Proving Negligence after a Slip and Fall
According to the National Safety Council, an estimated 9 million individuals in the United States go to the emergency room every year due to injuries they suffered from slip and fall accidents. Almost everyone has fallen down at some point—and most of us have taken a spill many times throughout our lives. While some falls are simply due to clumsiness, others are caused by slippery floors, tripping over something, or by other dangerous conditions on someone else’s property. These causes are known as hazards, and they can inflict much more damage than most people think.
Following a fall, many victims suffered scraped knees, bruises, or other minor injuries that don’t require medical care. Often, embarrassment is the main result of a slip and fall. However, some slip and fall accidents result in serious injuries that can have a severe effect on a victim’s life. If you have suffered injury after a slip and fall and are starting to incur medical bills and other losses because the property owner’s negligence, you deserve to be fairly compensated.
Negligent Acts of Property Owners
A premises liability claim arises when a property owner is negligent and injury to another person results. Property owners have the legal duty to keep their premises in a reasonably safe condition to avoid injuries to visitors. This duty exists for store owners, other types of business owners, schools, government entities, and residential property owners. Some examples of common premises liability claims involve swimming pool accidents, falls down stairs, exposure to toxic chemicals, and more. The most common premises liability claim is a slip and fall accident.
Slip and falls often arise from negligent conditions including the following:
- Failure to clean up liquid spills
- Not having adequate lighting
- Having exposed wires on the floor
- Slippery flooring surfaces
- Cracks or holes in flooring
- Debris or objects in walkways
- Uneven floors
- Tears or pulls in carpet
In addition to having the responsibility to repair potentially hazardous conditions, a property owner also has a duty to warn visitors or customers of possibly dangerous hazards. For example, if a grocery store employee cleans up a spill with water, they must also post a sign warning customers of the possibly wet and slippery area until it dries. If they fail to post an appropriate warning sign and someone falls and suffers injury, the store should be held liable for all injury-related losses.
Slip And Fall Negligence
Thousands of people are injured each year from slip and fall accidents. Often times, these incidents lead to serious injuries that can cost thousands of dollars, require many months or years to heal, and cause untold pain. As if these were not enough problems, it can also be difficult to prove who is at fault for a slip and fall injury. That’s why it is imperative to understand certain concepts that pertain to the negligence of slip and fall accidents.
When considering negligence in a slip and fall case, one must consider if the owner of a property acted as a reasonable, sensible person would have in a similar situation. Property owners have a legal duty of care to ensure that their property is reasonably safe and that hazards are prevented or remedied. This includes things like:
- Length of Time – Did the owner have plenty of time to know about and resolve the hazard that caused the fall?
- Reasonableness of Hazard – Did something reasonable create the hazard, like a rain storm in a parking lot?
- Acting Appropriately – Did the owner act to fix the hazard and do they have a routine they follow to prevent and assess incidents?
- Reasonable Prevention – Could the owner have reasonably prevented the incident, for example by installing a light or by putting up a sign?
This is not the end of it though because there are different duties for different people in slip and fall negligence cases. That’s because not everyone who comes on to a property has been invited. Florida law defines this portion of liability by classifying victims of slip and falls into three categories: invitee, licensee, or trespasser.
An invitee is the most obvious of the three classifications, though it’s not necessarily cut and dry. There are two subcategories within invitee; they are public invitee and business invitee.
A public invitee is someone who is invited on to a piece of public land or private property designed for public use. For example, a person in a park would be a public invitee. Likewise, a person in a private hospital would still be a public invitee because the place is open to serve the public.
A business invitee is probably the more common type of victim in slip and fall cases since most incidents occur on business property. These are people who are invited to enter a property or remain on site for a purpose connected to the act of business. This includes going to a store, visiting a theme park, or staying in a hotel.
Invitees, either public or business, are granted the greatest degree of protection by Florida law. This is because states consider those who invite someone onto their property to have the greatest duty to care for their invitees. This duty includes correcting issues, warning of hazards, and maintaining a property in safe conditions. In Florida, this could also mean taking reasonable steps to prevent crimes to the invitee on the property.
A licensee is a person who was not expressly invited or has no business with the property owner, but who is somehow on the premises. This category, too, is often divided into two subcategories: licensee by invitation and uninvited licensee.
An example of a licensee by invitation may be someone’s plusone at a friend’s party. For this group of people, an owner has the same responsibility as if the person were an invitee.
An uninvited licensee, for example teenagers partying on piece of private property in the woods, does not have the same protections. The only duty an owner has to uninvited licensees is to not willfully or wantonly injure them. This includes things like setting dangerous traps.
A trespasser is a person who enters a property or premises without invitation or license, and intrudes for some purpose that only benefits the trespasser. This may include anything from loiterers to robbers. The duty of care for these people is the same as the uninvited licensee above.
Common Slip and Fall Injuries
Every slip and fall case is different and determining whether negligence played a role in causing the accident depends closely on the specific facts of your particular case. An experienced Florida slip and fall attorney can evaluate your case and advise you on your chances of recovery and can help you collect adequate evidence to prove your claim.
Slip and fall accident victims can sustain a wide variety of injuries, which commonly include the following:
- Broken Bones
- Traumatic Brain Injuries
- Spinal Cord Injuries
- Other Soft Tissue Injuries
Older adults are particularly at risk for broken hips and similar injuries that can significantly affect their lives. Some older adults who slip and fall require long-term rehabilitative care and may require assisted living for the rest of their lives. Even if the injuries are not permanent, other slip and fall victims may require extensive medical treatment and may not be able to work for some time.
Contact an experienced personal injury lawyer at the Dolman Law Group today
If you are involved in a slip and fall accident because a property owner was negligent, you should not delay in calling an attorney at the Clearwater, Florida office of the Dolman Law Group as soon as possible. We strive to help injured victims receive just compensation, so call today at 727-451-6900 for a free consultation.