When you’re injured in an accident, there is seemingly no end to the accompanying stress, pain and financial struggle. If the accident is a slip and fall in Florida, the hardship can be compounded by the complex nature of premises liability law in our state. Proving fault in a slip and fall can be tricky and, without legal help, some victims are unable to recover any compensation from their accident.
When you need help proving fault in a slip and fall accident, you need an experienced slip and fall accident lawyer by your side to help you navigate the legal system and help you get compensation for your injuries. The legal team of personal injury lawyers at LG Law Group can help protect your rights and ensure that the responsible parties are held accountable for your injuries.
Here’s a brief overview of Florida’s slip and fall laws, steps you can take now to maximize your chances of a successful claim, and the kind of exceptional legal representation you can expect when you contact our legal team.
Who Can File a Lawsuit After a Slip and Fall in Florida?
Slip and fall accidents fall under what is called premises liability, or sometimes property liability. In this type of case, whether or not you are entitled to compensation for your slip and fall accident depends in part on your classification while you are on the premises. The law recognizes three distinct categories of people:
- Trespasser: a person who was not invited onto the property and has no legitimate reason to be there
- Licensee: a person on the property for a social purpose, such as a guest to your home
- Invitee: someone who enters a property in order to conduct business, like a customer at a retail store
Most slip and fall accidents involve invitees. This classification is important because Florida retail stores owe a responsibility (also known as a “duty of care”) to invitees that includes:
- The duty to maintain their store and the surrounding areas (such as the parking lot) in a reasonably safe condition;
- If the owners of the business know, or should know through reasonable care (also known as constructive knowledge), that there is a dangerous condition on the premises, they have the duty to eliminate the danger and make the area safe; and
- When dangerous conditions do occur, the store has the duty to warn invitees of the danger (i.e., cautionary signage) so that injuries do not occur.
If a retail store fails to do any of the above, they have violated the duty of care owed to invitees on their premises. Once an owner has violated their duty of care, Florida law gives the injured party four years from the date of the accident to file a claim. Filing a claim is the beginning of a personal injury lawsuit.
How to Know If You Are Eligible for Compensation
To better understand what kind of injuries you can be compensated for in a personal injury lawsuit, let’s consider the following example:
Joe, a customer, injured his back in a slip and fall accident in a Pompano Beach retail store. He was taken to the emergency room by ambulance, where he received medical attention for a spinal cord injury. He was given several prescriptions, told to stay home and refrain from his construction job for two weeks, as well as follow up with his primary care physician the following day.
Common sense tells us that the medical attention Joe directly received as a result of the slip and fall (the ambulance ride, the emergency room visit, diagnostic testing, cost of prescriptions, etc.) would be recoverable from the retail store in a personal injury lawsuit.
But what about the wages he missed out on while he was recovering from his injury? What happens if his primary care physician prescribes 3 months of physical therapy for his spinal cord injury? Worst of all, what happens to Joe if his injury is so severe that he can never work again?
Cases like Joe’s are not uncommon; unfortunately, due to the severity of the injuries slip and fall victims typically experience, they require extensive medical care that results in other types of hardships. Think of a line of dominos: here, the slip and fall accident is the first domino to fall. Despite being overcome with pain, he is unable to work, can no longer care for his daily needs, and experiences social isolation; the dominos fall one after the other all while his medical bills ruin his finances and bring the security of his future into question.
When you are injured in a slip and fall accident, there are a wide range of related expenses, as well as intangible damages like pain and suffering, for which you can be compensated. A knowledgeable personal injury attorney can evaluate your case to determine what costs and expenses may be covered under your slip and fall case.
Steps to Filing a Claim After a Slip and Fall in Florida
If you are a victim of a slip and fall accident, the most important step you can take immediately after your accident is to seek medical attention. Even if you wait a day or two before getting medical treatment, you could jeopardize your claim. The need for timely medical attention is due in large part to Florida’s requirement of causation that requires a plaintiff to show that the injury that is the subject of the lawsuit was directly caused by the slip and fall accident and, therefore, the retail store should be held liable for the victim’s damages.
Continuing with the example of Joe above, what would happen if, instead of going directly to the emergency room following his fall, he waited for one week before seeing a doctor about his back pain? Generally speaking, the longer you wait to get treated, the less your chances are of having a successful lawsuit. As a matter of causation, Joe could have injured his back in any number of ways in the week between the accident and the doctor’s diagnosis: he could have gotten hurt at work, been involved in a fender-bender, or even been injured in his own home. The more doubt there is that the slip and fall was the direct and only reason that the injury occurred, the harder it is to prove that the retail store is liable for your injuries.
After receiving medical attention, your next step is to consult an experienced Florida personal injury lawyer that specializes in slip and fall accidents. The attorney will conduct a thorough investigation of the accident including gathering evidence, identifying witnesses, acquiring doctor reports, and other actions that will help prove liability for your injury.
Once the attorney has completed their investigation, they will file a personal injury claim. There is a high likelihood of out-of-court settlement for slip and fall cases. If you are unable to reach a settlement agreement with the defendant, then the attorney will proceed with taking your case to trial.
LJW Legal: Experienced Slip and Fall Attorneys for Florida Accident Victims
At LJW Legal, we understand that a fall that takes only moments to occur can have devastating repercussions for years to come. You deserve the right to compassionate and competent legal counsel, someone who can help you after a serious slip and fall injury. Our experienced team of lawyers will treat you with respect and compassion while providing the utmost excellence in zealous legal representation. For more information on how LJW Legal can help after a retail store slip and fall, contact our office for a free case evaluation or call (954) 597-6770 today.