One of the first steps you should take after you sustain a slip and fall injury is to file a personal injury claim or lawsuit for damages against the at-fault party. The at-fault party in a Clearwater slip and fall accident is usually the owner or occupier of the property where the accident occurred. Property owners are required to maintain insurance coverage on their premises. Therefore, if you file a claim or lawsuit against the property owner, it is actually the property’s owner’s insurance company that you will be dealing with. Similarly, the insurance company pulls the strings when it comes to making settlement offers and negotiating settlements.
Slip and fall accidents are a cause of serious injury in the State of Florida, including head and back injuries, fractures, and soft tissue injuries. When these injuries occur, accident victims may have to undergo long periods of medical treatment, physical therapy, and vocational rehabilitation—all of which is costly.
Moreover, slip-and-fall cases can sometimes be difficult to prove because insurance companies like to place some or all of the blame on the injured accident victim. The Clearwater slip and fall accident attorneys at Dolman Law Group are fully prepared to litigate your case through the Florida court system and pursue monetary damages on your behalf.
Who Can You File a Claim Against?
Slip and falls come under the umbrella of premises liability cases. As such, the laws of negligence apply. The first question in a Clearwater slip and fall accident case is who you should file the claim against. You may be able to file a personal injury claim against many potential defendants in a slip and fall accident case, including the owner of the property where the fall occurred, the property manager, the HOA, the rental company, or the municipality that owns or has an ownership interest in the property. Property owners have a duty to ensure that their premises are kept in a reasonably safe condition that is free from known hazards and defects. When property owners fail to have the proper safety measures in place, they can be liable for accidents and injuries which occur on the property.
What Happens After the Claim Is Filed?
Once a claim has been filed, the slip-and-fall accident victim’s attorney usually files a demand package. The demand package typically includes a cover letter which sets forth:
- The circumstances of the slip-and-fall accident and how it took place
- The injuries sustained in the accident
- A summary of the medical treatment received following the accident
- A list of all medical bills sustained as a result of the accident
- A monetary demand for settlement
The monetary demand for settlement depends upon the amount of insurance coverage available to satisfy the claim, as well as the cost of medical treatment, the injuries sustained, and the damages suffered. Along with a demand letter, the attorney will include copies of all of the pertinent medical records and bills.
Once the insurance company adjuster receives a copy of the demand package, the adjuster may offer a certain amount of money to settle the slip and fall claim. In some slip and fall cases, the insurance company will try and limit its liability exposure to the injured accident victim—or even deny liability altogether.
The insurance company may allege that the injured accident victim caused or contributed to the slip and fall accident by failing to look at the ground, by wearing shoes that have a worn tread, or by not taking into account “wet floor” or similar warning signs. Similarly, the insurance company may allege that the property owner did not have enough time to correct the property defect before the slip and fall accident occurred.
A Clearwater slip and fall accident lawyer may be able to challenge any liability disputes raised by the insurance company.
Filing a Lawsuit if the Insurance Claim Does Not Settle
After several rounds of negotiations with the insurance company’s adjuster, the claim may ultimately settle. If this happens, the case is over, no lawsuit will be filed, and there will be no trial. However, if the parties cannot reach a settlement, then a lawsuit will be filed against any and all responsible parties in the case. If a lawsuit is filed, this does not automatically guarantee that your case will go to trial. Rather, filing a lawsuit merely begins the litigation process in a slip and fall accident case. Even after a lawsuit is filed, settlement negotiations can—and often do—continue.
In any slip and fall premises liability case, the injured accident victim must still prove the standard elements of negligence, including duty, breach, causation, and damages. A premises owner or occupier generally owes a duty of care to visitors on the property. A business invitee, such as a store customer, who is on the premises for the purpose of benefiting the owner, is typically owed the highest duty of a care.
In order for an injured slip and fall accident victim to recover damages, the premises owner must act negligently. For example, the property owner may wait too long to make repairs, fail to clean the premises, or not complete the maintenance work necessary to keep the property safe. The accident victim must also be able to show that the premises owner’s breach of the duty of care brought about the injuries and damages. Damages may include monetary compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, emotional distress, or permanency.
Call a Clearwater Slip and Fall Injury Lawyer Today
Slip and fall accidents can bring about serious injuries which are worthy of monetary compensation. Not only may you be compensated for your medical bills, but you may also be eligible to recover compensation for all of your pain, suffering, aggravation, and loss of enjoyment of life due to your injuries. The Florida slip and fall injury lawyers at Dolman Law Group will begin the process by filing an insurance claim for coverage.