Bradenton Slip and Fall Lawyer

March 1, 2023 | Attorney, Matthew Dolman

The term “slip and fall” describes a type of personal injury claim potentially available to Bradenton residents. Despite the deceptively comical association with a banana peel, slip and fall accidents often result in serious head trauma, spinal cord damage, and fractures. Whether you tripped, suddenly dropped, or slipped, you may be entitled to compensation for negligently caused injuries. Legal professionals refer to slip and fall claims as premises liability cases.

Premises liability is a complex area of law, despite falling accidents being a leading cause of personal injuries. At the Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, our experienced slip and fall lawyers know how even seemingly minor accidents can cause life-changing harm. Contact our Bradenton Slip and Fall Lawyers today for a free slip and fall case analysis.

Overview of Bradenton Premises Liability Law

Not every fall entitles Bradenton residents to legal compensation. Instead, the fall must have resulted from the property owner's negligence.

Recovering compensation for negligently caused injuries requires proof that:

  • The proprietor of the property owed the claimant a legal duty
  • The owner/controller of the property failed in that duty
  • The claimant fell as a result of this failure
  • The fall caused new injuries or exacerbated old injuries
Bradenton Slip and Fall Attorney

It does not matter if the plaintiff sustained a severe injury from a seemingly minor fall. A mere stumble may result in an elderly claimant's broken hip or painful disc herniations. Parties found to have negligently caused a fall are generally responsible for any resulting damage.

Slip and fall cases hinge on whether or not the property owner owed a legal duty to the plaintiff, and if so, whether or not the property owner breached that duty. Florida premises liability law sets forth the specific duties owed to those injured on another's property. There is more than one standard, and the duty owed to a slip and fall claimant depends on why he or she was on the property when the injury occurred.

Claimants injured at work should discuss their claims with a Bradenton worker's compensation lawyer. Slip and fall injuries sustained at work are typically subject to Florida worker's compensation laws, unless you were injured in another location.

Determining the Duty Owed to Visitors Injured in Bradenton Slip and Fall Accidents

With some minor exceptions, Florida sorts premises liability plaintiffs into one of three categories:

  • Invitee - Someone whose presence on the property is invited or encouraged. Examples of invitees include social guests, students, shoppers, and business patrons.
  • Licensee - Someone whose presence is permitted but not specially invited or encouraged. Examples may include door-to-door salespeople, neighbors, public park visitors, or someone taking a stroll.
  • Trespasser - Someone not permitted on the property. It does not matter whether the trespass was intentional or accidental.

In negligence cases, invitees are owed the highest duty of care. Property owners must proactively look for and remedy trip-and-fall dangers. It's not enough to warn invitees of the risk. Injured claimants falling into this category can typically recover compensation for personal injuries. Licensees must be warned of known but hidden dangers, but the property owner does not have a duty to make the premises safe for licensees or warn them of obvious hazards. Generally, trespassers are not owed a duty of care in ordinary negligence cases.

The claimant's status at the time of the accident controls the standard of care, and this may change throughout a visit. For example, a woman who slips and falls while opening a bank account is an invitee, but if she slips when using an employees-only bathroom without permission, she may be a trespasser.

If she leaves and then walks back into the bank to use the bathroom, she may only be a licensee. Bradenton premises liability law is highly fact-specific, and it's essential to speak with an experienced Bradenton personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after a falling accident.

Simple slip and falls are traditionally ordinary negligence claims. While property owners do not owe trespassers a duty of care in ordinary negligence cases, this doesn't negate all liability. Non-criminal trespassers may be owed a limited duty of care depending on the nature of the danger, such as a grossly dangerous condition or trap, the age of the trespasser, and whether or not the property owner knew about the trespasser.

Property owners may be legally obligated to warn known trespassers about particularly dangerous conditions. Owners also have a duty not to intentionally or recklessly injure non-criminal trespassers. For example, a property owner who thinks there's a trespasser in his shed cannot intentionally harm the trespasser. These duties do not apply to trespassers engaged in a felony, such as armed robbery, but may apply to shoplifters. Speak with a personal injury attorney confidentially if you were seriously injured while a trespasser.

Applying Florida's Attractive Nuisance Doctrine

Parents of child trespassers injured in falling accidents may have a claim under Florida's attractive nuisance doctrine. This limited exception applies to property owners with conditions or items on their property likely to attract children. These conditions may include anything from an outdoor refrigerator to a swimming pool. If there is a dangerous condition on a property that a child can easily access, and the owner did not take economically reasonable steps to protect the child, you may have a claim for damages under this doctrine. The nuisance must foreseeably attract children, and the child must lack the capacity to appreciate the risk. These situations often arise when children fall while running towards unprotected playgrounds or unfenced swimming pools.

Special Laws Applicable to Slips and Falls in Bradenton Business Establishments

Because so many people visit Bradenton businesses each day, Florida limits business establishments' legal duty in limited slip and fall cases. Florida Statute § 768.0755 applies explicitly to slip and falls occurring in business establishments when the claimant slips due to a non-permanent, moveable condition. This typically means something dropped or spilled, such as coffee, or rainy day hazards, such as leaky rooftops. A business only has to remedy dangerous conditions it knew about in such cases. Many premises liability claims fall under this statute.

A plaintiff injured in a Bradenton business establishment must prove the condition was inherently dangerous, i.e., a slip and fall hazard, and that the business knew about it. It can be challenging to get an employee to testify that he or she knew about the danger and neglected to do anything about it. As such, Bradenton claimants may show the business should have known about the condition.

A claimant may submit evidence that either the condition existed long enough that a careful business should have discovered it, or the condition occurred on a regular and foreseeable basis, such as a roof leaking every time it rains. These standards do not apply to non-business establishments like private homes, or conditions that aren't temporary, such as a hole in the flooring.

Recovering Compensation for Falling Injuries Sustained on Public Property

Claimants injured on publicly owned land must follow a unique claims procedure. The same legal duties apply to slip and falls on public property, but the process for obtaining damages is different. First, claimants must identify the specific agency responsible for the building and/or land. This may be the School District of Manatee County or the Florida Division of Recreation and Parks. Next, the injured claimant must file a claim for damages directly with that agency. This typically involves particular forms, attachments, and procedures. An experienced municipal slip and fall attorney can often file this claim on your behalf.

The agency typically has six months to either pay or reject your claim. If it doesn't do so within this timeframe, it's considered a rejection. Petitioners who had their slip and fall claims rejected may file a case against the State or County. Plaintiffs who do not file a claim will have the litigation dismissed for failure to abide by these procedures.

Slips and falls occurring in the following public locations are generally subject to these procedures:

  • Public schools
  • State colleges
  • Parks and sports complexes
  • Public pools
  • Courthouses
  • Town halls
  • State hospitals
  • Police and fire stations

Florida limits the slip and fall liability of state entities to $200,000, but private parties may be liable for creating dangerous conditions on public land. Speak with a slip and fall lawyer today if you need to make a premises liability claim against a public entity in Bradenton.

Falling Causes Serious Injuries in Bradenton

Falls are the leading cause of traumatic brain injuries and hip fractures in the United States. Even seemingly inconspicuous hazards can result in severe injuries based on the impact surface, elevation, and angle of the fall.

Injuries sustained in Bradenton slip and fall accidents may include:

  • Head trauma
  • Spinal cord accident
  • Neck and back pain
  • Ankle fractures
  • Wrist fractures
  • ACL and ligament tears
  • Knee and shoulder damage

Slipping in liquid often results in a loss of traction, which can propel a claimant forward or backward. Falling forward can cause wrist fractures, ligament damage, and facial trauma. Falling backward often results in more severe injuries, such as head trauma and spinal cord damage, because it's difficult to break backward falls.

Sideways falls, which can result from slipping on movable objects like ladders, may result in hip fractures and shoulder damage. Twisting falls, which sometimes cause knee damage, ankle fractures, and disc herniations, often occur when a claimant's foot gets trapped in a depression.

Damages Potentially Available to Bradenton Slip and fall Plaintiffs

If you were injured in a falling accident, you might be entitled to compensation from negligent parties.

Both property owners and entities controlling the property may be liable for the damages arising from the fall, including:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Assisted living expenses
  • Home health aides/nursing care
  • Paid assistance with daily activities
  • Medical transportation and equipment
  • Medical bills
  • Lost wages

In viable premises liability cases, the property insurer typically pays these damages. However, seriously injured slip and fall claimants often need essential compensation quickly and will require additional future payments. Accepting an expeditious insurance settlement offer may mean waiving all future claims arising from the fall. Signing for a quick check could leave you with unpaid future expenses and no remedy.

A Bradenton slip and fall attorney can often work with doctors, occupational therapists, and economists to calculate the fair value of your future losses. These calculations may give rise to a quicker out-of-court settlement offer that covers past and anticipated future expenses.

Florida Contributory Negligence Doctrine

Negligent property owners often shift blame to the injured claimant after a serious slip and fall accident. They commonly argue that the injured party should have seen and avoided the slipping hazard. Whether a plaintiff contributed to that fall depends on the facts of each case. If the hazard was open and obvious, a property owner might avoid paying for a lot of your damages. Florida refers to this distribution of liability as comparative fault. For example, a claimant who didn't see spilled orange juice may be considered 50 percent at fault for the accident. This determination means she can only recover half of her overall damages from any negligent parties.

If property insurers can assign slip and fall claimants even some of the fault, they can save themselves thousands of dollars. Insurance adjusters start building these arguments early in the claims process. Don't be surprised by seemingly innocent questions about your eyesight, attentiveness, footwear, phone use, prior falls, and overall health when making a demand for compensation. Adjusters are looking for anything they can use to mitigate their responsibility and get you to accept a percentage of the blame. Bradenton legal professionals know to expect contributory negligence arguments in slip and fall cases, and they also know that insurance determinations are seldom accurate and not binding on Florida courts.

Bradenton Slip and Fall FAQ

Do Bradenton property owners have to make sure people don't trip and fall?

It depends. Falling accidents are one of the leading causes of injuries, including brain death, among young children and the elderly. Florida's premises liability laws control whether a Bradenton property owner is responsible for preventing a fall. The reason you were on the property, the cause of the fall, and the steps the owner took to prevent the fall are all considered in determining liability.

Just because you fell does not mean you have a claim for damages. However, many Bradenton residents injured in slip-and-fall accidents can recover compensation from a property insurer or liable entity. Falling claims are very fact-specific, so it's important to take photographs of the scene, identify witnesses, and submit a timely request for compensation. It's also recommended that claimants save and not wash any shoes or clothing they were wearing at the time of the fall. These items may contain traces of a foreign substance that caused the accident.

How do I determine if a property owner owed me a duty in Bradenton?

Florida adheres to traditional premises liability law. Property owners have different responsibilities to different people. The reason a claimant was on the property when he or she fell generally sets this standard.

Anyone injured in a Bradenton slip-and-fall accident is categorized as follows:

  • Invitees - Persons whose presence is requested or desired on the property. The highest duty of care is owed to those invited or encouraged to come to a particular area. The property owner must make the property safe for invitees, which includes looking for and remedying tripping hazards. Invitees injured in a slip and fall often have a case for negligence in Bradenton.
  • Licensees - Persons permitted on the property but not specifically invited or encouraged to frequent the area. Visitors to public parks, neighborhood gatherings, or uninvited party guests may be examples of licensees. Property owners and proprietors must warn licensees of known dangers, but they do not have to actively monitor for danger or remedy a hazardous condition. They must, however, avoid intentionally or recklessly harming an invitee.
  • Discovered trespasser - Someone who is not lawfully on the property but who the property owner was aware of at least 24 hours before the accident. The owner owes no general duty to protect a discovered trespasser. That being said, he or she must refrain from intentionally or recklessly causing the trespasser harm and must warn the trespasser of any known dangers, such as a sinkhole.
  • Undiscovered trespasser - Someone who is not lawfully on the property, nor was the property owner aware of the undiscovered trespasser's presence 24 hours before the accident. The owner does not owe any duty to an undiscovered trespasser except to refrain from intentional misconduct that harms that individual.
  • Criminal trespassers - Anyone not lawfully on the property and in the process of committing a felony. No duty is owed to a criminal trespasser.
  • Child trespassers - Applies to young children who wander onto the property because something attracts them, such as a swimming pool or playset. This is called the attractive nuisance doctrine, to which specific laws apply. Generally, the owner must take any economically reasonable steps to block a dangerous area that he or she knows would attract children.

There is an exception to invitee/licensee liability if you slipped and fell on a transient foreign substance at a business establishment. In such cases, the claimant must prove the proprietor knew or should have known about the substance. Florida Statute § 768.0755 provides that this may include proving the danger had been present for a while, or proving that the condition occurred regularly, such as water dripping from frozen meat in a grocery store.

A negligence tort forms the basis of most slip-and-fall lawsuits. Torts are unlawful acts or omissions that cause injury. Negligence occurs when a person who owed you a duty was less careful than a reasonable person should have been under the circumstances.

Bradenton premises liability claimants must generally prove the following four elements of negligence to recover compensation:

  • Duty - The property owner owed you a duty, as defined by your status on the property, i.e., invitee, licensee, trespasser.
  • Breach - The property owner breached the applicable duty by an act or failure to act.
  • Causation - The breach of duty caused or substantially contributed to your fall.
  • Damages - The fall caused actual harm, even if it is difficult to quantify.

For example, an invitee who tripped at the movies only has to prove there was an unsafe condition in the stairwell that caused the fall, such as ripped carpet. A licensee would have to show the movie theater knew about the ripped carpet and failed to warn him or her that the carpet was a tripping hazard. A trespasser, such as someone who snuck in from the emergency exit, isn't owed a duty. He or she would have to prove the theater ripped the carpet to harm the trespasser intentionally, or that the condition was so dangerous it shouldn't have existed.

Can I recover money if I slipped and fell on public property?

The exact rules are dependent on whether you tripped and fell on public property or private property opened for the benefit of the public. Most public trip-and-fall cases involve licensees, not invitees. Therefore, you have to prove the public entity knew and failed to warn you about the danger to recover damages. Bradenton claimants must typically file an administrative claim against the municipality, county, and/or state.

You may only litigate denied claims under Florida's tort claims laws, and successful plaintiffs are limited to $200,000 in damages. These limitations generally control personal injuries sustained in publicly owned buildings, schools, parks, playgrounds, and swimming pools.

How do I find out who is liable for a slip and fall in Bradenton?

Property ownership is public information. The owner is ultimately responsible for negligently caused injuries, even for rented premises. In practice, personal injury attorneys often bring negligence claims against the property owner listed in the records, and the property owner will join or reveal any new parties allegedly responsible for maintaining or monitoring the property. A plaintiff can typically add another liable party to the litigation at a later time.

What are the most common injuries suffered in falling accidents?

The phrase “slip and fall” is used loosely among Bradenton legal practitioners because it may seem to belittle the seriousness of falling injuries. The CDC reports that more Americans die from falls, car crashes, and violence each year than pass away from cancer, HIV, or the flu. In fact, falls are the third leading cause of preventable death in the United States.

Negligent property maintenance in Bradenton often causes the following injuries:

  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) - A severe head impact, such as falling from a height or backward, can cause life-changing brain damage or even death. Falls are the leading cause of traumatic brain injuries in the United States, especially among young children.
  • Neck and spinal cord injuries - Slip and falls may result in fractures to the neck or back, as well as spinal cord injuries. These are difficult to treat, often permanent, and can result in paralysis or death.
  • Broken/dislocated hips - Falls commonly result in broken hips among older adults because hip joints weaken with age and can develop arthritis.
  • Wrist/arm fractures - Injured claimants often break their falls with their wrists.
  • Ankle fractures - This common injury occurs when a claimant steps in a hidden depression or trips over a protruding object.
  • Knee and shoulder damage - These areas of the body take the substantial impact of forward-momentum falls.

Head injuries, spinal cord damage, and broken hips may place substantial financial burdens on families, and can even result in death. A broken wrist alone can cost a Bradenton resident thousands in out-of-pocket medical expenses. If you were injured in a fall, a local attorney might help you claim bodily injury damages from a liable property insurer.

How can I get my medical bills paid if I tripped and fell in Bradenton?

Many property owners carry bodily injury and liability insurance. Bradenton residents injured in a trip and fall might claim compensation from the property insurer. Insurers may cover certain medical expenses or pay minor claims for falling injuries without the need for extensive discovery or litigation. Make sure to speak with a premises liability attorney before accepting an insurance payment, however. Accepting the payment may require you to waive viable personal injury claims against the insured in exchange.

If the property insurer or owner denies liability, additional options include:

  • Appealing the insurance denial
  • Using your medical insurance and making a subsequent claim for damages
  • Filing civil tort litigation in Bradenton
  • Arbitrating or mediating your claims
  • Working with a personal injury attorney to settle your claims directly with a liable party

Successful claimants might recover compensation for lost wages, rehabilitation, medical equipment, medical transportation, nursing care, pain, and suffering.

Can I still recover damages if I'm partially to blame for a falling accident?

Yes, but your recovery will be reduced. Florida follows a system of tort law called comparative fault. This permits a judge or jury to assign liability between multiple negligent parties, including the plaintiff. A claimant injured in a fall is commonly assigned partial fault if the condition was open and obvious, meaning the individual could have avoided the hazard if he or she had paid attention. The jury will consider whether the danger was obscured, such as a pothole at night, or transparent, like water on the floor. Fact-finders may also consider the age of the victim and location of the hazard. For example, a three-year-old child might not be contributorily negligent for failing to recognize dangers on a playground.

Many times, this is simply a tactic that insurance companies try to employ—blame you for the fall so they don't have to pay your claim. Our Bradenton slip and fall lawyers have experience fighting this tactic, so call us if someone tries to blame you for a fall that they caused.

Can I sue if my elderly parent fell at a Bradenton nursing home or assisted living facility?

Yes. Nursing home residents are invitees, not licensees. They are owed the highest duty of care under Florida premises liability law. Further, fall prevention is the reason most senior citizens require round-the-clock care. In addition to a negligence claim, many residents who fell in an assisted living facility may sue the facility for negligent supervision. This is a particular area of personal injury law, and it's recommended you speak with a Bradenton nursing home liability attorney for these types of slip-and-fall claims. Medical malpractice claims may also arise if a senior didn't receive proper care after the fall.

What are my options for getting my child's medical bills paid if he or she fell at a Bradenton school?

Many childhood injuries occur at school. The State of Florida and Manatee County control Bradenton public schools, which means you must generally file an administrative claim with the overseeing entity. An attorney can help you with this process. If the agency doesn't address the demand within six months, or denies the claim in writing, you may file a case for negligence in Bradenton court. You may also have a claim for negligent supervision if an elementary-age child was injured while under a teacher's care.

What is the statute of limitations for slip-and-fall claims in Florida?

Fla. Stat. § 95.11 sets the statute of limitations at four years for negligence-based claims. Most premises liability claims are negligence cases. If a loved one died as the result of injuries sustained in a Bradenton fall, the statute of limitations for wrongful death is two years from the date of death. You must file litigation within that window of time, or you could forfeit your claim. Exceptions may apply if the injured claimant was disabled after the accident or a minor at the time of injury.

Speak with a Qualified Slip and Fall Lawyer in Bradenton Today

Bradenton Slip and Fall Attorney
Matthew Dolman, Bradenton Slip and Fall Attorney

Whether your mother fell in a nursing home, your child tripped at school, or you slipped while shopping, careless property maintenance may result in life-changing injuries. Determining liability for Bradenton falling accidents is more complicated than it seems. Property owners will be quick to downplay your status on the property, and blame you for contributing to the accident. Don't fall for these intimidation tactics. Discuss your claim with an experienced Bradenton slip and fall attorney at the Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA today.

With offices across both Florida coasts, you can easily reach Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, and Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, at (941) 613-5747, or you can write to us using our online contact page.

Bradenton Office
6703 14th Street West Suite 207
Bradenton, FL 34207
Phone: (941) 613-5747

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Matthew Dolman

Personal Injury Lawyer

This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has successfully fought for more than 11,000 injured clients and acted as lead counsel in more than 1,000 lawsuits. Always on the cutting edge of personal injury law, Matt is actively engaged in complex legal matters, including Suboxone, AFFF, and Ozempic lawsuits.  Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess of $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.

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