Slip and fall (or trip and fall) accidents can happen when, and also where, you least expect them. Unfortunately, all it takes is a moment of carelessness to create a hazard that results in a serious injury. The burden of mounting medical bills, lost wages, and decreased quality of life is made even worse when you know that the accident was preventable.
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in any type of fall accident, you need the assistance of a Tampa slip and fall attorney you can trust. Contact Kogan & DiSalvo to schedule a free consultation.
What else do you need to know about pursuing justice for your slip and fall case? Let’s dive into some of the legal basics.
Where Do the Majority of Slip and Fall Accidents Happen?
Slip and fall accidents account for 33% of all preventable nonfatal injuries, making them the leading cause of preventable injuries. However, for adults 65 and older, slip/trip and fall accidents are the leading cause of injury death, taking nearly 36,000 lives in 2020 alone.
Slip and fall accidents can occur anywhere, but some of the most common places include workplaces and nursing homes. Both present significant fall risks, and victims can suffer a range of injuries, from minor bruises and sprains to more severe fractures, head injuries, or back injuries.
These injuries can lead to pain, medical expenses, time off work, and in some cases, long-term disabilities.
However, slip and falls can occur in a variety of other places, too. Anytime a business fails to maintain its property, you may be at higher risk for a slip or trip and fall accident to occur. The location of your injury will also affect the types of damages and liability rules that apply to your case.
Some of the other most common public places where fall injuries occur include:
- Parking garages/parking lots – Poor lighting conditions and poorer maintenance can lead to potential injuries.
- Sidewalks and walkways – Sidewalk maintenance often goes neglected, creating severe fall risk and tripping issues, like cracked or raised surfaces and potholes. With additional weather conditions such as snow or rain that can conceal these imperfections, slip and fall injuries can become exceptionally dangerous.
- Hotels and Resorts – Hotels and resorts require a high amount of maintenance with the number of visitors they receive daily, so anything that falls into a state of disrepair can become a fall risk.
- Swimming Pools or Other Public Areas with Wet Surfaces – Particularly a common problem in the Tampa and surrounding Hillsborough County area, any public space with slick floors, such as water parks, outdoor pools, gyms, and restrooms can become a safety hazard without proper signage in place to warn guests of the risks.
- Grocery Stores, Restaurants, and Retail Spaces – Unmarked wet floors, poorly maintained tiling, food spills, and refrigerator leaks can all lead to increased risks for trips and falls.
- Stairwells – Improper handrails, loose stairs, poor traction, and bad lighting can be some of the many factors contributing to stairway accidents.
Liability in a Slip and Fall Accident
If you’ve been hurt in a slip and fall accident, the first question on your mind is likely, “Who is responsible for my injury?” It’s a reasonable question to ask, as you may be eligible to receive compensation if the property owner is found to be liable for the accident.
Property owners are responsible for keeping their premises reasonably safe for anyone invited to be there. Invitees include those who were explicitly invited (including employees) and those who enter and use public areas for their express purpose. An example of the latter is someone who goes to a library to borrow a book.
When property owners fail to keep their premises safe, they may be liable for any injuries that invitees suffer while on the property.
Slip and fall injuries typically occur from negligence. In most cases, the property owner or their employees fail to identify a threat, remedy an identified threat, or warn others about a threat that can’t be remedied.
Some key factors your attorney will consider when determining liability:
Who the Property Owner or Occupier Is
Typically, the property owner or the person who occupies and controls the premises where the slip and fall occurred is the primary party under scrutiny for liability. This could be a homeowner, a business owner, or a landlord.
The Duty of Care Owed to the Victim
Property owners have a legal duty to maintain their premises in a reasonably safe condition. This duty extends to preventing hazards and ensuring the safety of visitors.
The Visitor’s Status
The legal status of the injured person at the time of the accident plays a significant role in determining liability. Generally, visitors fall into one of three categories:
- Invitee: Someone who is invited onto the property for a business purpose, like a customer in a store. Property owners owe invitees the highest duty of care.
- Licensee: Someone who is on the property for personal reasons, such as a social guest. Property owners must warn licensees of any known hazards.
- Trespasser: Someone who enters the property without permission. Property owners have the least duty of care to trespassers, but they can’t intentionally harm them.
If the slip and fall occurred on government-owned property, such as a public sidewalk or a government building, special rules and deadlines for filing claims may apply.
What to Do (and Not to Do) After a Slip and Fall Injury in Hillsborough County
Florida laws are quite business-friendly, which means the odds are stacked against you in your slip and fall lawsuit, even if you have a legitimate claim. If you want to improve your chances of getting appropriate compensation, it’s important to take the following steps after suffering a slip and fall injury.
Before you do anything else, call 911, even if you don’t think your injuries are serious.
Fall injuries are often worse than they appear. You might have suffered brain or spinal injuries that aren’t apparent without medical evaluation. The fact that you don’t identify them now doesn’t mean they won’t have long-term effects.
What’s more, getting medical treatment establishes an official record of your injuries. Your lawyer will need this documentation to prove the validity of your claim.
Take pictures of everything. Your slip and fall lawyer will want photographic evidence of what caused the accident and any injuries you suffered. If there were witnesses present, it will also help your attorney to pass along their contact information.
If you’re intent on seeking compensation for your slip and fall accident, the best way to do so is to consult a qualified slip and fall attorney, and the best time to contact them is as soon as possible.
Evidence tends to disappear quickly in personal injury cases. This is particularly true of slip and fall injury accidents, where property owners are usually willing to go to great lengths to protect themselves from liability.
Contact an experienced lawyer at Kogan & DiSalvo immediately after an injury to get a skilled Tampa slip and fall attorney working on your case as soon as possible.
The most important factor in getting compensation in a slip and fall case is proving that another party is legally liable for your injury. The negligent party’s insurance provider and legal team will argue that you yourself were responsible for the injury you suffered.
One tactic they might employ is to use your own words against you. If you say anything that could be used as evidence that you were partially responsible for the injury, you can assume that the insurance company will learn about it.
The best way to avoid this is simply not to talk to anyone about your injury. This means you shouldn’t discuss the accident with witnesses (though you should still collect their contact information) or provide a statement to an investigator for the insurance company without your lawyer present.
Another strategy many insurance companies and lawyers use is trying to get you to sign away your right to sue.
A representative for the liable party might offer you compensation, but only on the condition that you sign certain paperwork. They may even deceitfully insinuate that you can never get money for your injuries if you don’t sign then and there.
Don’t fall for this ploy. You have the right to consult with an attorney, and the only way you can lose your right to compensation is if you sign something that gives away that right.
Damages in a Slip and Fall Case
Damages refer to the value of your injuries and the compensation you deserve for accident-related losses. Depending on the circumstances of your case, they may include:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Reduced future earning capacity
- Out-of-pocket costs
- Long-term disability care and/or rehab treatments
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
It’s in your best interest to contact a Tampa personal injury lawyer who can assess the full value of your case.
What to Expect When You Contact a Slip and Fall Attorney at Kogan & DiSalvo
When you reach out to Kogan & DiSalvo, the first thing we’ll do is schedule a free consultation. We want to start investigating your claim as soon as possible. If you need help finding medical treatment for your injuries, we’ll connect you with doctors in Hillsborough County who can help.
Once we’ve taken your case, it will receive the full attention of our legal team. We’ll gather medical records, talk to witnesses, and collect any other relevant evidence.
We can usually negotiate a fair settlement with the insurance company without stepping foot in a courtroom. If, however, the insurers refuse to offer an amount that covers the true extent of your damages, or their offer does not accurately reflect the full scope of liability on the property owner’s part, we’re ready and able to take your case to a jury.
Contact Kogan and DiSalvo today to arrange a free consultation with one of our experienced Tampa slip and fall attorneys.