Slip and fall cases tend to garner a lot of attention in the media, and with good reason. A great number of injuries occur in this manner in the homes, restaurants, stores and public spaces of this country each year. Here in Jacksonville, many thousands of people are injured in falls annually, and litigation is the common result when those injuries prove expensive and intrusive. Because such cases are so common, clients often come to us with questions, including:
A: A slip and fall is defined exactly as it sounds: a falling injury that occurred on the premises of another party. Falls such as these can be minor or quite serious depending on the circumstances, with extreme examples resulting in back and neck injuries, traumatic brain injury, broken bones, and paralysis. Typically they are caused by an unseen obstruction or obstacle of some kind, including:
- Spilled liquid
- Unmarked holes
- Broken stairs
- Uneven ground
A: This is the key question, as slip and fall cases tend to turn on the question of fault. Florida law gets a bit more complex at this point as it designates different types of visitors who may be involved in such an accident. Business licensees are people invited to do business, such as customers in a store or restaurant. Invitees are social guests and visitors. For each of these categories, the property owner is required to exercise reasonable care in the property’s upkeep, or to warn visitors if there is a hazard. Failure to do either one of these things can result in an injury and leave the property owner liable for a Florida slip and fall premises liability lawsuit.
Trespassers, on the other hand, generally shoulder more of the liability if they are injured on someone else’s property. This only stands to reason, of course, as no one would expect a property owner to prepare for visitors he never knew were coming. A notable exception to this rule is children: if the property is known to attract young visitors unannounced, the owner must exercise some care to keep the place as safe as possible.
A: All of these definitions feed into the question of comparative fault. Florida law is clear that not every slip and fall case has just one liable party – many people have rightly argued that the fault can be shared between the owner and the visitor. For instance, stairs that do not have a handrail may be considered hazardous to older people, but one could reasonably argue that such visitors shouldn’t take the stairs at all if they cannot safely traverse them. Comparative fault assigns a percentage to each party for the damages based on relative responsibility – 90/10, 75/25, etc.
A: A negligent property owner may be held liable for any losses the victim incurs resulting from an accident. These damages can include:
- Property loss or damage
- Lost wages
- Resulting medical bills (including ambulance and emergency room fees)
- Future medical bills resulting from the injury (including surgeries, etc.)
- Pain and suffering
- Costs of physical therapy and rehabilitation
- Household and vehicle modifications to accommodate your injuries (such as wheelchair lifts and ramps)
- Permanent injury or disability
- Loss of career or earning capacity
- Punitive damages
A: Absolutely! A negligent property owner is every bit as liable for a fatal accident as a drunk driver or the manufacturer of a defective product.
A: If you have lost a loved one in a premises liability accident, you and your family can claim compensation for the following damages:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Medical bills
- Pain and suffering of the deceased before they died
- Loss of future income
- Loss of future benefits (such as medical benefits and retirement)
- Mental anguish
- Loss of love, affection, companionship, guidance, marital consortium, etc.
- Loss of household duties the deceased performed (such as childcare, chores, property maintenance, etc.)
A: The statute of limitations in a slip and fall case depends on the particular claim and the location. In Florida, you generally have four years from the date of injury or death to file a personal injury or wrongful death claim. If, however, you are suing a government entity (police department, prison, etc.), you only have three years to file a claim. The statute of limitations for filing a personal injury or wrongful death claim in Georgia is two years.
The time to act is now!
Premises liability lawsuits can sometimes be drawn out affairs. To get the settlement you deserve, you need to be represented by a Jacksonville personal injury attorney. Farah & Farah has successfully represented many Florida and Georgia accident victims and their families.
To get your claim started, call our offices today at 855-797-9899 for a free consultation.