How to Win a Slip and Fall Case in Florida

How to Win a Slip and Fall Case in Florida

How to Win a Slip and Fall Case in Florida 1296 728 Panter, Panter & Sampedro

One of the most frequent causes of workplace injuries is “slips, trips, and falls,” accounting for sixteen percent of all of total claims, according to InsuranceJournal.com. The average compensation for slip and fall accidents recovered by injured parties can vary depending on the percentage of fault attributed to each party. In Florida, this is known as “comparative negligence.” 

When an individual files a premises liability claim or lawsuit, the property owner will argue that the individual is responsible for at least some part of the accident. Even if the claim never makes it to court, finding shared fault will reduce the amount of compensation an injured individual is able to recover. 

A property owner can push some of the blame onto an individual by arguing that the injured person accessed a portion of the property that is off-limits, or in an area where they should not be. Other arguments may include: using a cell phone or being otherwise distracted; ignoring safety cones, signage, or other objects used to signal a dangerous space or obstacle; and wearing inappropriate footwear. 

Types of Slip and Fall Cases

Slip and fall accidents can result in a multitude of different injuries. Some of the most common include soft tissue trauma, such as muscle strains, torn ligaments, or sprained wrists; head injuries, resulting in mild concussions, or even traumatic brain injuries; skin lacerations, such as cuts, scrapes, or chemical burns; and spinal cord damage that could lead to chronic pain, partial or total paralysis. 

Amusement Park Fiasco Leads To $1,750,000 Settlement

When proud father “Frank” chose a local amusement park as the location for his daughter’s upcoming fifteenth birthday he did not expect his life and the life of his family to be irrevocably changed. Upon their arrival, park employees seemed unprepared for the surge in visitors over the long weekend, but “Frank” decided to climb up to the park’s centerpiece attraction with his family. As the ride was intended to be experienced one at a time, he watched his daughter climb in first and then shortly followed after. By the end of the ride, the pain in his back and pelvis was debilitating. He was immediately transported by ambulance to a local hospital where doctors diagnosed him with a pelvic injury. “Frank” took a turn for the worse once home, and was subsequently admitted to South Miami Hospital where doctors told him that he would need to undergo an open reduction internal fixation because of his pelvic fracture. Following the surgery, he was prescribed Percocet, a pain reliever, which irritated his bowels and resulted in diverticulitis. This condition resulted in yet another surgery. 

As a result of the traumatic experience and physical injuries, “Frank” fell into a depression, had trouble performing everyday tasks, and developed a form of erectile dysfunction. A urologist found that the pelvic fracture had damaged a nerve resulting in Peyronie’s Disease, which was causing his erectile dysfunction. “Frank” sought the use of a penile prosthesis which would include the insertion of a penile pump, and mental help counseling to assist with his declining mental health. With the support of his family, medical professionals, and counselor, he was able to halt his physical and mental decline. Yet, the medical bills were mounting, and he was unable to work for a significant amount of time due to his physical and mental anguish. 

“Frank” then sought the help of attorney David Sampedro, who subsequently filed suit against the theme park and its owner. During the discovery process, David found there had been other victims injured on the same attraction. He also discovered that theme park administrators were aware that the ride was unsafe for individuals weighing more than 150 pounds. At the time of the accident, “Frank” weighed 250 pounds. David then employed the expertise of experts in amusement park ride construction and development and safety protocols. After significant litigation and just before the case for was set for trial, David Sampedro was able to resolve the matter for $1,750,000.00. With the award, “Frank” was able to pay for his past and ongoing medical care, his daughters’ college education, and his family’s first home. *The party’s names have been changed to protect their identity.

What To Do Immediately After You Slip And Fall

The actions an individual takes immediately after a slip and fall accident can make all the difference in the outcome of a potential claim. 

  • Report the accident: an individual should report the accident to the premises’ owner or the highest ranking person responsible for the location, as soon as possible. A delay, especially if the accident was unwitnessed, can seriously damage the integrity of a claim. 
  • Record information of witness(es): if the accident was witnessed by another individual, the injured party should get the name and contact information of each witness present at the scene. 
  • Gather evidence: as soon as an individual is physically able, they should take pictures of the accident scene, and any injuries, from multiple angles. If the injured person is unable to move due to the accident, they should recruit the help of family, friends, or bystanders to help them take pictures. 
  • Report injuries accurately to a health care provider: what an individual reports to a doctor should be consistent with what they are describing in a claim or lawsuit. Inconsistency can seriously derail an insurance claim or premises lawsuit. Individuals should report the accident accurately and consistently to all of their health care providers. 
  • Do not give a recorded statement: some individuals may receive a phone call from an insurance adjuster asking them to give a recorded statement about the slip and fall accident. There is no law requiring an individual to comply with this request, and in fact a recorded statement may be used against an individual during negotiations or in a proceeding lawsuit. 
  • Attend all medical appointments: When an individual misses scheduled medical appointments it signals to the insurance company or jury that the individual’s injuries are not as severe as they were reported. 

How Long Do I Have To Go To The Doctor After I Slip And Fall?

The sooner an individual seeks medical attention, the better. Experts would suggest an injured person seek medical attention within 72 hours, and common wisdom dictates that an individual is more likely to be believed that their injuries are serious if they seek medical attention immediately. An insurance company or jury is less likely to believe that a person’s injuries are severe the longer they wait to report those injuries to a medical professional. 

Florida Statute Of Limitations For Slip And Fall Cases

A statute of limitations is a law that dictates the maximum time after an event within which legal proceedings may be initiated. In Florida, a person has four years from the date of the slip and fall accident to file a lawsuit against the property owner. The same deadline,  Florida Statutes section 95.11(3)(a), also governs the time an individual has to file a lawsuit over property damage caused by a slip and fall accident. 

What You Need To Prove During A Slip And Fall Case

In order for an individual to prove a property owner is responsible for their injuries and property losses, certain factors must be present. 

  • Premises Liability: in order to prove the property owner was liable, it must be found that the injury was caused due to a location’s unsafe or defective conditions. 
  • Negligence: an individual must then prove that the property owner knew or should have known of the unsafe condition. 
  • Fault: a property owner is found to be at-fault when it is proven that they knew or should have known about the unsafe condition, and then failed to remedy the situation. 

What is Duty of Care?

In Florida, a property owner is required to provide reasonable care in the ownership and maintenance of their property. Further, property owners should ensure that their location is free of any potentially hazardous conditions with respect to anyone who may enter the property. This is known as “duty of care”. 

Injured In A Slip And Fall Accident? Take action

If you’ve been injured in a slip and fall accident, do not let the statute of limitations expire. Take action now by calling the lawyers of Panter, Panter, and Sampedro. We want to help you and your family recover the compensation you deserve. Call (305) 662-6178 for a free consultation with one of our premises liability attorneys today. 

Sources: 

https://insurancejournal.com/news/national/2016/05/18/409006.htm

https://nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/florida-slip-and-fall-laws.html

https://panterlaw.com/premises-liability/slip-fall-accident/

https://panterlaw.com/news-resources/amusement-park-fiasco-leads-to-1750000-settlement/

https://alllaw.com/articles/nolo/personal-injury/starting-slip-fall-injury-claim.html

https://nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/florida-slip-and-fall-laws.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Statute_of_limitations

https://nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/what-premises-liability.html

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