Slip and fall accidents happen daily in South Florida and frequently lead to severe injuries. While some slip and falls occur without warning, many accidents happen because of a property owner’s negligence. You have the right to sue a negligent property owner for your injuries after a slip and fall, but winning these cases without a lawyer’s help sets you against overwhelming odds.
The purpose of a slip and fall accident lawyer is to protect your rights and help you secure as much compensation as possible for your injuries. If you want to know more about how slip and fall accidents happen, what you need to prove compensation, and how a personal injury attorney can help, keep reading.
Where Do Slip and Fall Accidents Occur?
Slip and fall accidents can happen anywhere and at any time.
Some areas are more prone to slip and fall accidents than others, and some of the most common sites of slip and falls in South Florida include:
- People’s homes
- At work
- Businesses, particularly grocery stores and big box stores like Walmart
- Sports venues
- Public playgrounds and parks
- Apartment complexes, townhomes, condominiums, and other rental properties
- Swimming pools
- Theme parks and amusement parks
- Parking lots and garages
- Escalators and elevators
- Construction sites
- Nursing homes and assisted living facilities
Common Causes of Slip and Fall Accidents
Not all slip and fall accidents result from property owner negligence, though many do.
Some common examples of property owner negligence that can cause a slip and fall include:
- Spilled water or other liquids. If someone spills water, drinks, or other liquids on the floor of a home, restaurant, or business, whoever owns the property should clean it up immediately. Otherwise, anyone walking by could slip and fall.
- Loose objects or debris on the floor. Clutter on the floor of a home, rental property, business, or restaurant can cause someone to slip or trip and tumble to the ground. Property owners and workers should keep pathways clear to minimize the chance of an accident.
- Rain, snow, or other precipitation. If rain, ice, snow, or other precipitation accumulates near entryways, sidewalks, parking lots or garages, or other pathways people use to navigate a property, there is a significant chance that someone could slip and fall. Property owners should keep sidewalks and parking lots clear of snow and ice and take steps to prevent people from tracking rain or snow into a building.
- Poorly maintained sidewalks or other pathways. Broken pavement, steep slopes, and busted handrails are just some of the hazards that can cause a slip and fall accident if property owners neglect visitors’ safety.
- Stray electrical cords. Property owners and managers need to think carefully about where they run electrical cords within a building. These cords are thick enough to make someone slip or trip if they catch their foot on them while walking.
- Poor lighting. If visitors can’t see where they’re going as they navigate a property, it is easy for them to slip and fall because of a hazard they couldn’t detect. People can also lose their balance and fall while trying to walk in a dark area, even if no hazard makes them fall.
- Sloped walkways without proper handrails. People walking up or down a sloped path can easily lose their balance if there is no handrail to help them stay upright. Broken handrails can also lead to slip and fall accidents on sloped walkways.
- Poorly maintained floors in an assisted living facility or nursing home. Older people and those with neurological disorders are more prone to falls than younger, healthier people. Nursing homes and assisted living facilities should understand this and do whatever they can to minimize the chance of a fall.
- Hazards at construction sites. Numerous dangers at construction sites can lead to a slip and fall accident, from open pits and trenches to loose debris and spilled chemicals. If the property owner or construction company does not take steps to mitigate these hazards, someone could suffer a severe injury.
- Swimming pool accidents. If water from a swimming pool splashes onto a nearby walking surface, it is easy for someone to slip and fall while walking by the pool.
Florida Slip and Fall Accident Statistics
Slip and fall accidents are alarmingly common in Florida.
Here are a few figures from the CDC that illustrate the scope of the problem:
- Three million older adults receive treatment at emergency departments for fall injuries each year in the United States.
- One out of five falls causes a serious injury, such as a traumatic brain injury or a bone fracture.
- More than 800,000 people need in-patient hospital care after falling every year. Head injuries and hip fractures are the most common injuries that lead to a hospital stay.
- Each year, the U.S. spends about $50 billion treating non-fatal falls among adults age 65 or older. Treating fatal fall injuries costs about $754 million per year.
- Florida spent about $4 billion treating falls among older adults in one recent year.
Common Injuries from Slip and Fall Accidents
A slip and fall accident can lead to severe injuries, including:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Neck injuries
- Back injuries
- Broken bones
- Sprains, strains, and other soft-tissue injuries
- Nerve damage
- Internal bleeding
- Lacerations and bruises
Florida Slip and Fall Laws
Florida is one of the few states that has a specific law concerning a business’s liability for slip and fall accidents. According to the Florida Statutes, the injured party has the burden of proof in these cases, meaning they and their lawyer have to prove the property owner or another party acted negligently.
Specifically, the law says the negligent party must have had actual or constructive knowledge of the hazard that caused the accident. Stripped of the legalese, this means you have to show the business owner knew or reasonably should have known about whatever dangerous condition caused the property.
Proving a business owner knew or should have known about whatever caused a slip and fall accident is often challenging, but a personal injury lawyer can help find the necessary evidence.
This evidence may include things like:
- Photos from the scene of the accident
- Surveillance footage
- Accident reports
- Eyewitness accounts
- Expert testimony
- Medical records
Not all slip and fall accidents happen at businesses, though. So, what does the law say if you slip and fall at someone else’s home or another place that isn’t a business? In these situations, judges and insurance companies use common law precedents to determine who is liable for an accident.
Under common law, your lawyer typically has to show that the property owner knew of the hazard and failed to warn you before you can recover compensation. You must also have been on the property legally at the time of the accident, as trespassers generally cannot sue a property owner for any injuries they sustain.
Potential Compensation in a Slip and Fall Accident Claim
Your compensation for a slip and fall accident will depend on how bad your injuries are, how much money you lost because of the accident, what evidence you have to support your case, how good your lawyer is, and other factors.
With the right attorney backing you up, you could potentially recover compensation for:
- Any medical bills related to the accident
- Your lost income while you recover from your injuries
- Any reduction in your future earning potential due to the accident
- Your physical pain
- Your emotional distress
- Your reduced quality of life due to an accident-related injury or disability
- Your damaged personal property
Statute of Limitations for Florida Slip and Fall Claims
According to the Florida Statutes, you have four years from the date of a slip and fall accident to sue the property owner or another negligent party. We recommend you speak to an attorney immediately after the accident. Crucial evidence can disappear or deteriorate within a few days or weeks of an accident, and you want to give yourself the best possible chance of recovering compensation. Speaking to a lawyer as soon as possible means they can start working on your case while you attend to other matters.
Frequently Asked Questions About Florida Slip and Fall Cases
Here are the answers to a few of the most common questions we receive about slip and fall accidents in Florida:
How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Slip and Fall Lawyer?
Most personal injury attorneys work on a contingency basis, meaning the client doesn’t have to pay any fees upfront. Instead, the attorney gets paid through a percentage of whatever compensation they recover for their client once the case ends. Usually, you don’t have to pay your slip and fall lawyer if you don’t win your case.
What if More Than One Party Contributes to a Slip and Fall Accident?
If more than one party is liable for your injuries, you will have to file a claim against each party to recover full compensation for your injuries. A slip and fall lawyer can review your case and identify everyone who might bear responsibility for the accident.
Can I Recover Compensation for a Slip and Fall Accident if I Trespassed on a Property?
Ordinarily, you cannot recover compensation for a slip and fall accident if you were trespassing when the accident occurred. You might recover compensation if you can show the property owner willfully or intentionally caused your injuries, or if the trespasser was a child drawn to the property by an attractive nuisance, such as an unfenced swimming pool.
What if I Miss the Deadline to File a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
If you wait too long to file a lawsuit after a slip and fall accident, the courts will automatically dismiss your case. If this happens, you cannot recover any compensation for your injuries in court, and without that possibility hanging over its head, the insurance company will walk away from settlement negotiations. Thus, call a personal injury lawyer today so you don’t miss any required deadlines in your claim.