Slip and fall accidents occur in a moment, but fall-related injuries can change a person’s life forever. Some injured victims come away with only minor bruises and abrasions, while others sustain brain injuries, spinal cord damage, or severe fractures. Seriously injured victims often deal with overwhelming personal and financial costs. A personal injury attorney can help slip and fall victims make sure they have the resources to make a full recovery, especially if a negligent property owner was at fault for the circumstances that led to their fall.
If you or a loved one has suffered injuries in a slip and fall accident, the sooner you contact an attorney, the better. Contact the Tampa Slip and Fall Attorneys at Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA and Sibley Dolman to schedule a free consultation today.
Negligent Property Owners Should Pay
At Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA and Sibley Dolman, we believe in treating each injured client with compassion. Our personal injury lawyers have witnessed, first hand, how catastrophic injuries can derail our clients’ futures and alter their family dynamics. Our lawyers listen carefully to our clients’ stories and work to identify the relevant legal issues, investigate the accident, and determine liability in every case we take on. We use our firm’s resources to prepare and present our clients’ cases for settlement negotiations or trial. And we do our best to build the case so that property owners are forced to pay for the damages they caused.
Our Law Firm’s Results
At Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA and Sibley Dolman Accident Injury Attorneys, we only handle personal injury cases for accident victims. Our focus on injured victims allows us to expertly identify legal issues, evaluate injury complications, and prepare our cases for resolution. We rely on our negotiation expertise when we’re face to face with an insurance negotiator. We call on our presentation skills when we present our clients’ evidence in an alternative dispute forum or a courtroom.
We always work to protect our clients’ legal interests, using the methods that best meet their needs and circumstances. This can mean negotiating a settlement instead of litigating a case, or resolving a claim with the help of a mediator. When possible, we negotiate or mediate issues and damages, which means quicker results and less cost for our clients. But when the other party wouldn’t negotiate fairly, we have no problem taking our clients’ cases to court.
We’ve recovered millions of dollars in damages over the years, with each recovery based on the individual client’s unique injuries and accident circumstances. We can’t promise a specific outcome in any particular case, but we invite you to view our case results. Our victories reflect our firm’s strong commitment to optimum outcomes. For example, we obtained $300,000 in damages on behalf of a client who fell due to poor parking lot maintenance. Our attorneys overcame the denial and negotiated a substantial settlement.
Slips and Falls Happen Fast
Falls are one of the most common causes of injuries and fatalities in Florida. The Florida Health Department documented falls as the primary cause of fatal injuries for residents age 65 and older. Falls are number two on the list of unintentional injury-related deaths among residents of all ages. Every year, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration lists falls as the number one cause of construction-related fatalities nationwide.
Falls often occur when a property owner fails to adequately maintain their walkways, driveways, staircases, or other common areas. When left unresolved, simple maintenance issues can become hazards for those who enter the property. Common property maintenance issues include:
- Lack of safety and security measures: No rails or warning signs
- Poorly maintained stairways: Deteriorating steps, worn or torn carpeting, broken flooring, inadequate or no lighting
- Poorly maintained elevators and escalators: Erratic or non-functioning units, deteriorating flooring, unsecured mats
- Poor snow and ice removal: Melted and refrozen snow, no snow removal, no ice control, snow-covered sidewalks and driveways
- Unsafe retail displays: Poorly arranged merchandise, aisle-blocking displays, poor spill-removal procedures
Slip and Fall Injuries at Work
Falls can cause serious injuries and fatalities on the job. Employees can fall from elevated areas, construction platforms, industrial machinery, and on ordinary walking surfaces. Florida worker’s compensation coverage pays medical bills and up to two-thirds of an employee’s lost wages. It doesn’t reimburse employees for all of their losses, but it’s the sole remedy against an employer for an on-the-job injury.
Still, there are sometimes additional recovery options for a work-related slip and fall injury. Other responsible parties might include:
- A non-employer, independent contractor, or other entity.
- The manufacturer of a defective product.
- Another property owner whose property was poorly maintained.
If you’ve been injured at work, our personal injury attorneys can review your accident and determine if we can recover additional damages based on your specific circumstances.
Slip and Fall Injuries
Falls can occur while a person is walking down the stairs, moving on an escalator, navigating playground equipment, or performing their job. People fall on hard surfaces along walkways, driveways, and retail locations. They trip over store displays and on snow and ice-laden sidewalks.
A fall on a lawn or some other soft surface usually causes minor problems. A more serious impact with a metal, concrete, or other hard surface can cause more serious injuries. While people of all ages sustain slip and fall injuries, young children and seniors are more susceptible to serious and catastrophic injuries.
The following are some of the most common injuries from slip and fall accidents:
- Traumatic brain injuries: People with moderate to severe traumatic brain injuries can suffer lifelong cognitive, physical, emotional, and behavioral effects. The Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems database shows that falls caused 27 percent of the 16,495 traumatic brain injuries they have tracked.
- Spinal cord injuries: Spinal cord injuries can cause paralysis, partial paralysis, and impaired bodily functions, depending on the severity and location of the injury. The National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center has determined that of the 17,700 spinal cord injuries that occur nationwide each year, falls cause 31.6 percent of those injuries.
- Serious/multiple fractures: Victims of all ages can sustain fractures during slip and fall incidents. Childhood fractures sometimes involve growth plate injuries that require ongoing treatment. Seniors often fracture their hip or pelvis during a fall, and deal with long-term complications from those injuries. In 2017, the Florida Health Department documented 2,817 deaths due to falls involving seniors age 65 and older.
- Damaged internal organs: Abdominal organ damage often results from pelvic and spinal fractures. A person’s organs sometimes sustain damage when they fall to a hard surface or from a height.
Who Is Responsible for Slip and Fall Injuries?
When a Tampa property owner fails to correct unsafe conditions or warn visitors of an existing hazard, they may be responsible for any resulting injuries. Subcontractors who maintain and repair the property for the owner may also share liability. Florida courts have decided that a landowner’s legal responsibility to an injured person is based on whether the injured person was an invitee, a licensee, or a trespasser.
- An Invitee: An invitee is a person who the owner expressly or implicitly invited to enter the property. The property owner owes an invitee the highest duty of care. That means they must take proper precautions to protect invitees from harm and warn them about any hidden dangers.
- A licensee: A licensee is a person who enters someone else’s property without express permission. Florida courts have decided that an owner owes few duties to a licensee.
- A trespasser: A property owner has no legal duty to prevent injuries to a person who has no legal right to be on their property. However, they cannot set a trap or otherwise deliberately cause the trespasser injury.
What Damages Can I Recover for My Slip and Fall Injuries?
An injury settlement may include economic, non-economic, and sometimes punitive damages.
Economic damages reimburse an injured victim for medical bills and other treatment, recovery, and disability costs. If a catastrophically injured victim requires treatment indefinitely, the ongoing costs can be enormous.
Economic damages can include:
- Lost income
- Emergency room treatment
- Physician and surgeon fees
- Scar revision procedures
- Mobility devices and prostheses
- Physical and psychological therapy
- Medical transportation costs
- Replacement services
- Funeral and burial expenses
Non-economic damages establish a dollar value for an injured victim’s emotional and psychological trauma. Attorneys base these damages on the injured person’s subjective thoughts and feelings about their slip and fall injuries and related issues. Non-economic damages may include compensation for:
- Pain and suffering
- Anxiety and emotional distress
- Lost spousal or family relationships
- Lifestyle changes
- Lost bodily functions
- Permanent impairments and limitations
In Florida, courts award punitive damages to punish a defendant for willful or deliberate behavior that caused the plaintiff’s injuries. An injured plaintiff may seek to recover punitive damages under Florida Statute §768.72.
Fighting Against a Negligent Property
The process of recovering damages for slip and fall injuries is often an uphill battle. Property owners usually push back against slip and fall injury allegations. They sometimes blame the injured person for their fall. If and when a property owner reports a claim to their liability insurance carrier, they often claim they were not liable.
Insurance companies also frequently refuse to settle slip and fall claims or offer unreasonably low settlements. If the insured property owner has medical payments coverage, the insurance company may offer to pay medical bills only. This “no-fault” coverage pays for medical bills regardless of who was at fault. This kind of coverage can prevent an injured person from incurring out-of-pocket expenses but it won’t pay for lost income or other non-economic damages.
Property owners’ insurance companies sometimes defend slip and fall cases hoping that they won’t have to pay anything at all, even if the property owner was at fault. They rely on traditional defenses to eliminate or minimize their insured’s potential liability, including:
- No negligence: The property owner alleges that they didn’t do anything wrong and properly maintained their property.
- Status on premises: The owner alleges that the injured person was a licensee or a trespasser and was not entitled to reasonable care.
- Visible warning: If a property owner proves that they posted a warning, they may avoid liability for a hazard on their property.
- Comparative negligence: The defendant tries to prove that the injured person was negligent and caused their own injuries. They may allege that the injured person’s footwear was inadequate, that they needed glasses, or that some other contributing factor actually caused the fall. Under Florida’s pure Comparative Fault Statute §768.81, an insurance company or jury can reduce any award or settlement by the percentage that they determine the injured person was at fault for the accident.
- Damages: A defendant may claim that the injuries resulted from a different incident, or that they aren’t as serious as the injured person alleges.
- Open and obvious: Property owners often argue that an injured plaintiff should have seen a hazard before they fell.
Our slip and fall attorneys deal with creative defense strategies by thoroughly preparing our clients’ cases and presenting critical evidence. Our experience has been the key to our frequent success.
Tampa Slip and Fall FAQ
A slip and fall accident is a sudden event that can change your life forever. The impact of your body striking a hard surface can leave you with devastating injuries. Slip and fall accidents that occur due to someone else’s negligence generally fall under premises liability. Understanding what the property owner knew and when they knew it is a key element of a slip and fall lawsuit. If you experienced serious injuries in a slip and fall accident, you may want to discuss your case with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible.
The following are answers to some commonly asked questions when it comes to slip and fall accidents that occur due to a negligent property owner.
I feel fine after my fall. Should I go to the hospital anyway?
The shock of a sudden fall can leave anyone hopeful they are fine immediately afterward. The adrenaline rush that follows such a traumatic event can mask underlying—and serious—injuries with no visible signs or symptoms.
Examples of injuries that may come with delayed signs or symptoms include:
- Concussions; and
- Internal bleeding.
Accepting medical transport to a hospital is imperative for your health. It also serves as valuable documentation of your injuries. The stiff neck or headache you experience after your fall can develop into a more complicated medical issue. Internal bleeding is especially dangerous due to the potential for organ damage.
Untreated shock can result in death and is another important reason why you need to accept medical transport. Allow first responders to treat your injuries and to transport you to a medical facility. While it is a scary and uncertain time, listen to and follow the advice of medical professionals.
No visible blood does not mean you are without a serious injury. Always seek immediate medical attention following your slip and fall accident. An imaging test might just save your life by identifying a dangerous, and silent, internal injury. After seeking medical attention, take the next important step, and review your legal options with a personal injury attorney.
What does negligence mean?
Merriam-Webster defines negligence as the “failure to use the same care a reasonably prudent person would use in like circumstances.” When you experience a serious slip and fall injury due to a known danger, the property owner is generally negligent.
A visit to a store or to a restaurant should not result in a devastating injury. When you or a loved one accept an invitation to visit an establishment, you do so expecting a certain level of care.
A Tampa slip and fall lawyer must prove the following when pursuing compensation for your injuries, losses, and pain and suffering:
- The defendant owed you or your loved one a duty of care.
- The defendant was negligent, either through their actions or by failing to act to protect you from harm.
- The defendants’ negligence caused your injuries.
- You or your family sustained damage due to the defendants’ negligence.
A slip Tampa and fall injury can occur in a variety of situations. Here are just a few examples of why a property owner may face liability for your injuries:
- No handrail along a staircase.
- A wet floor from a known roof leak.
- Cords stretched across a floor.
- Torn or uneven carpeting
- Parking lots with insufficient lighting.
- Holes in a parking lot or sidewalk.
When a property owner has prior knowledge of danger yet fails to take action to correct it, they are generally liable for resulting accidents. The laws surrounding premises liability are complex and require the skills of an experienced personal injury attorney.
No one should experience physical, financial, and emotional stress at the hands of a negligent property owner. The second you become injured in a slip and fall accident is the moment your life changes forever. While pursuing compensation may not fix your situation, it can improve it by possibly providing the funds you need for quality care.
A property owner who is too lazy or who wants to save money by not replacing torn carpet must take accountability for your injuries. The time you missed from work or spent away from family is not fair. Your night of fun with friends should result in great memories—not traumatic pain and suffering.
Personal injury attorneys understand how to approach premises liability cases. If you are wondering where to turn as you face mounting medical expenses, a personal injury attorney can begin to review your case today.
My loved one suffered catastrophic injuries. Can they sue?
Yes. According to the Centers for Disease Control, falls are the leading cause of traumatic brain injuries. The blunt force trauma of a head striking the floor can disrupt normal brain function. If your loved one experienced a brain injury in a slip and fall accident that was not their fault, a personal injury attorney can help you.
The disruption of normal brain function can impact motor and cognitive function along with sensation, such as touch and taste. Patients often experience hearing and vision problems. Additional changes in your loved one may include depression and bouts of anger.
Your loved one may require more care than you can provide at home. Placing them in a skilled living facility where they can receive the care they need is expensive. The average nursing home in Florida costs between $8,000 and $9,000 per month. These costs should not be your burden to bear.
Another devastating—and expensive —injury is a spinal cord injury. This important part of the body communicates with the brain to control movement and sensation. When the spinal cord becomes injured, that communication slows or stops.
Spinal cord injuries are either complete or incomplete, depending upon where the injury is along the spine. Patients often experience paralysis, resulting in the need for a power chair for mobility. Additional life changes might include home modifications and the need for accessible transportation.
The costs associated with a spinal cord injury can escalate into the millions of dollars over a victim’s lifetime. If your loved one experienced serious injuries due to a slip and fall accident that was no fault of their own, a personal injury attorney will review your case for free.
How can I prove the fall was not my fault?
Collecting evidence immediately following your accident is important should you decide to pursue civil action later. Pictures of the accident scene, along with contact information for witnesses are just two types of evidence you should collect. If your injuries prevent you from gathering evidence, ask a witness to help you.
The police rarely respond to a slip and fall accident. When you fall on private property, such as a restaurant or store, management typically completes an incident report. The report is to document the incident for the insurance company and for company records. It can also serve as important evidence for you when accompanied by witness statements and accident scene photos.
What you say or do not say to store employees, management, or bystanders is very important following your fall. Never admit fault for your fall, even if you are unsure what caused you to slip and fall. You may want to apologize simply out of embarrassment and to deflect attention away from you. Accepting fault for your slip and fall can negatively impact any future civil litigation and prevent you from receiving compensation for your injuries.
It is also important that you not speak with insurance company representatives before talking with an attorney. There is a chance they may place the blame for your accident with you. Securing legal representation is the best way to protect your best interests following your slip and fall accident.
How can a Tampa slip and fall attorney help me?
An insurance company may offer you a settlement soon after your accident. Accepting the offer may seem like a quick solution to your financial problems, when, in fact, it will likely only serve to make them worse.
Insurance companies are for-profit businesses that want to protect their best interests. The settlement they offer you may appear like a large sum to you and your loved ones when it most likely isn’t enough to cover your future medical needs. Accepting the settlement offer can prevent you from pursuing future compensation should your medical condition worsen later.
You may feel tempted to speak with the insurance company on your own. This is a dangerous move for two main reasons:
- The insurance company may try to place blame for the accident on you.
- The insurance company is too experienced to take on without legal representation.
An experienced personal injury attorney is familiar with the multitude of ways insurance companies try to underpay accident victims. When you experience a serious slip and fall injury due to property owner negligence, you deserve fair compensation.
Most personal injury cases settle out of court. However, the right attorney will be ready to take your case to trial if necessary.
While each case is different, you may be entitled to the following types of compensation:
- Medical costs, such as hospital and doctors’ fees.
- Ongoing costs, such as rehabilitation, therapy, and prescription medication.
- Lost wages from time spent away from work during your recovery.
- Diminished earning capacity, if you can’t return to the same job as before.
- Pain and suffering.
Holding the property owner responsible for their careless disregard of customer safety is important. Most importantly, it may prevent the same thing from happening to another person.
If you lost a loved one in a slip and fall accident, you may be entitled to possible compensation. A wrongful death lawsuit is typically filed on behalf of a close loved one.
Depending upon your relationship with the decedent, you may be eligible for the following types of damages:
- Final medical expenses.
- Funeral costs.
- Loss wages and future earnings.
- Loss of inheritance.
- Loss of companionship.
While no amount of money can replace your loved one, it can help to ease your financial burden. Wrongful death cases involve both economic and noneconomic damages. Economic damages are costs that are easy for juries to understand, such as medical bills. Noneconomic damages include harder to quantify losses, like the loss of companionship.
Should I wait to contact a Tampa slip and fall attorney?
No! When it comes to pursuing civil action against the property owner responsible for your injuries, time is of the essence. Civil lawsuits are bound by state law that governs the deadline for filing your case. The statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit in Florida is four years. The clock starts the moment you become injured.
This may seem like a long time, but it can pass in the blink of an eye when you are recovering from a serious fall. Before you know it, the time for filing your lawsuit has passed and your opportunity for possible compensation is lost forever. Do not miss your chance for justice. If you experienced serious injuries in a slip and fall accident, contacting a personal injury attorney as soon as possible is a smart idea.
Our Tampa slip and fall attorneys offer free case evaluations and work on a contingency fee basis. This means you owe no money upfront. We only collect our fee if we win your case. We can keep you informed throughout the process. We understand how to treat you with respect while aggressively pursuing the compensation you deserve.
A Tampa slip and fall attorney will stand by your side throughout your case. Securing legal representation is important for protecting your best interests moving forward. Medical and even funeral costs should not come out of your own pocket. If you experienced a serious slip and fall injury or lost a close loved one, contact a Tampa personal injury lawyer today.
Contact Our Tampa Slip and Fall Lawyers Today
Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA and Sibley Dolman Accident Injury Lawyers provide legal services from offices on both Florida coasts. You can reach us at 833-552-7274 (833-55-CRASH) or complete our contact form. We’ll schedule your free consultation to determine if we can help you recover compensation for your injuries.