If you have fallen and injured yourself on a commercial or governmental property in Boca Raton, or even at a private residence, you may be stuck wondering how to make ends meet while you’re recovering from your injuries. A slip and fall lawyer can help you determine if you’re eligible to receive compensation through a premises liability claim.
What Causes Slip and Fall Accidents?
Slip and fall accidents happen for a variety of reasons. Some of the more common ones we see include:
- Debris, liquid, or ice on the floor
- Store displays within the walkway
- Damage to floors, including torn or worn carpet or holes in tiles
- Cracked or uneven pavement, or potholes in parking lots
- Uneven stairs
- Missing or broken handrails
- Malfunctioning escalators or elevators
- Inadequate lighting
- Exposed electrical wiring
- Inadequate signage warning of danger
What Injuries Are Typically Seen in Slip and Fall Cases?
Many slip and fall injuries involve the arms, legs, ankles, and wrists. The reason for this is that those parts of the body are often tasked with absorbing the impact of the fall when one attempts to catch themselves. Here are some of the most common injuries seen in slip and fall cases:
- Head injuries: Falls are the second leading cause of traumatic brain injuries. Head injuries often have delayed symptoms and can cause life changing issues. They may result significant time away from work or even the ability to return to work or to participate in sports and hobbies previously enjoyed.
- Broken bones or sprains: Broken bones are uncomfortable and slow-healing for nearly everyone, but can be deadly for older adults. In addition to hip fractures, other broken bones that are commonly seen in slip and fall cases include the arm bones, wrists, hands, legs, ankles, feet, or vertebrae in the back or neck.
- Shoulder injuries: Generally shoulder injuries occurring during a fall happen when an individual attempts to catch themselves with their arm, dislocating the shoulder or causing damage to muscles or ligaments.
- Back, neck, and spinal cord injuries: Back, neck, and spinal cord injuries can be very serious, leading to permanent damage such as an inability to move the limbs, loss of sensory function, or even death.
Slip and Fall Accident Statistics
The National Safety Council provided the following statistics regarding slips and falls:
- In 2016, about 9.2 million people were treated in hospital emergency rooms across the nation for fall-related injuries.
- Falls are the number one cause of death for elderly people.
- Falls ranked the third highest cause of preventable deaths in the U.S. in 2016, with 21 percent of all preventable deaths being attributed to falling.
- Falls were the top cause of preventable, nonfatal injury in the U.S. in 2016, with 31 percent of all preventable, nonfatal injuries being attributed to falling.
- Older adults are particularly susceptible to falls due to weakening vision, strength, and balance.
- More than 800,000 individuals aged 65 or older are hospitalized each year due to falls. The most common injuries that they’re treated for include hip fractures and brain injuries.
Slip and fall accidents are the most common form of premises liability. Other premises liability claims include dog bites, inadequate building security, or swimming pool accidents, among others. Just as with other personal injury claims, premises liability requires the claimant to prove that negligence occurred. The injured party in this sort of suit must prove:
- The property owner owed a duty of care to the claimant.
- The property owner failed to use reasonable care in maintaining or operating the property.
- The claimant suffered an injury due to the property owner’s negligence.
Not every type of visitor is owed the same duty of care, according to Florida law. The three types of visitors who may be addressed in premises liability cases include:
- Invitee: Visitors who go to a commercial property under express or implied invitation to do business, or who—in the course of their own employment—go to a person’s home to perform a service.
- Licensee: Someone who enters or stays at the property would be a licensee. Social guests such as friends or family members, typically fall in this category. The duty of care owed to licensees by the property owner include keeping the property in safe condition by fixing known issues and/or warning the visitors of conditions that may cause them to become injured. The property owner is liable only for those issues he or she knows about.
- Trespasser: A visitor who enters the property without the property owner’s consent is known as a trespasser. The duty of care owed to trespassers is to avoid intentionally creating reckless or dangerous conditions. For example, creating a booby trap to catch trespassers is a violation of the property owner’s duty of care.
The law also provides special considerations for children in premises liability cases. The Attractive Nuisance Doctrine requires property owners to secure features on their property that may cause a child to become curious and lead them into a dangerous situation. Swimming pools, abandoned cars, old refrigerators, construction equipment, or other potentially dangerous items that a child might find fun to play in or around are all examples of attractive nuisances.
The statute of limitations for slip and fall and other premises liability cases is four years from the date of the injury.
What Kind of Damages Am I Eligible to Receive?
The kinds of damages that one may be eligible to receive in a slip and fall case include:
- Economic damages, which are specific expenses such as medical bills, lost wages, and loss of future wages and/or earning ability
- Non-economic damages, including pain and suffering
- Punitive damages, damages that are intended to punish defendants for their negligence in especially egregious cases
What If I Was Partially Responsible for My Accident?
Determining all of the individuals who are liable for your injury can be a complex undertaking. Sometimes, claimants in premises liability cases are, themselves, partially to blame. The good news is that you still may be eligible for compensation, due to a state rule called comparative negligence that comes into play in negligence cases. Comparative negligence means that, if a plaintiff is found to have been partially responsible for their own injuries, any damage award they receive will be decreased by the amount of responsibility that they bear. An example of this would be if a client was awarded $100,000 but they were found to be 20 percent responsible for their accident, the award would be reduced by 20 percent, giving them an award of $80,000.
While comparative negligence provides plaintiffs with the ability to sue for compensation even if the accident was partly their own fault, it also gives defendants a defense to use to avoid paying this compensation. Property owners, their insurance carriers, and their attorneys may try to place the blame entirely on the shoulders of the claimant by saying they were in a part of the property where they weren’t invited to be, they were distracted by a phone while walking, they were wearing inappropriate footwear, or similar accusations.
What Can I Do to Help My Own Case?
Slip and fall cases require that you prove that you were injured due to the negligence of a property owner. These are cases that rely heavily on evidence. You can help your case if you begin—preferably right away—collecting the evidence. Some items you should gather include:
- Photographs of any visible injuries, as well as the condition that caused them.
- Documentation of your expenses, including medical costs, prescriptions, and missed work due to injuries.
- Copies of all written information pertaining to your case, including diagnoses, or treatment plans.
- The name and contact information of anyone who witnessed the accident and any managers or supervisors you spoke to.
In addition to gathering these items, you can also help your case by avoiding agreeing to any settlement offered to you until after you’ve spoken to a qualified slip and fall lawyer.
Examples of Slip and Fall Cases
In September, 2018, as reported by the Miami Herald, the 28-year-old son-in-law of country music singer Alan Jackson died of severe traumatic head injuries after slipping and falling on a dock in Jupiter while trying to help a woman into a boat. He was an assistant district attorney in Nashville at the time of his death and had been married for nearly a year.
According to an article from ABC15, a woman in Palm Beach County filed suit in February, 2018, against Walmart after she slipped and fell due to ranch dressing on the floor. The woman stated that the dressing was on the floor before she came to that particular section of the store. The suit states that Walmart failed in its duty to clean up spills and that the fall caused old injuries to worsen and gave her new injuries that have prevented her from enjoying her life.
As reported by the Orlando Sentinel in October, 2017, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts settled with a woman who fell from the Pirates of the Caribbean ride in 2015. The woman stated that she slipped and fell in a boat due to water on the floor. The fall caused her to bruise the left side of her body and to twist her ankle. She was also diagnosed with complex regional pain syndrome and is now required to take injections to manage pain. She also underwent surgery in order to have a spinal cord stimulator. Her attorney stated that she faced hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of future medical treatments. She sued for more than $15,000 for damages that included mental anguish, hospital expenses, loss of future earnings, and more.
A January, 2017, article from the Miami Herald reported that former Miami Dolphins star Bob Kuechenburg was suing the Flashback Diner in Davie for a slip-and-fall accident he had there in 2015. Kuechenburg suffered a broken leg when he fell down an outside staircase at the restaurant. His attorney said that his medical costs alone ranged from $40,000 to $90,000 and that there were possible code violations pertaining to the staircase. Kuechenburg was reportedly unable to catch his fall because the handrail of the staircase was covered in Christmas garlands and a large sand ashtray used by smokers.
Talk to a Slip and Fall Lawyer in Boca Raton
Boca Raton offers ample opportunities to shop, go out to eat, take in the city’s sights, and spend time with family and friends at home or elsewhere. Unfortunately, this also means there are ample opportunities to suffer a slip and fall injury. Not all slip and fall injuries become premises liability cases, and an experienced slip and fall lawyer is a good person to ask if you are eligible to receive compensation for your injuries.
The vast majority of slip and fall cases are settled before they reach trial. We are skilled at negotiating and will fight on behalf of our clients for an offer of fair compensation. If the at-fault party’s insurance carrier does not provide a settlement offer that is fair and reflective of the expenses our client has incurred due to their injury, we are prepared and comfortable with litigating the case before a jury. The decision as to whether or not you accept a settlement that is offered is always yours to make, and we provide guidance and experience in order to help you understand both the pros and cons of that settlement so that you can make as informed of a decision as possible.
These types of cases can be lengthy and confusing and require expertise both in dealing with insurance claims as well as litigation. A slip and fall lawyer from Sibley Dolman can make the process easier by offering services that include settlement negotiations with the at-fault party’s insurance company, filing petitions, interviewing witnesses and thoroughly investigating all aspects of your case, and even representing you in court. To schedule a free consultation and case evaluation, contact us at Sibley Dolman online or call us at (561) 220-4963.
Sibley Dolman Accident Injury Lawyers, LLP
2101 NW Corporate Boulevard, Suite 410
Boca Raton, Florida 33431
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