Slip and Fall
A slippery spot on the floor, an uneven or cracked walkway, a loose step or worn carpeting on a stairway — any of these, and many more things, can cause even a careful shopper or pedestrian to take a tumble. When a slip-and-fall accident occurs, the property owner may be at fault, for failing to warn about a known or foreseeable hazard, or for failing to use proper care to avoid dangers and maintain floors, stairs or walkways used by others.
Slips, trips and falls may be an everyday occurrence, but that shouldn’t minimize the often devastating impact they can have. In the workplace, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) says they comprise the largest share of industrial accidents and cause 15% of all accidental deaths, ranking only behind vehicle accidents. In the non-work world, slips, trips and falls also annually cause 12,000 deaths — again, second only to deaths from motor vehicle accidents –and at least 300,000 serious, perhaps incapacitating, injuries.
A general law of law is that whoever owns or controls a property has the duty of care to those invited or permitted to enter the property. Under Florida law, to prove a property owner is legally responsible for a slip, trip of fall injury, four things must be proved: the property owner failure’s to meet a legal duty of care (to prevent, repair or warn about dangers) created a hazard; the plaintiff’s accident was linked to that hazard; the plaintiff’s injury stemmed from the accident; and damages for which compensation is sought resulted from the injury.
Issues surrounding those elements of proving a slip-and-fall claim can be complex. What steps did the property owner or party controlling the premises take to design, inspect and maintain it in reasonably safe condition? Did any actions by the defendant create or continue a dangerous condition? What steps, if any, were taken to detect and remedy hazards?
Suppose, for example, on a floor or walkway of a store or other business, there’s an object or substance — anything from the proverbial banana peel to water dripped from customers’ umbrellas — that could present a slip, trip or fall hazard. Did the property owner or proprietor actually know of the hazard? What, if anything, was done to remove the danger? Were those reasonable actions, and were they taken quickly enough?
If the defendant property owner or proprietor claims not to have known of the hazard, should it have been known, because it was a recurrent, predictable problem? Was the problem a concealed one, not readily apparent to a shopper or guest? Did the plaintiff’s own negligence contribute to or cause the mishap or injury, or willingly take on a known risk? Besides dealing with the unique facts and circumstances of each case, other challenges include proving the extent of damages the plaintiff has suffered, and any future care that will be required.
Consult an Attorney with Experience with Slip and Fall Cases
An attorney experienced in investigating and documenting the many issues of fact in a slip-and-fall case, skilled in both negotiations and courtroom advocacy, may be essential to your receiving adequate compensation for the damages done to you or a loved one. Lawyers for property owners and insurance companies are well-versed in ways to defeat or minimize slip-and-fall claims. Shouldn’t your legal representative be at least as skilled in the area?