Property owners have a legal obligation to provide for the reasonable safety of people who might visit their premises. The property owner, or the manager or staff of a commercial property, is expected to ensure the premises is free of safety hazards or that existing hazards are marked in a manner that warns people of the existence of that danger. When a property owner or their staff is negligent in removing or warning about safety hazards, people can get hurt. And when they are hurt, they can seek compensation. If you or a loved one has been injured or disabled due to dangerous conditions on public or private property, you need to speak with the dedicated law firm of Perry & Young with over 70 years of combined experience that takes great pride in protecting your rights. People who suffer from a premise’s liability accident in Florida may be inexperienced in what qualifies for a case. Many people who slip and fall in public suffer from the immediate embarrassment factor, however, the majority of the time it is not your fault, but the fault of the negligent owner or business. In Florida, many of the personal injury lawsuits stem from dangerous conditions.
Plaintiffs who prevail in their slip and fall lawsuits may be awarded compensatory damages to pay for their:
• medical bills, including payment for future treatments
• lost wages, of which include unrealized future earnings
• Funeral and burial expenses if you lost a loved one in a fatal fall
• pain and suffering including loss of consortium or companionship
• Punitive damages in cases involving extreme misconduct
When the court finds that the defendant’s behavior was malicious or otherwise shocking, the defendant may have to pay punitive damages as well to the plaintiff. Depending on the case, punitive damages can amount to three times or more than the compensatory damages. Even falling victims who were partially to blame for their injuries may still be able to win a personal injury lawsuit. Under Florida Negligence law, property owners or tenants owe accident victims damages whenever they were at least 50% at fault. The law considers this as Comparative Negligence of which basically states that when both parties are at least somewhat at fault the jury allocates fault, usually as a percentage (for example, a jury might find that the plaintiff was 30% at fault and the defendant was 70% at fault). Then each pays their share of the other’s damages (in the above example, the plaintiff pays 30% of the defendant’s damages, and the defendant pays 70% of the plaintiff’s damages).
We now need to bring to your attention the burden of proof for a slip and fall case. For many victims, a slip-and-fall case may seem clear cut. However, there are certain elements that must be established in order for a personal injury claim to be successful, and evidence of what caused your fall can disappear quickly. Our lawyers will need to be able to show that:
• You were on the premises legally (i.e., you were not trespassing).
• A hazardous condition on the premises caused your fall.
• The property owner knew about or should have known about the hazardous condition and failed to mitigate its danger in a timely manner, either through cleanup, repair, or an adequate warning.
• The existence of the hazard was not so obvious that a reasonable person would have realized that he or she should steer clear.
While slip-and-falls are quite common and may be considered to some as a facet of slapstick humor, real slip-and-falls are no joke. They can be the cause of broken bones, soft tissue damage, and a variety of other potential injuries. Some examples of this could be wet floors, snow or ice-covered sidewalks, potholes, clutter, trash, or debris, damaged or lose flooring, damaged or loose paving stones or cement, poor lighting, or damaged or missing handrails. Many of the times a slip-and-fall accident claims hinge on what is “reasonable” and “timely”. A particularly good example of this is, store owners must be allowed a reasonable amount of time to realize a hazard exists and then to clean it up, such as a bottle of ketchup or salad dressing that fell from a shelf. Another example, a retail store, parking lot, sidewalks at a condo complex the owner is allotted a reasonable amount of time after a snow or freezing rain stops falling to de-ice or shovel the area in question. With this being said it would not be reasonable to make a claim if you decided to run down a potentially icy sidewalk or across a parking lot, into a building where floors may be wet from tracked-in rain. In addition, the property owner’s insurance may be able to shift the blame or partial blame if you were texting or looking at social media on your phone when the fall occurred. This would be what is called “contributory negligence” of which allows the compensation to be reduced depending on the role the victim played in the accident.
It goes without saying the sole purpose of the property owner, through their insurance company will almost always challenge your claim for compensation and that is why it is crucial to contact a law firm that has attorneys that specialize and have decades of experience in premises liability such as Perry & Young. We will be able to obtain several keys of evidence that maybe difficult for you to get if you were to take the case on independently such as:
• The ability to gather all the evidence about your accident. It is imperative to secure evidence for it is destroyed or “lost”, or before a property owner repairs the hazard that caused your accident.
• Surveillance camera footage in this day and time is usually everywhere we go when it comes to commercial or public property. This footage can help to illustrate how long the hazard existed and how the negligent party took to deal with it or neglected it.
• Medical and financial experts work to make projections for anticipated medical needs and any future income losses due to long-term injuries or disabilities in addition to all the costs and losses you have already incurred. These professionals work with our attorneys to examine your records and provide detailed reports to substantiate your cost and losses.
• Obtain statements from any witnesses, including anyone who was with you when you fell, as well as friends, and family that have witnessed the struggles you have endured due to the accident. This would include the progress and the setbacks in your recovery, any family events, or gatherings you had to miss due to your injuries.
If you have been hurt in a slip-and-fall or trip-and-fall accident, schedule a consultation with Perry & Young at no cost to you to discuss your options for pursuing the compensation you need to recover call 850-215-7777 or fill out our intake form. The worst thing you can do is nothing at all.