A slip and fall accident in Vero Beach can cause significant injuries and expenses. In some instances, these accidents are preventable through the exercise of due care. However, when a property owner does not exercise reasonable caution for the safety of their visitors, accidents may follow.
Our experienced Vero Beach personal injury lawyers provide injured individuals with the support and representation necessary to pursue a claim for damages. If you have suffered an injury because a property owner has allowed a dangerous condition to develop, you shouldn’t have to pay for their recklessness. Our attorneys at Kogan & DiSalvo can evaluate your case, represent your rights, and negotiate with insurance to reject lowball offers for the best possible settlement. We leverage decades of experience representing personal injury victims throughout Southeast Florida.
Florida Slip and Fall Laws
Florida is a modified comparative negligence state. This means that an injured victim’s damages or compensation will be reduced by the amount of responsibility they have for their injury, up to 50%. If the injured victim is found 51% or more at fault, they are barred from recovery. For example, should they be found 30% at fault, they would be able to recover 70% of their damages.
The typical statute of limitations for slip and fall accidents is two years from the date of the accident. However, if the injury occurred on government property in Florida, then there will be a different statute of limitations. Additionally, the government requires giving notice to the agency overseeing the property and can set caps on damages. This can be complicated and is best discussed with a knowledgeable attorney.
Duty of Care to Invitee vs. Licensee vs. Trespasser
There are several different levels of duty owed to a visitor depending upon the circumstances. For example, invitees and licensees are both welcome, while a trespasser is not.
There are two different types of invitees: public and business.
Business invitees are those who have been invited onto the property for business purposes, which can include:
- A delivery person from, for example, UPS or GrubHub
- Contractors performing work on the property
- Patrons in a shop
A public invitee is someone invited to enter or remain on the property that is open to the public and includes:
- Visiting a garden in a public park
- Seeing a loved one in a hospital
- Watching a little league game on a public baseball diamond
A licensee is on the property of another (with their permission) that is not open to the general public for a non-business purpose. This can include:
- People who are specifically invited, such as a guest responding to an invitation to a party
- Someone who enters a business to use the restroom
- People who are on the property with implied permission, such as a friend who is regularly invited over that stopped by unannounced on the way home from work.
A trespasser is on the property that is not open to the public and does not have permission to be there. The highest duty a property owner owes is to a public or business invitee. Florida law requires them to warn invitees of dangers they know or should reasonably know of. The state also imposes on the owner a duty to maintain their property in a reasonably safe condition.
The duties owed to a licensee are not as extensive —the property owners are only liable if they injure a licensee wantonly or willfully. This means they must have been either malicious or careless, such as not warning of hidden dangers. For trespassers, while there is no responsibility to protect them, a property owner must still refrain from intentionally harming them.
Common Causes of Slip and Fall Accidents
Slips or trips can occur almost anywhere, but specific hazards and surfaces tend to produce more accidents, and they include:
- Liquids spilled onto hard, solid surfaces.
- Loose rugs.
- Torn or bulging carpets.
- Uneven sidewalks, steps, or floors.
- Tripping hazards, such as toys or spilled food left on steps.
- Ice or snow on sidewalks or walkways.
- Deficient or damaged stepladders.
- Poor lighting often compounds the hazards listed above.
Common Injuries of Slip and Fall Accidents
Injuries from slip and fall accidents can range from mere inconvenience to life-altering. It depends on the individual, the type of hazard slipped or tripped on, and the surface –e.g., a senior citizen falling down marble steps will likely be seriously injured.
Some of the more common injuries include:
- Broken bones, particularly hip fractures amongst seniors, as 95% of broken hips occur in falls
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
- Sprained or torn joints
- Cuts, bruises, and abrasions
- Neck, shoulder, and spinal injuries.
What to do After a Slip and Fall
After an accident, the first thing to do is to document the circumstances that caused the injury. With the widespread use of smartphones, this can begin immediately after the injury.
Some of the steps to take include the following:
- Taking photographs and videos of the scene, especially the patch of ice, broken step, or other cause of the slip or trip.
- Taking photographs and videos of your injuries.
- Recording your impression of the accident to keep it fresh in your memory.
- Taking the contact information and statements from witnesses.
- Seeking immediate medical assistance and getting a copy of all the medical documents.
- Informing the property owner
- Booking a consultation with an attorney before accepting a settlement with the property owner or insurance.
Damages Available to Slip and Fall Claimants in Vero Beach
Individuals hurt in slip and fall incidents may require a visit to the emergency room, scans and tests, and follow-up treatment. Additionally, some injuries may require surgery, leaving an individual unable to work while they recover. All of these situations may cause an individual to sustain serious financial burdens. However, through a lawsuit, an injured party may be able to recover compensation for these financial expenses and losses.
Beyond financial harm, a slip and fall incident may cause someone to experience pain, distress, anxiety, or depression. These mental traumas can take a toll on an individual’s quality of life. As a result, these conditions also may be compensable in an injury lawsuit.
Slip and fall attorneys in Vero Beach could help someone determine the extent of their losses. This could help claimants seek an appropriate amount of compensation.
When is a Property Owner Liable in a Slip and Fall Case?
If a plaintiff’s injuries occur because of a defendant’s behavior, then a court may find this person legally responsible for paying compensation to the injured party. This is known as “premises liability.” Premises liability requires an owner of a property to exercise reasonable care in keeping their property free of hazards.
Defendants who do not inspect their property for slipping hazards are potentially liable for the injuries a visitor sustains as a result of their careless behavior. Additionally, property owners who do not take reasonable steps to either clean up a spill or fix a broken staircase also could be liable for the injuries their negligence causes.
Defendants in a slip and fall case may include the owners of the property where the accident happened. If someone owns the property but rents it to another, then the plaintiff may seek compensation against that occupier as well.
Identifying defendants whom the plaintiff may sue for compensation is not always a simple task. However, with assistance from our Vero Beach injury attorneys, injured parties may be able to identify and bring suit against all of the defendants who played a role in causing their slip and fall accident.
Speak with Our Vero Beach Slip and Fall Attorneys at Kogan & DiSalvo
Talk to our Vero Beach slip and fall lawyers if you or a loved one have suffered harm in a tripping or slipping accident on another’s property. After an investigation of your case, our team may discover that you have legal grounds to pursue compensation against one or more parties.
Our veteran attorneys are well-versed in Florida’s negligence laws and have a proven track record of outstanding settlements and verdicts. Our goal is to help clients get their lives back on track with minimal disruption or inconvenience. To get started on your case, schedule a free consultation with Kogan & DiSalvo, the Vero Beach slip and fall attorneys.