The United States suffers hundreds of thousands of deaths and injuries due to falls every year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), almost 25 percent of people over the age of 65 fall at least once each year. The leading cause of injury-related death among elderly residents in Florida is slip and fall injuries. There are nearly 70,000 Floridians hospitalized each year with fall-related injuries. Considering the risk, it’s not a bad idea for Florida residents to better understand how slip and fall injury claims work in the Sunshine State. Factors such as your underlying health, pre-existing conditions, location of the accident, and your age can all impact the value of a slip and fall injury claim.
Pinellas property owners are held responsible for ensuring reasonable measures have been taken to keep visitors safe on the premises. In addition to regular maintenance and making necessary repairs in a timely manner, they should warn guests about any possible risks on their property. If, for example, a restaurant owner provides balcony seating on the ledge, the railings on the ledge should be secured so if a customer leans on them, they will not fall. If you are injured due to another’s negligence in Pinellas, you may be entitled to compensation. The at-fault party might be liable for your or a loved one’s injuries if you or they suffered a fall in Florida. Slip-and-fall victims can turn to Herman & Wells for help filing a personal injury claim and getting fair compensation.
Florida Slip & Fall Laws
It is almost certain that Florida laws and legal rules will impact your case regardless of whether you decide to file a claim with the property owner’s insurer or file a lawsuit via a personal injury claim. The statute of limitations deadline for filing a slip and fall lawsuit, as well as “shared fault” rules that affect your right to recover compensation if you bear some blame for the accident, are the two most important aspects of these laws.
Statute of Limitations for Slip & Fall Injury Claims in Florida
Laws limiting your time to file a lawsuit in a state’s civil court system are called statutes of limitations. Unless a rare exception applies, your case will be dismissed if you miss the deadline. For more information on these exceptions in Florida, as well as how the statute of limitations applies to your case, consult an experienced personal injury attorney.
A slip and fall victim in Florida must file a lawsuit against the property owner within four years of the incident. There is a deadline for filing personal injury cases in Florida’s civil courts, which is found in Florida Statutes section 95.11(3)(a). The same four-year deadline also applies to any lawsuit you might file for property damage (perhaps you broke an expensive watch when you fell) caused by the slip and fall.
A Florida slip and fall suit, regardless of whether it involves injuries or property damage, will almost certainly turn on whether the property owner’s negligence caused the accident. You will want to give yourself plenty of time to file a slip and fall lawsuit, even if you are confident your injury claim will settle. Even if you don’t go to court, the option will give you more leverage during settlement negotiations.
Establishing Negligence & Premises Liability
When dealing with slip and fall cases, the term “reasonable” is often used in settlement negotiations and during other stages. This is because, for a property owner (or the owner’s agent or employee) to be held “negligent” in a premises liability case, they must not have acted in a reasonably cautious manner. Here are a few factors that plaintiffs should consider when assessing whether the defendant acted reasonably:
- Could a reasonable employee or owner have taken action to eliminate the hazard if the hazardous condition or obstacle existed long enough?
- Was there a policy for the owner or employee to routinely inspect the property for potential hazards? If so, was any record kept of whether the procedure had been followed right before the accident?
- Did the potential hazard have a reasonable justification? Was this justification still valid at the time of the fall or slip?
- It may have been possible to prevent the hazardous condition through preventive measures such as relocating the hazard, placing adequate warning signage in the area, or preventing access to the location.
- Was the slip and fall caused by poor lighting or limited visibility?
How Comparative Negligence Impacts Slip & Fall Claims
Prepare yourself to hear the property owner argue that you contributed to the accident. The results of this tactic could result in your slip and fall claim being significantly lowered (and even if your slip and fall claim is settled out of court, a finding of shared fault can significantly reduce your claim).
Property owners may argue, for example:
- You were in a part of the property which is not normally open to visitors.
- When you were walking, you weren’t paying attention to where you were going (you were using your phone, for example).
- You were wearing inappropriate or even unsafe footwear.
- There were cones and signs surrounding the dangerous area (reasonable precautions were taken to ensure the safety of visitors, in other words).
- The dangerous condition should have been evident to you.
A Florida slip and fall case that reaches court will follow the state’s “pure comparative negligence rule,” which will determine how much compensation you can still receive from the property owner no matter how much you contributed to the accident.
Should You Seek Medical Attention Immediately After an Unexpected Fall?
You should see a doctor if you are injured in an unexpected fall. It is best to go to an emergency room or walk-in clinic if it is an emergency. When you don’t seek medical attention right away, insurance companies (and juries) often assume you weren’t hurt all that much. Insurance companies don’t like to pay money in cases where the injured person’s first medical records differ from the claims you make in court. Juries have the same concern.
Suppose you claim in your lawsuit that you injured your back after slipping on water on a staircase. Nevertheless, the emergency room records state that you told the doctor your back has been hurting for weeks and that you haven’t done anything to aggravate it recently when you went to the emergency room an hour after the accident. With such inconsistencies, a slip and fall lawsuit would probably not be successful. Therefore, if you’ve had an accident, see a health care provider as soon as possible.
How Gaps in Treatment Affect Slip & Fall Injury Claims in Pinellas
Make sure you don’t miss any of your medical appointments. Having a pattern of missed medical appointments will make the insurer (and the jury) assume that you are not injured seriously or that you have healed since you started missing your appointments. Ensure that you attend all of your medical appointments if you have not yet fully recovered from your injuries.
What’s the Average Slip & Fall Injury Claim Worth in Pinellas?
Settlement amounts for slip and fall injuries will vary in Pinellas county. Claims usually settle between $30,000 and $40,000. However, this cannot be guaranteed. Your case will be valued based on the economic and noneconomic damages that you sustain. Serious injuries will result in a higher settlement. People with permanent disabilities have received millions of dollars in settlements.
You may not receive the compensation that will cover your medical expenses in the future if you accept a settlement offer without an attorney representing you. Once a settlement is accepted, you usually lose your legal rights against the responsible party.
When your slip and fall attorneys prove the three elements of a successful personal injury case, you can win your case. The three elements are:
- Breach of duty – In order to prove negligence, the at-fault party must have had a duty to keep you safe. For instance, to mop up a puddle of water that could be hazardous.
- Liability – To prove liability for your slip and fall injuries and damages, you’ll also need to show negligence on the part of the defendant.
- Damages – As a last step, you must prove that you suffered financial losses due to your injury, such as medical bills and lost wages.
What Factors Impact the Compensation Someone Can Receive from Slip & Fall Injury Claim?
The amount of compensation owed to someone injured in a motor vehicle accident is determined by a number of factors. These factors include consideration of medical expenses, future medical care costs, and lost income and potential future income. In addition to the plaintiff’s ability to perform work in the future, time lost in treatment for injuries is also considered.
It is in the interest of insurance companies to minimize payouts since they earn higher profits when payouts are lower. Personal injury lawyers, however, strive to negotiate the highest settlement amount possible for their clients. While insurance companies do not place much value on the intangible losses caused by the injury, an experienced personal injury lawyer will place value on pain and suffering and other losses caused by the injury.
Why You Should Talk to a Personal Injury Lawyer About Your Slip & Fall Injury Claim
There are armies of defense lawyers at the ready for companies that offer high-dollar insurance coverage to fight serious injury claims. It is not necessary to have money to speak with a personal injury lawyer about the value of your insurance claim. Most injury attorneys offer free initial consultations, and they represent injury victims on a contingency fee basis, which means they don’t get paid unless you win a settlement or court verdict.
You can probably file an injury claim on your own if you’ve fully recovered from mild injuries. If you hope to get a fair settlement for more serious injuries, you should definitely consider talking to a personal injury attorney. Claimants without counsel are routinely offered less money by insurance adjusters. In addition to representing you in court, your attorney will offer you other services. Injury lawyers are equipped with the following legal tactics:
- Calculate the assets of the at-fault party outside of the insurance policy
- Find additional insurance money that may be available from the at-fault parties
- Manage claims against your insurance company for underinsured motorists
- Reducing the medical liens on your settlement
Talk To One of Our Personal Injury Attorneys in Pinellas About Your Slip and Fall Injury Claim
Slip and fall accidents on someone else’s property can be very dangerous and lead to complex slip and fall injury claims. You may want to speak with a personal injury attorney if you or someone close to you has been injured in such an accident . An injury victim should contact an attorney as soon as possible after suffering an injury, as there are time limits for filing a personal injury lawsuit. Our personal injury attorneys at Herman & Wells will evaluate your slip and fall injury claim free of charge when you request a free consultation.
Case ResultsSee More Case Results
Injury From Slipping Off Roof
Our client fell off a slippery roof when he was told it was safe to go up to hang lights. We were able to reach a settlement for him.
Injury From Falling Down Stairs
A business did not maintain its staircase, which caused our client to trip and fall down the stairs. We sued the business for her injuries and were able to resolve her case.