Slip and Fall Accident Lawyers in Fort Lauderdale
Knowledgeable Slip and Fall Accident Attorneys Serving Clients Throughout Palm Beach County
Regardless of how graceful we like to believe that we are, every one of us has tripped before, and most of us have fallen flat on our faces at one time or another. If it was a minor fall, you might have just picked yourself up and laughed the incident off, but if the fall was more serious and caused injuries, it can be difficult to move on. Slip and fall accidents can result in serious and long-lasting injuries, especially for older adults who may break bones more easily and heal more slowly than younger people. Falls result in approximately 8.9 million emergency room visits each year, and in 2010 approximately 21,700 older adults died due to injuries sustained in a fall.
If you or a loved one has sustained injuries in a slip and fall accident, the first thing you should do is seek proper medical attention—even if you do not appear to be seriously injured, because only a trained medical professional can properly evaluate your injuries. If you are physically able, it can also be useful to look around to see if you can determine the cause of the fall, which can help prevent other people from having a similar accident. If the accident was caused by the negligence of a third party property owner, that person may be held financially responsible for the cost of the treatment and rehabilitation made necessary by their negligence, as well as for the pain and suffering that you’ve been forced to endure.
At Lawlor, White & Murphey, our team of personal injury lawyers has decades’ worth of combined experience helping Florida slip and fall accident victims recover compensatory damages for their injuries. We have recovered over $100 million in compensation for our clients, and have a proven track record of providing the smart and effective legal advocacy that our injured clients need to move forward with their lives.
Common Causes of Slip and Fall Accidents in Florida
In some cases, a slip and fall accident may occur in your own home or because of a misstep on an otherwise stable surface. However, in other cases, slip and fall accidents accident are caused because a property or building owner was negligent and failed to maintain the property in safe condition for visitors and guests. There are many different circumstances that can cause a slip and fall accident on someone else’s property, including:
- Poor lighting,
- Slippery floors,
- Liquids spilled on the floor,
- Uneven sidewalks, pathways, steps, or curbs,
- Unseen dangers, such as a hole covered by overgrown weeds,
- Electrical cords or other obstacles lying on a walkway,
- Loose rugs or mats,
- Open filing cabinets or desk drawers,
- Clutter on the floor,
- Parking lot potholes
Slip and fall accidents can happen anywhere, but common locations include:
- A friend’s home,
- Restaurants and bars,
- Office settings,
- Shopping malls,
- Grocery stores,
- Parking garages,
- Swimming pools, whether public or private,
- Beach boardwalks,
- Common areas in an apartment complex,
- Within a rental home.
Of course, a property owner cannot be held responsible for slip and fall accidents in all cases, but they should be held liable if they have failed to keep their property in a reasonably safe condition and this lack of care leads to an accident.
Potential Lasting Consequences of a Slip and Fall Accident
While minor falls might just lead to some bruising, a serious slip and fall accident can cause much more severe injuries that can impact your quality of life for years to come, and can even increase the risk of an early death. Falls are also the most common cause of brain injuries, and serious brain injuries can lead to memory problems, personality changes, and difficulty in basic functioning. In addition to the possibility of sustaining traumatic brain injuries, slip and fall accidents can also lead to:
- Torn ligaments and muscles,
- Nerve damage,
- Fractured bones, including the arms, legs, and hands,
- Joint injuries, including to the hips, knees, ankles and wrists,
- Head trauma,
- Spinal cord damage,
- Long-term fear of falling,
- Long-term chronic pain.
Many of the injuries associated with a serious slip and fall accident can lead to expensive medical bills, and slip and fall accident victims often find themselves struggling both to recuperate from the accident and stay above water financially. Some injuries force accident victims to take time off of work or to leave their job permanently, which means that in addition to extensive and expensive medical bills, these accident victims may lose their primary source of income.
If you sustained injuries in a slip and fall accident caused by the negligence of a third party, it is essential that you seek the help of an experienced slip and fall accident lawyer who can help you recover the compensation you need.
Establishing Fault in Florida Slip and Fall Accident Cases
To recover compensation for injuries sustained in a slip and fall accident in the state of Florida, the accident victim’s lawyer will seek to establish three primary elements in order to show that the property owner was negligent, as follows:
- Duty of care. We will first point to the property owner’s duty of care, which can be established based upon your reason for entering the property. For example, when an individual is walking through a store during business hours, or touring a house with a real estate agent, the property owner has a legal duty of care to make sure those areas are safe for visitors.
- Failure to exercise reasonable care. Next, our lawyers will investigate to prove that the property owner failed to exercise reasonable care in maintaining the property in safe condition for visitors, customers and other invited guests. For example, if an escalator was three years past its required inspection date or a business owner failed to fill in a hole in the parking lot even after multiple complaints from customers who tripped over it, that owner failed to exercise reasonable care, thus breaching the legal duty of care.
- The breach of care led to injury. Finally, we will work to prove that it was the property owner’s failure to maintain the property in safe condition that led to your injuries.
Establishing fault in a slip and fall accident case can become complicated because the court must see evidence proving that the property owner failed to act in a “reasonable” manner.
Example: if a grocery store employee spilled a gallon of milk and someone else almost immediately slipped on the resulting puddle, the grocery store owner would not necessarily be responsible—he or she is not expected to react instantly to remedy the unsafe condition. However, if an employee spilled that gallon of milk in the evening and the puddle was still there when the store opened the next morning, the owner is more likely to be held liable in a slip and fall case.
The property owner’s duty depends upon a number of factors, including why you were on the property in the first place. The following tiered system generally applies in establishing the degree of care the owner is required to exercise:
- Invitees. If you were invited onto public property (usually a business), the highest level of care must be exercised by the owner to ensure your safety. This includes a duty to inspect the premises to discover any dangerous conditions.
- Licensees. This category includes those who were invited onto the property for non-business reasons, for example, invited guests at a party. Although these property owners must maintain their property in reasonably safe condition, they are not required to inspect.
- Trespassers. Trespassers are on the property illegally, and so the property owner is usually only required to refrain from actively taking steps to harm the trespasser.
Experienced Slip and Fall Accident Lawyers at Lawlor, White & Murphey Fight to Establish Your Right to Compensation from a Negligent Property Owner
Our experienced team of slip and fall accident lawyers can help you determine whether a property owner was aware of a hazardous area, whether any reasonable efforts were taken to make the area safer, and whether a reasonable person would have made a greater effort to keep the property safe.
Once we establish that the property owner was, in fact, responsible for your slip and fall accident and injuries, we will fight to ensure that you receive the maximum compensation award possible in your case, including compensation for:
- Medical expenses,
- Rehabilitative and physical therapy costs,
- Loss of wages,
- Lost future earning capacity,
- Permanent disability,
- Decreased enjoyment of life.
Schedule a Free Initial Consultation to Discuss Your Slip and Fall Accident Claim With Our Experienced Florida Personal Injury Lawyers
If you or a loved one has sustained injuries in a slip and fall accident that was caused by the negligence of another, you deserve to be fairly compensated for your suffering and financial loss. However, it is important that you act quickly to retain legal help so that we can begin investigating to gather the evidence necessary to support your claim.
Call the law firm of Lawlor White & Murphey or fill out this short online contact form, and we will get back to you promptly to discuss your case. Our initial consultations are always free, and our lawyers work on a contingency basis, meaning we are not paid until you receive compensation. Even if you are still recovering from your accident and unable to come into our offices, our attorneys are available to travel to visit you in the hospital or your home to discuss your case if you prefer.
Frequently Asked Questions About Florida Slip and Fall Accidents
If possible, take photos of the area immediately. Property owners can quickly take steps to fix any faults in their property after they realize a slip and fall accident has occurred, and photos can help establish that the dangerous conditions did exist at the time of your accident. If there were any witnesses to the accident, obtain their contact information if possible. Importantly, seek medical attention quickly to establish that your injuries were, in fact, caused by the slip and fall accident.
Our lawyers will conduct a thorough investigation of the scene, and will interview any eyewitnesses that you have identified in addition to attempting to identify additional witnesses. In this day and age, many property owners have installed video surveillance cameras around their property, and we can obtain that footage to uncover additional evidence. If you were injured in a store or other place of employment, we will interview employees to see if anyone else noticed the dangerous conditions and establish whether the property owner knew of the danger (or reasonably should have known of the danger). We can also look to whether any prior reports of accidents on the property were made, or whether the property owner has a history of negligently maintaining the property. Depending upon the facts and circumstances of your case, we will fight to uncover all available evidence to support your claim for compensation.
Slip and fall accidents can occur on any slick or slippery surface. Some of the typical places where our attorneys have seen slip and fall accidents occur include parking lots, sidewalks, staircases or stairwells, supermarkets or grocery stores, hospitals, nursing homes, hotels, and construction sites.
Some of the common causes of slip and fall accidents that our attorneys have seen in the cases we have handled include weather conditions (such as snow, ice, and frozen standing water), potholes in parking lot or sidewalk pavement, broken or defective sidewalks, loose flooring, clutter on the floor, poorly constructed or maintained staircases or stairwells, waxed or mopped floors, abrupt transitions between flooring surfaces (such as carpeting to wood or tile), or loose or torn carpeting or floormats.
If you have been injured in a slip and fall accident, it is important that you see a doctor as soon as possible after your accident. If you wait too long to seek medical treatment for any injuries you suffer in a slip and fall accident, the party or parties that you later seek compensation from may try to argue that you were not injured by a slip and fall accident or that you were not as seriously injured as you now claim, or that your injuries were caused by something other than a slip and fall accident.
Not necessarily. If you are injured in a slip and fall accident that occurs on the property of a large business, that business may have a policy of drafting an accident report or incident report whenever a slip and fall is reported to employees or staff. If you have a slip and fall accident on private property and contact the insurer of the property owner, the insurance company may decide to put together an accident report.
A hazardous condition is any aspect of property that has the potential to be harmful, cause injury, or inflict adverse health effects on a person. In the context of slip and fall accidents, hazardous conditions can include water, ice or snow, uneven flooring, recently waxed or mopped floors, abrupt changes in flooring surfaces, or objects or debris on the ground. Who may be responsible for preventing or fixing a hazardous condition on property will depend on the specific circumstances. Generally, a property owner is responsible for preventing or correcting hazardous conditions on the property; however, this responsibility may be delegated to another party, such as a tenant leasing the property or a company hired to maintain the property.
The concept of comparative negligence states that the compensation that an injured party receives should be reduced by his or her share of fault for causing the injury. If you are found to be partially responsible for having caused your slip and fall case — for example, if it is shown that you failed to traverse a known dangerous or unsafe condition without due care — then the damages that you may receive in a slip and fall case can be reduced by the percentage of fault that is attributed to you for your accident.
In order to prove liability in a slip and fall accident, you will typically need to prove either that the property owner or occupier knew or should have known about a dangerous or unsafe condition that caused the accident, had an opportunity to remedy the condition and failed to do so, or that the property owner or occupier caused a dangerous or unsafe condition that led to the slip and fall accident.
If you suffer a slip and fall accident on the property of a family member or friend, it is understandable that you might be uncomfortable with the idea of pursuing a legal claim against your family member or friend. However, as a practical matter compensation for slip and fall claims that occur on residential property are often paid from a homeowner’s insurance policy, and not out of the pocket of your family member or friend. You may also be able to look to your health insurance to cover your medical expenses; however, your health insurer may seek reimbursement from any compensation you receive in a legal claim arising from your slip and fall accident.
As a rule of thumb, a property owner is responsible for preventing or correcting any hazardous or unsafe conditions on a property. However, when a property is leased to another party, the property owner may contractually delegate this responsibility to the tenant. In slip and fall accident cases that occur on rental property, it may be necessary to examine the rental agreement to determine who is legally responsible for the condition that caused the slip and fall.
The amount of money that you could receive from a slip and fall accident case will depend on multiple factors. However, if you were injured in your accident, you will be entitled to receive compensation for your medical expenses incurred to treat your injuries. If you miss work or are unable to return to your old job as a result of your injuries, you can also seek compensation for lost income or lost earning capacity. Finally, you might also be entitled to seek compensation for other damages you’ve incurred, such as pain and suffering or lost quality of life.
It is not required that you hire an attorney to pursue a slip and fall accident claim or to file a lawsuit to pursue such a claim. However, it is highly advisable, if you have a slip and fall claim, to retain the services of a skilled slip and fall accident attorney to represent you in your case. Property owners or occupiers will often try to deny liability in slip and fall accidents, claiming that you failed to exercise due care and were responsible for causing your accident. A slip and fall accident attorney may be critical to establishing that a property owner or occupier was responsible for causing or failing to fix a dangerous or unsafe condition and refuting any claims that you bear fault for your accident. Having an attorney to represent you can also be critical if you must file a lawsuit to pursue your claim, as an attorney can ensure that your claim is properly pursued through the civil justice system.