Most slip and fall incidents occur at a place of business (grocery stores, gas stations, city parks, etc.). When this occurs, the business or property owner may be responsible for your injuries if the owner did not take reasonable measures to provide a safe environment for you. However, if you slip and fall at a private residence, you may have a claim against the homeowner if he or she did not meet their duty to provide a safe environment for you.
Examples of Slip and Fall Cases
For example, if you are walking in a grocery store and you slip on a spilled substance on the floor and suffer an injury, the storeowner may be responsible for your injuries. In addition, if a neighbor invites you over for dinner and as you are walking across the porch, you step on a rotten board and suffer an injury, you may be able to recover damages from the homeowner if he or she knew the board was rotten and was a danger. These are just a few examples among many.
If have fallen and injured yourself on someone else's property, you may have a slip and fall claim. You should take measures immediately to document your damages, seek medical treatment, notify the property owner, and contact a slip and fall attorney to make sure you protect your claim.
Document Damages and Seek Medical Treatment
Even if you do not know yet whether the property owner is responsible for your injury, you should take steps to document your injuries and seek medical treatment. Notify the property owner immediately or as soon as possible of your injuries. If it is possible to take or obtain photos of the area where you fell, showing the condition that caused you to fall, that could be very helpful for your case, but it is often the condition (a spill or broken board, for example) is cleaned up or remedied immediately after the fall.
Either way, you should take photos and document your injuries, to both your body and personal property, if any (a watch broken in the fall, for example), and seek medical treatment. Schedule and make your appointments and keep records and receipts of expenses you incur (co-pays, prescriptions, medical supplies, etc.) while treating your injuries. If you have a claim against the property owner, it will likely be handled by his or her homeowner's or business property insurance company—if the property is insured as most properties are. You will want detailed evidence of your damages so you can recover everything you are entitled to from the insurance company.
Types of Damages You Can Recover In a Slip and Fall
- Past medical bills
- Future medical bills
- Lost wages
- Loss of future income
- Out of pocket costs
Is the Property Owner Responsible For Your Injury?
Determining whether the property owner is responsible for your injury will depend on several factors surrounding the situation that caused you to fall. There are many conditions that could make a property dangerous but that may not make the owner liable for injuries caused by those conditions. For example, if some slippery fluid like water, snow, soap, or oil suddenly falls to the floor and the owner is not aware of it. However, if there was a condition on the property that the owner was aware of (the rotten board on the porch, for example), and he or she did not take measures to warn against the danger, block the area off, or otherwise protect people invited onto the property from injury that could be caused by the danger, the owner could be liable.
Liability Will Usually Depend on the Following Factors
Generally, whether the homeowner will be responsible for your injury will depend on the following factors:
- Whether the homeowner caused the spill or otherwise dangerous condition;
- Whether the homeowner knew of the dangerous condition but did nothing about it; or
- Whether the homeowner should have known of the dangerous condition because a reasonable person taking care of the property would have discovered, repaired, cleaned, or otherwise remedied it.
Four Year Statute of Limitations
In Florida, the deadline for slip and fall cases is four years, and it begins to run from the date of the incident (the day you fell and injured yourself). A statute of limitations is basically a deadline, that if you do not meet, you lose your right to pursue your claim.
While four years may seem like a long time, often most accident victims are consumed initially with treating the injury that has turned their lives upside down. You are dealing with medical bills and appointments, trying to get back to work and get your life back to normal. It may be months before the thought of filing a slip and fall claim crosses your mind and, when you do, the property owner's insurance company will also spend a good bit of time handling, and perhaps trying to delay or deny, your claim. While time is passing you may not know that your right to sue for your injuries is ticking away.
Contact an Experienced Slip and Fall Attorney
At that point, the best thing you can do to make sure you protect your slip and fall claim and recover everything you are entitled to from the insurance company is contact a personal injury attorney experienced with slip and fall cases like the attorneys at Taylor, Warren, Weidner & Hancock. The insurance company will begin gathering evidence immediately and may try to get information from you or others that will allow them to deny or underpay your claim. It is in your best interest to bring in an experienced injury attorney to protect your rights to a full recovery. If you have been injured in a slip and fall on someone else's property, contact us.