When is the last time you tripped over your own feet? Many of us stub our toes, trip on our shoes, or stumble while we walk up the steps on a regular basis. If you're naturally clumsy, you might quickly take the blame for your own fall, even if it resulted in injury.
However, in many cases, someone other than yourself has responsibility for your slip, trip, or fall. And if someone else's negligence resulted in your injury, you deserve just compensation. Instead of blaming yourself for a fall, read through our list of common questions below. By the end of our blog post, you should have a better understanding of slip and fall cases, including whether or not you have a solid case.
1. What Are Slip and Fall Cases?
The term "slip and fall" covers a variety of personal injury cases. Although slip and fall is the most common term, it can refer to one of several common injuries:
Trip and fall cases where you trip over an object or a rough surface
Slip and fall cases where you slip on a liquid or slippery object
Step and fall cases where you fall because of a gap or dip on an uneven surface
Even if a slip and fall injures you, another person isn't necessarily at fault. For instance, if you tripped over an object you left on your own front porch, you would be liable for any resultant injuries. However, someone else should take the blame if you sustained injuries on another person's property, including their home or business, and their negligence led to your injuries.
2. What Do I Need to Prove in a Slip and Fall Case?
In 2010, Florida's slip and fall laws increased the victim's burden of proof. Prior to 2010, you
needed to demonstrate that hazardous conditions existed and caused your injuries. Now, you need to demonstrate that the business or property owner had actual knowledge of the hazard or that he or she could have been reasonably expected to know about it.
You also need to demonstrate these three key things:
The property or business owner had a duty to care for you (e.g., because a grocery store had opened for business, the owner became responsible for your safety on the premises).
The property or business owner failed to exercise reasonable care as they operated or maintained their property.
This lack of reasonable care directly resulted in your injury.
In short, you and your lawyer will work to show that a property owner or employee caused or knew about the problem that caused your injury; that they did nothing to fix it; or that a reasonable person should have found, understood, and removed the damage.
3. How Do I Know if the Owner Acted Reasonably?
Much of slip and fall law hinges on the word "reasonable." Your personal injury lawyer can examine your case and determine if the owner acted reasonably under the law. You can ask yourself some basic questions to determine if the owner was at fault:
Why was the object on the ground? Did it have a good reason to be there?
If the owner had a good reason for placing the object there in the past but no longer needed it, should he or she have removed the object, covered it, or posted warning signs?
Could the owner have placed the object in a safer location?
Did the owner regularly inspect, maintain, and clean the premises?
Was the object/slippery patch in place long enough that a reasonable person should have noticed and removed it?
4. How Do I Know if I Acted Reasonably?
Just as you ask yourself about the owner's responsibility, examine your own responsibility as well. In many cases, you were the victim of someone else's negligence. However, you should know that most insurance adjusters will ask questions like these:
Did you know the area was hazardous? Did you notice any warning signs around the dangerous area/object?
Were you walking too fast when a reasonable person would have slowed down?
Why were you in the dangerous area/near the dangerous object?
Were you paying attention to where and how you were walking, or were you distracted?
Even if you can answer yes to these questions, you may still have a case. For instance, the owner may have posted warning signs, but they were 10 feet or more from the hazardous area, unclear, or unhelpful.
5. How Long Do I Have to Make a Claim?
If you live in Florida and believe you have a case, you must file within four years of receiving your injury. After four years, you can no longer file, regardless of the type of injuries you sustained.
6. How Can I Learn More?
Your personal injury lawyer is your best resource for learning more about slip and fall cases. If you think you have a slip and fall claim, contact a personal injury lawyer. He or she will sort through your claim and help you decide if you have a case.