Slip and fall cases in Florida come under the general heading of Negligence. As with most personal injury cases in the state of Florida, the statute of limitations is four (4) years. This means that the case either has to be resolved or a lawsuit must be filed within four (4) years of the date of the occurrence.
More specifically, slip or trip and fall cases come under the heading of Premises Liability. That means that the property owner, or sometimes the lessee (the person renting the premises), may be liable for injuries which occur on their property.
What is Liability Property Insurance?
Most businesses and most homeowners carry liability property insurance. This means that if you are injured on somebody’s property, and they are insured, and you can prove that they were negligent and that their negligence caused your injury, you may be able to recover money damages from their insurance company.
What is Medical Payments Coverage?
Sometimes, in addition to liability coverage, the property owner will also have medical payments coverage. Medical payments coverage does not require proof of negligence. If you are injured on someone’s property and they carry medical payments coverage, their insurance company can pay your medical expenses up to the limit of that coverage. Generally that coverage is quite limited. It can be as little as $500, it usually is not more than $5,000.
When is a Property Owner Liable?
The laws that are applicable to negligence ascribe certain duties to the property owner. For instance, the property owner must maintain their premises in a reasonable and safe condition so as not to put visitors at some increased risk of harm. In a situation involving a business, that duty is even greater, because the business is inviting the public in for the purpose of selling them goods or services.
However, the fact that you have fallen on someone’s property and become injured does not necessarily make them legally liable to you. Further, the fact that a property owner/business has offered you money does not make them legally liable.
By way of example, if you visit someone’s home and trip on the way in and fall and hurt yourself, if there is no particular reason why you fell (in other words, no defect in the property, and/or no obstruction which caused your fall), it is not likely that the property owner would be liable or that their insurance company would pay for your injury.
On the other hand, if there is a crack in a walkway which the property owner was aware of, a slippery surface which they were aware of, a loose rug, a hose left out, or some other occurrence which was in the control of the property owner which led you to fall and be injured, this increases the possibility that you will be able to make a claim against the property owner and their insurance company.
Three Elements to a Case
To break it down further, there are basically three elements to the “trip or slip and fall” case in Florida.
1. There is a dangerous condition, that
2. The property owner or lessee either knew or should have known about, and
3. You have suffered injury or other damages as a direct result of that dangerous condition
Oftentimes, slip or trip and fall cases fail because of the second element, which is often referred to as the “notice requirement.” Here’s an example of how the notice requirement would work: Let’s say you are in a store where something spilled which caused you to slip and fall. To prove your case, you would have to show that either the property owner knew that the substance had been spilled, or that the substance had been there long enough that they should have known that it spilled. This is often very difficult to show.
On the other hand, let’s imagine that there was a spill and a store employee mopped it up, leaving that area of the floor wet. Now an effective argument may be presented that either a cautionary “Wet floor” sign should have been put up to warn you and other store patrons of the slippery surface, or that the area should have been closed off to allow the floor to dry.
The facts of every case are different. In order to maximize the possibility that you can make a recovery when you have fallen and become injured on someone’s property, you should do the following:
- Report the incident to someone right away; if it is in a store or other commercial property, ask them to make a report.
- Write down the name of whomever you speak to.
- If there are any witnesses, try to get their names and phone numbers if you can.
- If you have the kind of phone that can take photographs, take pictures of the area where you fell and what you believe caused your fall.
Finally, if you are injured, you should seek medical care as soon as possible. The sooner you seek medical care after an incident occurs, the better chance you have to ultimately prove that the incident caused the injury that you are complaining of.
Contact Experienced Gainesville Slip and Fall Attorneys
With more than 25 years of experience, we have handled a variety of slip-and-fall cases. We have had cases with injuries ranging from bruises, sprains and cuts to lost limbs, paralysis and death. We understand the importance of clearly establishing fault, and we do that promptly when clients contact us. We know how to prove if a property owner should have known about a defect or hazard. To learn more about the representation our lawyers provide, contact us online or call (352) 376-1200 to schedule your free initial consultation.