Premises Liability Attorney
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?
Under Florida law, there really is no difference at all. The same duties and responsibilities imposed on a commercial business like Publix, apply to individual homeowners as well. The real difference lies in the ability to collect money damages if you prove negligence on the part of the property owner. It is virtually certain that if the fall happens at a large commercial property such as Publix, Albertsons, Winn Dixie, JC Penny, Bloomingdales, etc., that there will be insurance coverage available for you to collect your out of pocket expenses, lost wages, medical bills and past and future pain and suffering, depending on the extent of your injuries.
If your injury happens at a friend’s house or at a private home, the ability to recover your damages depends on whether a homeowner’s insurance policy exists on the property. Many times a landlord rents out the property to a tenant who takes over complete possession of the property from the landlord. If you get hurt in the home while a tenant is in possession of it, neither the landlord nor his insurance company will be responsible for payment to you as a result of the negligence of the tenant in failing to maintain the property in a reasonably safe condition. The landlord’s insurance will cover you if the injury is due to the negligence of the landlord – such as a dangerous condition on a portion of the property that the tenant does not control – but the landlord’s insurance will not cover you if their tenant throws a party and a large spill remains on the floor for an hour causing you to fall and fracture your hip, for example. Most tenants do not carry liability insurance.
There are also some additional coverage's to insurance policies that may apply to help cover some medical expenses for an injury on someone else’s property. You need to hire an experienced lawyer in this type of trip and fall or slip and fall case right away. Some critical decisions must be made right away, such as whether you should use your medical insurance to cover the bills, use the homeowners med-pay coverage to pay the bills or have your lawyer sign a letter of protection – which is a document that tells a doctor that if they treat you for free now, the lawyer promises to get their bill paid at the end of the case out of any settlement that is reached with the other side. This “letter of protection” is commonly used in trip and fall / slip and fall cases because many people do not have health insurance, and if the store refuses to pay the bills right away (which they usually do) you will have to pay cash for all your medical care until you are reimbursed in the form of a money settlement at the end of the case. The “letter of protection” will allow an injured party to get all the medical care they need without having to come out of pocket for any expenses while the treatment is ongoing. This can only be accomplished by having a lawyer that has relationships with medical providers that are willing to take these types of cases. Your letter of protection, without a lawyer signing it, is useless to the doctors because they know the lawyer is ethically bound not to disburse any money at the end of the case until they get paid. I can help you find a really good doctor in the area of specialty that you need, on a letter of protection, for the appropriate case.