Tampa Bay Slip and Fall Lawyers Explain When You May Have a Claim for Compensation in Florida
Many people do not consider a fall to be as catastrophic as a motor vehicle accident, but that is not necessarily true. In fact, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) falls are the leading cause of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) in adults over the age of 65 and children 17 years and younger. Falls are also the second most common cause of spinal cord injuries. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), falls are the second leading cause of accidental or unintentional injury deaths in the world. Our Tampa Bay slip and fall lawyers have seen this first hand by handling many cases involving serious or catastrophic personal injuries, including wrongful death. Many of these injuries and deaths are preventable but caused by the reckless, careless, and negligent actions of another person, business, or municipal entity.
Not only are many slip and falls avoidable, but unfortunately many victims do not realize that they have a valid slip and fall case entitling them to compensation under Florida law. Rather, far too many victims blame themselves for a slip and fall accident on a wet floor, broken tile, or a slipped product on the ground. This could not be further from the truth. Anytime you have fallen on the property of another person, ask our Tampa Bay slip and fall lawyers at Dumas & Sanclemente for a FREE case evaluation to learn what your rights to compensation may be under the law.
Common Examples of Slip and Falls Where it May be a Landowner’s Fault (Not Yours)
A slip and fall case is a type of premises liability action, meaning a case that involves the use or occupancy of land. There are many different types of causes of slip and falls, but some of the most common in Florida include the following:
- Spilled products
- Holes in the ground
- Leaky AC units
- Wet cruise ship decks
- Leaking refrigeration units
- Food on the floor
- Broken curbs
- Uneven ground
- Excessive floor wax or soap use
- Debris or dirt on the ground
- Painted wood stairs without friction strips
- Poorly lit walkways and stairwells
- Tree roots lifting walkways
- Unsafe pool decks, and
- Many other common causes
Florida Law Regarding Slip and Falls
Under Florida law, all property owners, managers, and possessors must maintain their premises in a reasonably safe condition to avoid unnecessary harm to foreseeable entrants. This creates a flexible standard of care that depends on the class of entrant onto the property. Business owners are generally held to a higher standard because they invite individuals onto their property for the purchasing of goods and services. This includes places like grocery stores, department stores, and restaurants.
The next highest standard of care is owed to social guests who are coming onto the property of another for non-business related reasons. This includes guests into your home for a get-together, party, or it could extend to others just walking a dog on an adjacent sidewalk.
Finally, the lowest standard of care is owed to trespassers. The duty here is to ensure not to artificially cause intentional harm to a foreseeable trespasser. This could be placing animal traps in an area known to be a shortcut taken by children.
What if I was Partially at Fault?
Even if you believe you may have caused your own accident, you still may be entitled to compensation. Florida is a comparative fault state. This means the proportional amount of fault by the plaintiff is used to offset the total damages award. For example, if you recover $200,000 but were 10% at fault, your award would be reduced by $20,000 to a total recovery of $180,000.
Comparative fault is also a tricky subject that only a trained lawyer and jurist should evaluate. Therefore, do not try to gauge what your comparative fault is under the law. Let one of our lawyers evaluate your case for FREE and fight for your rights under Florida law to ensure you recover the maximum amount of compensation that you may be entitled to.
Elements of a Slip and Fall Case in Florida
In order to prove a slip and fall case in Florida, statutory law (made by the Legislature) and common law (judge-made law through written opinions and decisions) require that a victim must establish that 1) there was a dangerous or hazardous defect, 2) the defendant had notice of the defect, and 3) the defendant had a reasonable period of time to fix it.
The most contested element is usually notice. In order to prove notice, a victim must establish either one of the following:
- Creation – the defendant created the defect that was dangerous, defective, or otherwise hazardous including against building code
- Actual notice – the defendant was told about the defect or knew of its presence (i.e., walked by the spill and did not pick it up)
- Constructive notice – the defect existed on the ground for a sufficient period of time to inspect the premises, discover the defect, and repair or clean it (i.e., a jar spilled on the ground 2 hours before a slip and fall)
- Reoccurring condition – the defect habitually appeared when a certain condition occurred (i.e., the roof leaked on the floor every time it rained)
A victim only needs to establish one type of notice, but often times many different types of notice can be established in a case.
Do I Need to Prove the Elements “Beyond a Reasonable Doubt?”
Most people know about the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard that dominates TV, movies, and the news. This is a burden of proof, also known as a burden of persuasion, that is required to be shown in order to win a case. The “beyond a reasonable doubt” burden requires proof establishing a claim by a very high 98% to 100% certainty.
Luckily, in civil negligence actions like a slip and fall case a victim only needs to establish a claim by a “preponderance of the evidence.” This requires a victim to establish that it is more likely than not that the victim’s case is true, which is a 51% certainty.
While this is certainly better for a victim than the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard, that does not mean victims can handle a slip and fall claim by themselves without a lawyer. Or that victims and their families could use just any type of lawyer. This is because the law allows a defendant to just prove a defense by 50% or more, making it easy for a defense lawyer or insurance adjuster to argue against a victim’s compensation. This is why victims need to hire an experienced Tampa Bay slip and fall lawyer to protect their rights to compensation under the law.
Call Our Tampa Bay Slip and Fall Lawyers for Help Today
If you were injured on the property of another person, call Dumas & Sanclemente for a FREE case evaluation to learn what your rights to content may be under Florida law. We will not let an overzealous defense lawyer or aggressive insurance adjuster deny your claim and right to compensation. Fight back with our compassionate staff and experienced lawyers to ensure you recover compensation for medical bills, lost wages, loss of consortium, and your pain and suffering due to a slip and fall accident in Tampa Bay or anywhere else in Florida. Call (844) 400-2667 to schedule your case evaluation or send us an email by using our message box at the bottom of our contact us page available here.