Taking an unexpected slip and fall can result in a mild to catastrophic injury, potentially leaving you permanently disabled. Property owners have a legal responsibility to keep their premises in a safe condition. If they violate their duty to do this, they can be held liable for damages.
A St. Petersburg slip and fall attorney at Kogan & DiSalvo can help you during this difficult time. We protect your rights while fighting for you to receive the compensation you deserve for your slip and fall injuries.
Common Causes of Slip and Fall Injuries
Property owners may prove negligent if any of the following conditions resulted in a slip and fall injury:
- Broken pavement
- Debris in walkways
- Inadequate lighting
- Lack of stair rails
- Loose floorboards or tiles
- Loose wiring or computer cables
- Torn carpeting
- Uneven flooring
- Wet floors
Steps to Take After a Slip and Fall Accident in St. Petersburg
After a slip and fall, let the property owner or manager know you were injured. If the slip and fall took place in a business, ask to file an accident report. If the police respond, request a copy of their report.
If possible, take photos or videos of the site. If you know what caused you to slip, document it. Property owners can repair hazardous conditions quickly, so your photo may be the only evidence that the hazard existed at the time of your fall. For instance, if you fell because the walkway was littered with junk, it can take less than a minute for the owner or manager to remove the items.
If there are any eyewitnesses, obtain their name and contact information. Write down or record exactly what happened while it is still fresh in your mind. You can also ask an eyewitness to state what they saw and record it.
Save the clothes and shoes you were wearing at the time of the accident, even if they were damaged badly. They may serve as evidence in your case.
Always seek prompt medical attention after a slip and fall. Perhaps you do not think you were hurt, but then you wake up the next day with serious mobility problems. Injuries are not always visible on the outside. Go to an urgent care physician right away. If you delay in seeking medical care, the insurance company will argue that you did not suffer serious injuries or that something else caused them.
Avoid posting anything on social media about your slip and fall. Insurance companies comb social media posts, looking to twist a plaintiff’s postings so that it appears the person admits fault or was not really harmed.
Common Slip and Fall Injuries in Pinellas County
Common slip and fall injuries include:
- Back and neck injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Traumatic brain injury
Establishing Liability in a Slip and Fall Case: Who is Responsible?
In legal terms, slips and falls fall under the category of premises liability. Many slip and fall cases revolve around determining which party is responsible for the plaintiff’s injuries.
The defendant is likely to argue that the slip and fall was the victim’s fault. While it is not unusual in slip and fall cases for the plaintiff to bear some responsibility, the owner still has a duty of care to maintain the property in a safe condition. When it comes to assigning fault, much depends on whether the slip and fall occurred on a commercial or residential property.
Commercial vs. residential properties
When it comes to businesses, under Florida law the plaintiff must prove that the business had “actual or constructive knowledge” of the dangerous condition causing the plaintiff’s injuries to establish the defendant’s liability.
For example, if someone slips and falls due to a “transitory foreign substance” in a business establishment— such as a liquid or solid substance that is not supposed to be in the area where the fall occurred— the hazardous condition must have existed for a long enough time that remedial action should have taken place.
Slips and falls on wet supermarket floors are frequent. If the need for a cleanup in aisle 2 was reported, but the store made no effort to clean it up, they may prove liable. However, if an object just spilled and a customer immediately tripped, the store would not have had the time to clean up the mess.
When it comes to slips and falls on a residential property, the owner or tenant is responsible for injuries occurring due to negligent conditions. Owners must maintain their properties in a way any reasonable person would do.
Owners and tenants have distinct and differing duties to maintain the property. If you were injured because the steps were broken, it is generally the owner’s responsibility to ensure that the steps were in a safe condition. If you slipped and fell at a party given by the tenant because liquid spilled on the floor and was not cleaned up quickly, the tenant may prove liable.
What if there is an attractive nuisance?
In most situations, those hurt while trespassing on property cannot pursue a claim. There is an exception involving trespassing children and an attractive nuisance. Young children are not aware that certain conditions are dangerous. An attractive nuisance, such as a swimming pool, for example, is a potentially dangerous condition on a property that may attract children.
Defenses to Slip and Fall Claims
Defendants or their attorneys will offer various defenses to a slip and fall claim, shifting the blame to the injured party. Common defenses to slip and fall claims include that the victim was distracted by their phone, not paying attention to where they were going, or were wearing the wrong footwear for the site conditions. Perhaps the owner or manager had placed signage warning passersby of a dangerous condition, which the victim allegedly ignored.
Statute of Limitations
In Florida, the statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit is two years from the date of the accident. Failing to file a lawsuit by that deadline generally means a case cannot go forward.
While you have two years to file your slip and fall case, it is crucial to consult a premises liability lawyer as soon as possible. Waiting too long can mean valuable evidence supporting your claim could vanish.
Potential Compensation for Your Injuries
Potential compensation in a slip and fall case may include:
- Medical expenses, present and future
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earnings
- Pain and suffering
If property was damaged due to an accident, such as a cell phone or piece of jewelry, you could receive compensation for your loss. Keep careful track of all medical and other expenses, including transportation to and from healthcare provider appointments, to receive reimbursement.
Even if you are found partly responsible for the slip and fall accident, you may still receive compensation. Florida uses a modified comparative negligence standard, which bars claims in which the plaintiff is determined by a jury or judge to be more than 49% at fault for the accident.
If the plaintiff is found 50% or less at fault, their recovery is reduced proportionally to their fault. For example, a slip and fall victim found 25% at fault for wearing inappropriate footwear can still recover, but their award will be reduced by 25% in proportion to their fault. However, if you are found to be more than 50% at fault, you cannot receive any compensation.
The Role of a Slip and Fall Accident Lawyer
A slip and fall accident lawyer at Kogan & DiSalvo will investigate your claim thoroughly and establish which party may prove at fault. The attorney collects evidence, which may include:
- Medical records
- Facility maintenance records for businesses
- Surveillance video
- Witness statements
A slip and fall accident attorney calculates your potential damages. They know a reasonable settlement amount for the type of injury you suffered and your prognosis and handle all negotiations with the insurance company. Most slip and fall cases are settled. However, if an insurance company fails to agree to a fair settlement, we may take the case to trial.
How Kogan & DiSalvo Can Help
If you or someone you know was injured in a slip and fall accident due to a property owner’s negligence, you need the services of an experienced St. Petersburg personal injury attorney at Kogan & DiSalvo. Contact us today and arrange a free, no-obligation consultation. Since we work on a contingency basis, there is no fee unless you receive compensation.