Slip and Fall Injury Lawyer
What do I do if I have just been involved in a trip and fall or a slip and fall incident in the mall, at a restaurant, or just food shopping at my local Publix or Winn Dixie?
Business owners have a responsibility to maintain their property in a safe condition and to conduct reasonable inspections and take reasonable precautions to protect people that enter onto their property. If they fail to do so, and you are injured as a result, you may have a premises liability claim. Whether you slipped and fell on a wet floor or had an improperly stocked item fall on your head while shopping, the store may be responsible for your medical bills as well as your pain and suffering.
The most common injury on someone else’s property is due to a slip and fall, a trip and fall or some other type of fall down claim. For these types of cases there are several things that should be done. First of all, these are some of the most difficult cases in Florida to prove. It will require an experienced team of professionals, including the right lawyer and engineering professionals, who can examine the location of your fall to determine if a violation of building codes exists, or if there was some other negligent condition that caused or contributed to your fall. Remember: just because you fell on someone else’s property doesn’t mean that they are automatically responsible for paying your medical bills and other expenses. You must prove that they did something wrong.
In fact, in April 2010, the Governor of Florida signed a bill into law that changed the way lawyers handle certain types of slip and fall / fall down cases. If the fall was due to a foreign substance on the floor, the person who fell now has the burden of proving that the foreign substance was there for a long enough period of time that the property owner knew or should have known it was there. This becomes a difficult burden to prove if the item is water that could have just been spilled seconds before you arrived at that location.
In these and other difficult situations, it is necessary to hire an experienced lawyer who has actually settled and gone through a jury trial on a premises liability case such as a slip and fall or a fall down of any kind. I have personally handled hundreds of these cases over the years and have actually recovered hundreds of thousands of dollars in jury verdicts on fall down cases. There are fewer lawyers that actually go to trial and win these cases than you think. Most cases settle for less than their full value because the lawyer either does not want to go to trial, or does not have the ability to go through a jury trial to obtain a full verdict on your behalf.
Some of the scenarios which could give rise to a slip and fall/fall down premises liability claim include the following:
a. Rugs/Mats: these cases arise when a mat or rug is not in its proper location, or when the rugs/mats that are in active use become tangled, folded over or otherwise create a tripping hazard.
b. Unleveled / uneven sidewalks or walkways: this is a
common cause of falls and is an area that
can easily be tested and documented by professional witnesses. Building codes often govern this area. Sometimes locating the correct party is difficult. A walkway in a common area may cause a claim to be brought, not
just against the property owner, but against the builder or possibly the city, state or county government where the fall occurred as well.
c. Foreign substances on the floor: a liquid spill, a slow leak from a container, a leak from a freezer, water tracked into a store on a rainy day, etc. In these situations, you need an experienced lawyer who recognizes the type of case and understands that it is you, the person that fell, that has to prove how long the item was on the floor. This is a difficult task but one which I have been handling for over twenty years. You should avoid giving details of the incident – other than reporting the injury – until you hire a lawyer and have that lawyer with you when you give a statement to anyone.
d. Pot Holes: These types of falls are tricky under Florida Law because you have the burden of watching where you are walking and a condition that is “open and obvious” could prevent you from obtaining any recovery. You need to talk to an experienced lawyer right after such a fall, before you give a statement, because you need to establish what conditions or circumstances prevented you from observing what may be considered to be an open and obvious condition such as a pot hole, a large crack in a sidewalk, etc.
e. Rails and Ramps: sometimes a handrail is not
secured to the wall properly and is so loose that it causes or
contributes to a fall – or at least doesn’t stop a preventable fall from occurring. Sometimes, the rail is missing and in violation of building codes. Ramps are also required to be at a certain pitch, and are required to comply with building codes and other specifications governing construction of a ramp or rail. Hiring a professional who can conduct tests to determine conditions of the rails or ramps is necessary to explore all possible code violations in your case.
f. Slippery floors: slipping and falling can be caused by slippery floors without foreign substances. This can be caused by excessive wax – typically in a large food store like Publix or Winn-Dixie – where they regularly hire a cleaning company to wax their floors. If the fall was on a slippery floor, you should call me right away because I can hire a professional who can perform a simple test to determine the slipperiness of the floor. This test is called a slip friction coefficient test. It involves sliding a device across the floor which registers a reading of “slipperiness.” If you hire the right lawyer, these tests will be performed for your case.
With a Slip and Fall or Trip and Fall case, or if you get injured on
someone else’s property,
there are a few things you should know before you call a lawyer:
1.) Immediately determine what caused you to fall and report the
accident to premises management and/or their security
professionals. If you do not know what caused you to fall, chances are
you will not be able to pursue a claim.
2.) Ask for a copy of their accident report. If they refuse, make a note of who took the report. Do not sign an accident report unless they agree to provide you with a copy.
3.) You will need to document your injuries; so ask management to call EMS or an ambulance.
4.) Once you have left the premises, do not speak to anyone before you consult an attorney. Do not allow your
conversations to be tape-recorded.
5.) Keep your shoes and clothing as evidence.
6.) Offer the name and telephone number of your attorney to the establishment or facility, as well as anyone else who calls you later on about your incident.
7.) Contact our office as soon as possible. The call is free, and there are no out-of-pocket expenses if you choose to have us represent you.
8.) If needed, a doctor will be recommended who will treat you and bill your insurance company or wait to get paid at the conclusion of the case.
Premises Liability / Falls
Q - What do I do if I have just been involved in a trip and fall or a slip and fall incident in the mall, at a restaurant, or just food shopping at my local Publix or Winn Dixie? Q - What is the difference if my slip and fall incident happens at a Publix food store or at a friend’s house; in either case, who will pay my medical bills? Q - If I do file a lawsuit for a slip and fall, or some other type of injury on someone else’s property, what kind of defenses can they raise? Q - What do I do if I was injured at a friend’s house or a relative’s house?