Slip and fall accidents in Florida fall under the umbrella of personal injury cases. This type of personal injury case typically involves an individual slipping or tripping on another person or a company’s property. Slip and fall cases hold the other person or company liable for the negligence that led to the incident and resulted in injury. Before pursuing a slip and fall case in Florida, however, ensure your case meets the legal requirements outlined by the state. We discuss Florida’s slip and fall laws below, but consider contacting an attorney at GED Lawyers to discuss the specific details of your case.
Florida Slip and Fall
Slip and fall laws in Florida hold individuals or companies liable for this type of incident if it meets certain conditions. These conditions include the duty of an individual or company to keep their premises clear and safe for the public. Another condition involves a breach of this duty—the company fails to meet the first condition and therefore shows to be negligent in its duties. Lastly, it must be the case that these first two conditions directly led to an injury.
Duty: Establishing the duty of an individual or company to maintain their property in a certain way can vary depending on the circumstances. For example, a privately owned piece of property has a more relaxed set of maintenance standards that the property owner must uphold. Since the property is private, the owner only needs to maintain the areas used by the public, like sidewalks, unless guests are invited in.
It’s more often the case that companies, such as stores, are sued for slip and fall injuries in Florida. In these cases, the duty to maintain the premises and keep it clear of hazards is stricter. The public is viewed as “invitees” and companies must go to greater lengths to make sure the premises remains free of liquids, debris, uneven surfaces, and other natural hazards that may cause injury if left unaddressed.
Breach of Duty: Establishing a duty of care is more straightforward than establishing a breach of duty. Often, establishing duty simply means looking to Florida’s slip and fall statute and determining what duty of care an individual or company owes to the public. Establishing a breach of duty requires a more nuanced approach than this. You must provide evidence of the unsafe conditions that led to your injury in addition to showing that the individual or company knew about or should have known about these conditions at the time of your accident. You establish a breach of duty when you can clearly show that the individual or company was not diligent in keeping their property safe and that this negligence directly led to your accident and injuries.
For a free legal consultation, call (844) 443-3529
Transitory, Foreign Substances
Florida upholds a specific law around slip and fall accidents that involve a transitory, foreign substance. These substances include liquids, objects, or other slippery substances left on the floor or ground of a business establishment that cause an individual to slip and fall. A common location of transitory, foreign substance involved in slip and fall cases is supermarkets, where recently mopped areas, product spills, and other substances may frequent the floors.
To prove this type of slip and fall case, an individual must first show that a foreign, transitory substance caused their slip and fall. Next, this individual must show that this substance was on the floor for a sufficient length of time when it should not have been; that is, the property owner or their employees had ample time to locate the substance and take corrective action to prevent a potential accident.
This latter element is the most difficult to prove; however, it’s becoming easier with the use of recorded evidence captured by business cameras. Often, these cameras are rolling from the moment an individual enters a business to the time the incident occurs, and they often provide timestamps that help set up a reliable timeline. In some situations, camera footage captures employees walking by the substance that caused a slip and fall without taking corrective action; in these scenarios, proving this latter element in a slip and fall case is relatively straightforward. Since footage is often crucial in slip and fall cases, notifying the business immediately after a slip and fall occurs helps ensure the camera footage is captured and preserved for your case.
Florida Slip and Fall Case
An example of a transitory, foreign substance slip and fall accident is that of Owens v. Publix Supermarkets, Inc. In this case, the plaintiff, Owens, slipped and fell on a piece of peeled banana that was on the floor of a Publix supermarket. While this item qualified as a transitory, foreign substance, Owens failed to provide evidence to show how long the banana was left on the floor. Since it was unclear whether the banana had been there long enough to conclude that a sufficient amount of time had gone by in which Publix employees should have found and removed this substance, Owens lost her case.
In a similar case, Ramey v. Winn Dixie Montgomery, Inc., the plaintiff, Ramey, brought a slip and fall case against the Winn Dixie supermarket after suffering back injuries due to a fall inside the establishment. In this case, the court found Ramey and the Winn Dixie establishment 50% negligent each. While the plaintiff didn’t receive damages for future medical care and non-economic damages they were pursuing, the courts did award Ramey the total amount of medical bills incurred, as well as $6,000 for past pain and suffering.
Slip and Fall Statute of Limitations in Florida
Slip and fall incidents can occur anywhere and at any time. However, not every claim establishes the legal requirements set forth in Florida’s slip and fall laws to the plaintiff’s satisfaction. This is because the evidence and documentation of a slip and fall case matter greatly in proving these requirements, and a strong legal team often makes the difference in a successful claim.
The plaintiff must also consider the statute of limitations involved in a slip and fall claim. Florida grants injured parties the ability to file a claim a maximum of four years from the time of the incident.
Complete a Free Case Evaluation form now
How to Prove a Slip and Fall Claim
To prove a slip and fall claim in Florida, you need to document the unsafe conditions that led to your injury, such as taking pictures. You also need to prove that the property owner had a duty of care toward you and that duty of care was breached when they failed to take reasonable action in regard to maintaining the property, which would have prevented your accident.
You also want to document your injuries immediately and keep a paper trail of your visits to doctors, comments, and bills. Lastly, be ready to face counterarguments that the property owner is likely to bring against you. In Florida, property owners can use “comparative negligence” to argue your own carelessness contributed to the accident, and therefore, you should shoulder part of the costs associated with the injury. To successfully prepare your case and prove a slip and fall claim, get in touch with an experienced personal injury attorney.
Filing a Slip and Fall Claim
To file your slip and fall claim, you need to take crucial steps as soon as the incident occurs and follow through the legal process by doing the following:
- Report the accident to the property owner or manager immediately
- Get names of nearby witnesses
- Take photos of the area and your injuries
- Seek medical attention for your injuries
- Explain the origin of your injuries to your health care provider
- Fill out accident reports, if applicable
- Do not speak to an insurer without legal representation
- Attend your scheduled medical treatments
- Document days missed from work and wages lost as a result of your injuries, if applicable
- Keep your account of the event consistent, especially in depositions
- Work closely with your attorney to provide documentation and paperwork required for your claim
Damages Owed to a Slip and Fall Victim
The damages owed to you as a slip and fall victim in Florida can be reduced if you’re found to be partially responsible for your injuries. These damages could include:
- Medical expenses for treatment, rehabilitation, and medication
- Lost wages and loss of future earnings, if applicable
- Pain and suffering
- Diminished quality of life
- Punitive damages, if applicable
Sometimes, defendants in slip and fall cases make settlement offers in order to avoid court proceedings. In some cases, such offers are worth taking, especially if they are enough to cover the expenses you’re seeking damages for. However, you should make this decision with your attorney, as a settlement offer may not be right for you.
Injured in a Slip and Fall Accident? Contact GED Lawyers
If you were involved in a slip and fall incident and are considering a legal claim, contact GED Lawyers to discuss your case with an experienced personal injury attorney. We can examine the details of the event and determine your legal options in a free initial consultation. Call us at 561-995-1966 or 844-443-3529.