action) for far less than what the victim is actually owed. The sooner you are partnered with a slip and fall lawyer, the better your chances will be of a swift resolution for a fair settlement.
What Is a Slip and Fall Accident?
A slip and fall accident is exactly what it sounds like: a victim slips on a wet, icy, or otherwise slick surface and falls, injuring themselves in the process. You may also trip over a hazard like a loose floorboard, fall down a flight of stairs due to dangerous stair treads or a broken handrail, or many other specific examples that personal injury cases may be initiated by. Florida residents do not run much risk of slipping on icy walkways, but there are plenty of opportunities to sustain slip and fall injuries from wet floors in a number of settings.
In terms of a personal injury case, a slip and fall injury must meet the same basic requirements as any other accident.
- The defendant (in this instance, the property owner) had a duty of care owed to the victim
- The property owner failed to uphold their duty of care by allowing a hazard on their property to go unaddressed or unresolved
- This failure led to an accident — in this case, the victim slipped and fell
- The accident caused measurable damages such as medical bills or pain and suffering
These four requirements can be met in innumerable situations, so trying to determine if your accident was a “slip and fall,” a “slip, trip, and fall,” or any other type of accident, the most important things we will set out to answer are the aforementioned questions. The nature of the accident is far less important than the answers to these questions, so whether or not you see an example of your unique situation mentioned on this page, we encourage you to contact us as soon as possible to have an experienced professional look over your case.
Examples of Slip and Fall Accidents
The following examples are just meant to give you a general sense of common cases, but if you slip, fall, and are injured from any sort of hazard, contact us now for your consultation.
Wet floors are one of the most common causes of slip and fall injuries, and are common in grocery stores, shopping malls, gyms, offices, and anywhere else there is public traffic. Public bathrooms often have wet floors when a cleaning crew mops, which is why we often see “wet floor” signs at the front of the restroom doors.
Loose Floorboards or Carpeting
Loose or dangerous floorboards or carpeting create a significant hazard that is likely to cause an accident, We are rarely on the lookout for a bunched carpet or protruding piece of flooring in our travels, because we naturally expect that these things will be addressed as soon as they happen.
Stairs must be constructed to adhere to specific safety and building codes, and once built must be maintained to ensure that pedestrians can use them without fear of injury. Loose or missing handrails, broken stair treads, or stairways littered with debris all create significant hazards for someone to slip, fall, and seriously hurt themselves.
Dangerous Handicap Ramps
Handicap ramps are meant to provide easy access for people who have difficulty on stairs, but these ramps require as much upkeep and maintenance as stairs do in order to ensure that visitors are safe from accidents. In fact, during inclement weather these ramps may be even more dangerous as the pedestrian needs to climb a sloped surface the entire way.
Icy Walkways and Parking Lots
Fortunately, Floridians rarely need to worry about icy walkways and parking lots, but across the northern parts of the United States, winter is a major contributor to many slip and falls.
Debris in Walkways
Debris such as trash, construction waste, or grocery products (to name a few of the many examples) can impede safe movement through walkways and aisles and is inviting a slip and fall injury. Property owners and store managers must be diligent to be sure that their properties are clear of such hazards for their visitors.
Common Slip and Fall Injuries
The following injuries are some of the most commonly reported following a slip and fall accident, but whether or not you see your own injuries listed below simply contact us for a free consultation and let’s get working on your case today.
Traumatic Brain Injuries
A traumatic brain injury, commonly referred to as a TBI, is any number of injuries that result from a trauma, or impact, to the head. These types of brain injuries can take the form of a concussion, a brain contusion (like a bruise on the brain), a penetrating injury caused by a foreign object entering the skull, or loss of oxygen to the brain. Regardless of the specific type of TBI a victim suffers, it is absolutely essential that they consult with a medical professional as soon as possible. Even low-grade concussions can have widespread impacts, and a doctor will be able to prescribe a recovery plan to reduce or eliminate long-term effects.
Spinal Cord Injuries
The spinal cord is a bundle of nerves that sends signals from the brain to the rest to the body, and is central to motor abilities, sensation, and control over bodily functions, among many other important tasks. Disruption to the spinal cord from a slip and fall can result in paralysis and a number of other serious, lasting injuries that will have a significant impact on the victim’s life, as well as their loved ones.
Fractured bones are common in slip and fall accidents, especially wrists, elbows, and forearms as the victim instinctually tries to catch their fall. However, there are many other bones that can be fractured due to an impact as well, and each comes with significant pain and suffering as well as a number of other effects that the property owner must be held accountable for.
Whiplash is most common in car accidents, and happens when the head is snapped forward, down, and back in a rapid motion that causes tears and strains to the soft tissues of the neck and shoulders. Whiplash injuries commonly recover without excessive intervention, although serious injuries may require surgery in certain instances. Soft tissue injuries can take a while to show their full extent, which is why it is so important to never sign any legal documents provided by a property owner waiving your rights or claiming that you have not suffered any injuries.
Bruising happens when surficial blood vessels are broken from an impact, and are typically left to heal without any medical intervention. However, bruising can be extremely painful, and it may be a sign of additional injuries. Do not ignore bruising — see a doctor as soon as possible to ensure that you are on the proper path towards recovery.
Proving Liability in Slip and Fall Cases
A property owner may simply claim that they were unaware of the hazard that caused the accident, but an experienced slip and fall lawyer will look past the question of whether or not they were aware, and instead argue that their duty of care included the responsibility to be aware of it. Ignorance of a hazard is not always a legitimate case for avoiding liability, and your attorney will set out to make this case if this is the defense that the property owner attempts to use.
In order to prove liability, your attorney will set out to establish the fact that the property owner had a reasonable expectation to be aware of the hazard, and that this was the duty of care they failed. Duties of care vary depending on the situation and the obligations, and a property owner or manager is expected to be aware of all potential hazards to their visitors, and must either resolve the issue or keep visitors from being exposed to the ongoing problem. Failure to do so is a breach of this duty, and they must be held accountable for this failure in the event that you are injured.
Florida uses what is known as “pure comparative fault” in personal injury cases, which allows for a victim to assume a percentage of the fault without being barred from seeking compensation altogether. Without comparative fault in place, if even 1% of the blame were to fall on the victim then they would be unable to seek compensation. Instead, the percent that the victim is liable for is simply reduced from the final award. While this rule can work in your advantage, the insurance companies will attempt to leverage comparative fault to their advantage by pinning as much blame on you as possible, therefore reducing their final financial obligation. Your slip and fall attorney will fight to ensure that you only accept the liability you are responsible for, if at all.
Determining Compensation For a Slip and Fall Accident
One of the most important issues for your slip and fall case is that of compensation: how much are you owed for the wide range of damages you have suffered? Insurance companies have spent decades honing their abilities to pay as little as possible for any given personal injury claim, and you can be certain that your claim will be treated no differently. No matter how genial the insurance adjuster on your case may be, and no matter how obvious it is that the property owner is at fault for your accident, the insurance agent will be going through a playbook of technical and administrative tools meant to close your claim while maximizing their insurance company’s bottom line. Your attorney will be taking the exact opposite approach, and will instead work to identify every damage you have suffered and calculate your compensation accordingly.
Slip and fall damages are divided into two distinct parts: economic damages and non-economic damages. Economic damages are easier to calculate and typically come with fewer disagreements between your attorney and the insurance company during settlement negotiations. Non-economic damages, however, can be complex and nebulous, and it is with these damages that the insurance company will attempt to cut as many corners as possible.
Economic damages are those damages following a slip and fall that have measurable dollar values. These damages include your medical bills and all other medical care-related costs, as well as your lost wages and other earnings-based impacts resulting from your accident and injuries. Remember that income-based damages go beyond your weekly earnings and include paid time off or sick leave you had to use in order to cover your lost wages. There are many other economic damages caused by a slip and fall accident, including any services you had to hire for tasks you would have otherwise performed on your own such as laundry, driving, or grocery shopping.
Your slip and fall attorney will have a deep understanding of all possible economic damages and will work with you to take a close look at your life in order to account for all of these damages before beginning negotiations with the insurance company.
Non-economic damages are those impacts of your slip and fall that do not come with quantifiable dollar values, and include things like the pain and suffering of your injuries as well as other emotional, psychological, and physiological impacts you experience. These include things like anxiety, depression, a decrease in your enjoyment of life, and many more. As you can imagine, it is much harder to assign a dollar value to depression, and even harder to defend as the insurance company repeatedly pushes back on paying this very real, very important damage to you. Fortunately, your slip and fall attorney will handle these negotiations while you focus on your recovery.
There are a number of accepted methods used to assign a dollar value to non-economic damages after a slip and fall, including one common approach known as the multiplier method. This requires placing the entirety of your non-economic damages on a scale, and using that number to multiply your economic damages. For example, a non-economic damage multiplier of 2.5x and economic damages of $100,000 will result in $250,000 in non-economic damages. It is important to reach an understandable and reasonable number because if you approach the negotiation table with an outrageous non-economic damage request it can do considerable damage to your credibility and your chances of a successful settlement agreement. This is why it is best to leave your slip and fall attorney to the calculations and negotiations.
Contact Bernheim Kelley Battista & Bliss, LLC To Get Started On Your Slip and Fall Accident Case Today
The sooner you schedule your free initial consultation, the sooner we can start to build your case and take over your insurance claim. Following a serious injury, it can be hard to think about taking “extra” steps like contacting an attorney instead of simply filing your insurance claim and hoping for the best, but by calling our law firm instead of initiating your claim, we can handle all of the legwork for you and leave you to stay calm and focused on your personal needs.