If you have suffered injuries due to a slip and fall accident on someone else’s property, you may be entitled to compensation. However, whether you can win a slip and fall case depends on several factors, including the level of negligence on the part of the property owner, the severity of your injuries, and your ability to prove the owner’s liability. In this article, we will discuss what you need for a successful slip and fall claim and how to go about it.
Understanding Slip and Fall Lawsuits
Slip and fall lawsuits are one of the most common types of personal injury claims, and they are filed against property owners who have failed to maintain safe premises. Such lawsuits can be complex and difficult to win, which is why you need a personal injury lawyer with experience in handling such cases. A lawyer can help you determine if you have a strong case and guide you through the legal process.
To win a slip and fall lawsuit, you must prove that the property owner was negligent in maintaining safe premises, and that their negligence caused your injuries. The following questions can help determine liability:
- Did the property owner know of the condition that caused the accident?
- How long was the condition present?
- What is the severity of the injuries?
- Are there witnesses who can testify on the victim’s behalf?
- Can the property owner prove the person fell because of carelessness?
If you can provide convincing answers to these questions, you are more likely to win your case.
Types of Slip and Fall Cases
Slip and fall accidents can happen due to various reasons, but today we are focusing on falls caused by transitory substances, such as liquids or debris, which should not be in a particular location. Such accidents can occur due to the following reasons:
- Liquids on the floor due to cleaning solutions, spills, or leaks
- Weather conditions, such as slippery or sandy surfaces that the owner should have remedied or warned about
- Debris left out in dimly lit areas, causing a hazard
- Objects on the floor that would have been visible if the building was adequately lit
Proving a Slip and Fall Case
Proving a slip and fall case can be challenging, but it is not impossible. To hold a property owner accountable, you must prove that they were negligent in maintaining safe premises and knew or should have known about the unsafe substance before the accident occurred. You can do this by conducting thorough investigations to determine how long the substance was present or if it was an ongoing condition. When a case warrants such analysis, your personal injury lawyer will spend considerable time and resources interviewing witnesses, hiring investigators, and talking to doctors and experts who can help you prove your case.
Determining Slip and Fall Compensation
The amount of compensation you can receive for a slip and fall injury depends on several factors. For instance, Florida courts look at the severity of the injuries, including the damage itself, to determine compensation. A broken back may warrant more money than a sprained toe due to the high medical and personal costs the victim must endure to get back to everyday life. Moreover, victims who were previously breadwinners may receive even more money because their household relies on their income to survive.
Let’s look at examples of recent slip and fall cases that can help you better understand how Florida courts determine compensation and who is at fault.
Case Study 1:
A client came to us with a compound fracture after slipping on a grape-like material at a local supermarket. The substance was near a corner rack in between a high-traffic aisle. After hearing her story, we filed a demand from the premises’ owner, but the owner denied her claims’ legitimacy. Nevertheless, we filed a lawsuit, and the supermarket settled for a substantial six-figure settlement. We suspect the owner reviewed the surveillance video, saw the substance had been on the floor for a while, and decided it was best to settle before wasting time, money, and resources fighting us in court.
Case Study 2:
In the second case, a client came to us after he slipped on debris on the sidewalk outside his apartment building. He fractured his kneecap and underwent surgery as a result. The building owner refused to settle, so we took the case to court. Our client received a multiple six-figure settlement. In this case, the building owner tried to absolve itself of responsibility by claiming the victim was careless. The defendant attempted to blame the victim by saying the sidewalk debris was an “open and obvious condition” that he could have avoided. However, we were able to prove the building owner’s negligence by demonstrating that the landscaping company left a lot of debris on the walkway that they should have cleaned. We also showed that the concrete was improperly protected against slipping risks, which created a “banana peel” effect when it was wet and that it was not maintained at the level of the manufacturer’s recommendations.
Strong vs. Weak Slip and Fall Cases
To determine the strength of a slip and fall case, several factors must be considered, such as:
Level of injury: Sprains and mild pain represent weak cases in the eyes of Florida law. On the other hand, significant injuries like compound fractures and debilitating pain are more substantial cases.
Timing: The amount of time a substance sits on the floor before the accident occurs matters. If someone falls on a transitory substance that sat on the floor for hours, they have a much stronger case than if the item had just fallen seconds earlier.
Victim’s ability to prevent injury: If someone falls on a clearly visible pile of trash, they may have acted carelessly, which makes this a weaker case. But if they’re walking through a darkened hallway covered with hidden debris, they probably couldn’t have prevented the accident. Thus, they have a much stronger case.
Surveillance video: Surveillance videos are one of the most crucial factors in developing a strong slip and fall case. That’s why personal injury attorneys must act quickly to request the premise owner preserve the footage. In cases where the owner ignores the attorney’s request and does not provide the footage, the jury will be instructed to assume the video proved the owner was at fault. That’s great news for the victim’s case. However, if the personal injury attorney does not make the request right away, they run the risk that the video might have been inadvertently deleted. In this unfortunate scenario, the victim may find it more difficult to prove negligence and liability.
Traffic in the area: Foot traffic in the area can help determine whether a case is strong or weak. For example, someone who falls on a highly trafficked walkway might have a stronger case than if they fell in the back corner of a store. However, Florida law does not require store owners to immediately pick up a dropped item, regardless of the traffic in the area where it falls. So, if a victim slips on a grape that sat on the floor for and/or clothes worn because the substance that caused the slip may be on the clothing.
The Bottom Line
Slip and fall lawsuits are necessary to hold a negligent property owner accountable. These cases can be complex, and the outcome of slip and fall cases depends on the answer to a variety of questions. To have a successful slip and fall claim, you must prove that the property owner or manager was negligent in maintaining the area in a safe condition and that they knew, or should have known, about the unsafe substance before the accident occurred.
If you have been injured in a slip and fall accident and believe that someone else may be responsible for your injuries, it is important to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible. At Port St. Lucie Personal Injury Attorneys, we have the resources and experience to litigate complex issues, and we are ready to fight for the compensation our clients deserve. Call our team now, tell us your story, and we’ll let you know how strong your case may be. Timing is critical. We must put property owners on notice and investigate immediately. We offer a free, no-risk case evaluation.